October 27, 2020
While much of the world is moving back into lockdown mode, things are opening up in Egypt with schools back in session and church meetings and conferences taking place with precautionary measures.
I recently attended a conference for leaders of High School groups from 53 churches from different protestant denominations. The conference was under the auspices of the presbyterian National High School Committee (NHSC), the Bible Society of Egypt (BSOE), and the Protestant Community of Churches (PCC). With more than 127 in attendance as well as 10 Bible Society support staff, this gathering on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea was a remarkable event.
The purpose was to train these leaders in how to help High School students understand the Bible and apply it to their lives. The Bible study training manual recently developed by the NHSC was the basis for the four-day conference. I was amazed by the enthusiasm of these leaders and the very excellent planning done for this event. There were only three plenary sessions during the whole conference and the rest of the time was spent in small groups focused on studying and applying the manual. In addition, each group had the opportunity to visit “stations” which handled a specific aspect of Bible study.
One creative station showed how important it was to read the Bible with the right punctuation, as this can drastically affect the meaning. Another station dealt with translation issues and how the Bible, being a translated book, needs to be read carefully and understood from the original languages. To explain the difficulty, they used some English colloquial expressions which are hard to translate into Arabic. Of course, if these had been translated literally like “he finished his homework at a drop of a hat” it would make absolutely no sense Arabic! This was to show the students that the purpose of Bible translation is to make you understand the original intent of the writer and not to simply translate the sentence literally, which could in many cases not communicate the author’s intent.
It was especially meaningful for me to participate in this exciting conference. Back in the 1980s, I worked for 9 years alongside the NHSC in ministry among High School Student group leaders. During that time I focused on creative methods of Bible study and trained some of their leaders in these methods. Now, years later, I saw the “fruit of my labors” as I sat in on different groups and found them applying some of the ideas that I had shared with their predecessors more than 30 years ago. Some of the examples they used were the specific ones I had taught in the 80s! Several small Bible study groups of High School students have already begun following the conference and we have already made plans for two similar conferences in other parts of the country.
Nothing is more gratifying than to see the growth and success of a ministry in which you have been involved continue to bear fruit many years later. Even more significant for me was to see how the BSOE could cooperate with the NHSC to put on this conference. As a Bible Society we are in contact with most churches in the country so were able to introduce the NHSC to many denominations they were not serving.
A long time ago when I joined BSOE my great concern was that we not only distribute Bibles but that we would help people to know how to engage with God’s Word. This conference was a perfect example of the kind of cooperation we can have with church leaders to help them engage with the Scriptures.
Please pray for us as we return to some semblance of normal life and ministry. Thank you so much for your partnership with us during these challenging days. We are especially praying that we may be able to reduce the financial shortfall we incurred during the Covid-19 lockdown so that we can begin 2021 without carrying a large deficit from 2020.
With much thanks,