Report Back from Santo Domingo, Ecuador
Ray Rutledge and Jon Goforth went to Santo Domingo, Ecuador Feb. 19-27. Below is Jon's report back from that trip.
Serving in the Church
Our week was filled with activities with the local church in Santo Domingo. We were able to participate at Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, which was the host church for our teaching sessions. Ray preached on Psalm 8 and taught about the magnificence of God and the wonderfulness of man being made in the image of God, which should lead us to live a life for His glory. Sunday night we went with Pastor Jorge, who is the pastor of Sovereign Grace Baptist, to attend a service of their church plant. The room was packed with locals and about 20 missionaries from Canada who were serving that week in the community showed up for the service. This lead to a beautiful night of different languages, ethnicities, and cultures all gathered together to praise Christ.
Teaching How to Study the Bible
The subject of the class we taught was hermeneutics, which is the study of how to interpret God’s Word. Our goal was to teach the people how to study the Bible. For six nights from 6pm-10pm we would meet and teach the people how to study God’s Word. We wanted to provide for the people a framework of tools and guidelines that could help them understand how to interpret God’s word. Moreover, we warned them of flawed ways people try to interpret Scripture and provided examples of these fallacies. Our sessions consisted of teaching the people the reliability of God’s word, how to study the text, what questions to ask for application, and the anatomy of Scripture such as the different genre’s used in Scripture. Also, our final sessions concluded with giving them tools for how to interpret the text such as context is king, let Scripture interpret Scripture, let the clear passages interpret the obscure, look for repetition, linking words, and extra-biblical resources.
Students Ready to Learn
These are just a few of the many different concepts we taught the people. Often we would enter into a part of the lesson that could seem tedious or technical, which led us to worry if the people would stay engaged or see the practicality of the lesson. However, to our delight the people continued taking vigorous notes throughout the sessions and were able to discuss the content along with asking some difficult questions. The attitude of the people for the entire week was very encouraging. They did not complain about the length of the sessions or the late dinners we would have following the teaching. Rather, their focus was on how to study God’s Word. Often while we were teaching we would not be able to make eye contact with the students because they were all writing down notes.
Pineapples Don't Grow on Trees
The past week in Santo Domingo, Ecuador was a sweet reminder from God’s word that one day around His throne will be people from every tribe, tongue, and nation singing praises to Him for their salvation (Rev. 7:9-10). Ray and I began the trip with little knowledge of Spanish and even less knowledge about pineapples. One of us (perhaps both) believed that pineapples grew on trees. After this trip we have gained more knowledge than just cordial greetings in Spanish or where pineapples grow, but instead we have learned that there exists a group of pastors, lay leaders, and college kids who are hungry to hear and apply the Word of God.
In reflecting upon our time in Ecuador a couple of thoughts are worth noting. First, we were reminded of our own need to practice the principles of biblical interpretation that we are teaching these pastors. One can easily move from wrestling with God’s word through inductive Bible Study to lazily skimming the passage without thoroughly examining the text to uncover the riches buried within it. Second, as Americans our abundant resources to interpret God’s word have replaced our discipline to study the Word and mediate on its truths. Our time with these brothers and sisters in Christ reminded us of our duty to be stewards of our time, resources, and gifts to the glory of God.
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