Saturday, November 10, 2012

Those Eager Beroeans
by Fred & Gloria Strickert

Meet Bahjat and Mona-- my new "Beroean" friends.

Now might you be asking, what is a Beroean friend?  Tucked away in a small corner of the Book of Acts, between all those grand and famous places visited by Paul--like Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens, and Corinth--Paul makes a short stopover in a small town named Beroea (Acts 17:10-12).  It was a time of frustration for Paul with outside agitators disrupting his ministry in Macedonia, yet the Beroeans are described as hospitable and  "more noble."   The highest complement comes in verse 11:
"They welcomed the message very eagerly
and examined the Scriptures every day."

What better way to describe Bahjat and Mona--along with a group of young adults in the ELCJHL-- than as "Beroean Friends."

A new ELCJHL training program for Lay Preachers

 Yesterday, we in the ELCJHL launched a new education program specifically aimed at young adult professionals to serve in their congregations and the Lutheran Schools as Lay Preachers and Bible Study Teachers.  In a small church like the ELCJHL, there is always the problem of resources.  With only six congregations, six pastors, and a bishop, the laity play a prominent role.  So in response to their requests and to the general need for deeper theological education, the ELCJHL Council established a two-year education program (meeting one Friday each month), where each congregation is invited to send 3-4 young adults who have openly welcomed the message and who eagerly desire to examine the scriptures every day.

Bishop Younan opens the day with morning devotions at Abraham's Herberge in Beit Jala, speaking on the Great Commission of Matthew 28:16-20, and inviting participants to share the joy that comes from proclaiming the word. 
Group building takes place over lunch and through plans for future field trips to Biblical sites.  Unfortunately, as is often the case due to travel restrictions, our Amman congregation has been excluded from this opportunity.
Note well the number of women who were selected by their congregations and who will soon be filling our pulpits.  
The course began with a six-hour overview of the Bible.
This will be followed in future months by a thorough study of the Augsburg Confession and Lutheran Theology, a section on "How Lutherans Read the Bible," Critical in-depth study of the Gospels of Luke and John, the Letters of Romans and Galatians, the Old Testament book of Isaiah, and sessions on homiletics.
"Why couldn't we meet twice a month?" Bahjat wanted to know.  That kind of comment shouldn't be surprising after the experience of living and working here this long.  The enthusiasm, the eagerness, the interaction and lively discussions, the desire to examine thoroughly the word, all of this is so encouraging and provides an outlook of hope for the future of the ELCJHL.
Yes, Paul, we  understand what it must have been like for you when you paid that short visit to Beroea two thousand years ago.  Someday, we'll have to compare notes about those eager Beroeans and . . .
These eager Beroeans! 
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Follow-up # 1
Last February 16, we wrote a blog about a visit to al-Aqaba, a small village in the northern West Bank where one of our congregation members, Morgan, was serving.  You can link to that blog page Salaam Hon.
In yesterday's news, we learned that the IDF had "temporarily" removed a thousand residents of al-Aqaba and neighboring villages so that military maneuvers could be carried out place in their streets, playgrounds, courtyards, and gardens--as well as target practice with live amunition.  The article noted that these military exercises were special since the IDF is being joined by 3,500 American troops over the next three weeks. 
Follow-up # 2
In November, 2010, we wrote a blog about the Ecumencial Accompaniers program sponsored by the World Council of Churches.  You can link to that blog page  Ecumenical Accompaniers. 

Last Saturday, November 3, we had the privilege and honor to assist in leading a Service of Celebration for ten years of this amazing Peace-making program, where volunteers from around the world --Over 1,000 have now participated in the program-- commit themselves to living in Palestinian towns and villages 24/ 7 for three months at a time.
Here are a couple of photos from our recent visit with EAs in the small village of Yanoun, where EAs build relationships and walk side by side in their daily lives--doing the things that make for peace.
by Fred & Gloria Strickert