Reading groups led by average people are making an impact in the South Pacific.
Impie rented a room from a retired Seventh-day Adventist couple. Working as a kitchen hand in a local restaurant, Impie was attracted by the fact the advert said the renter had to be vegetarian. Originally from India, with a Sikh background, she would pray and meditate before work. Impie noticed the Adventist couple would also pray and read their holy book each morning.
One day, Impie asked to join, and the Bible reading intrigued her. Impie rarely missed the Bible readings—she found the Christian’s holy book more interesting than her own. She asked lots of questions and before she stopped renting the room had been to church twice. On parting, she asked if she could have a Bible of her own. The retired couple willingly gave her one.
The Bible reveals it is more than an interesting book. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth, your Word is truth” (John 17:17).* The Bible reveals the truth about God and the intention to bring changes in a person’s life (1 Thess. 2:13).
It reveals the truth about human nature (Heb. 4:12). It shows the reader their innermost attitudes and thoughts—not a pretty picture, but we need to know it. It reveals that Jesus brings hope and meaning to life—eternally (2 Tim. 3:15). The Bible also reveals what we can believe and how we should live (2 Tim. 3:16,17).
Clearly, the Bible reveals the truth that matters in life.
In history, reading and study of Scripture by the masses have been pivotal whenever God has brought about revival and reformation. Usually, Bible studies are taught by those who know more about the Bible than those they teach. It is a valid way to do Bible studies. However, Jesus the greatest teacher who knew Scripture intimately often just asked people questions about what they were reading (Luke 6:3, 8:45, 10:26, 18:41, Matt. 16:3-19), allowing those exposed to Scripture to learn at their own pace.
Bible Reading is Transforming Lives
Across our region [the South Pacific Division], the Discipleship Ministry team is teaching and demonstrating the power of Bible reading groups led by average people. If we are to become a thriving Adventist movement, we cannot leave all Bible studies to trained pastors and elders. We need those trained in proper interpretation (2 Tim. 2:15, 4:1-5). The Holy Spirit, however, inspired the Scriptures (2 Pet. 1:19-21) and will guide people into all truth (John 16:13).
In Queensland, Australia, young adults are forming groups and reading Bible stories and chapters at a time. The group leader asks simple questions to get people discussing Scripture. The questions are: What is new? What surprises you? What don’t you understand? What can you tell another person? The number of groups is growing.
Central Coast Adventist School [in New South Wales, Australia] chaplain Leighton Heise has been showing students how to run these Bible reading groups. A high school senior student who had attended the school for many years but never taken Bible classes and chapels seriously found that God spoke to him in the Bible reading groups. He’s now been baptized and is helping Heise teach Bible reading to other students.
In Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Ric learned about Bible reading groups. It was a simple method he could follow with his family. His children and wife liked it so much they invited neighbors of all ages to join them. Many have since come to church. Ric is a building supervisor, and once a week at lunchtimes, he holds a Bible reading group for his workers. Their lives have been changed so much they have assisted Ric in building a house for an elderly blind man.
The Scriptures have power. If Australian young adults, high school students, recent immigrants, and Papua New Guinea trade and village people are responding to these simple, reproducible Bible reading groups—perhaps they could be the basis of a thriving Adventist disciple-making movement.
*Bible verses follow the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.