Studying Scripture with the Global Church


Eddie D’Souza (4th-Year Seminarian), and I just returned from a week in Ambo, Ethiopia. We woke up each day heading into a training session on skills for interpreting New Testament epistles—focusing on Ephesians. And honestly, what could be better? 

Teaching the Bible doesn’t get much better than (1) observing the spiritual blessings given to us in Christ (Eph. 1), (2) asking how Ephesians 2 helps us understand the natural human condition in sin, (3) exploring the “mystery” in Ephesians 3, and (4) discerning how our new life in Christ leads us to live differently in our relationships (Eph. 5:21-6:9). For this trip we partnered with Training Leaders International, whose non-formal curriculum leads trainees to develop their exegetical skills by practicing on select texts from each literary genre in Scripture. More than eighty trainees gather in Ambo three times a year to grow in their ability to move from reading Scripture to preaching in the church.

This group in Ambo is also cultivating a new generation of teachers by allowing former graduates of the training to lead several sessions a week. One of these brothers is a local pastor and has already led a group of church members through the same curriculum on his own. Working with the New Covenant Baptist churches in Ethiopia is a window into the progress of the gospel around the world and a picture of the future of evangelical Christianity.

Many of the Masters of Divinity students, like Eddie, were traveling in June for their cross-cultural ministry practicum. This is an essential part of the curriculum and aims to give each seminary student exposure both to the global church and to the part they can play as trained leaders. Several other faculty-student team trips took place this year, including to Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. Please pray that these would be formative trips that help our students clarify long-term ministry directions. 

In addition, several undergraduates are traveling for cross-cultural internships—usually with the goal of considering long-term cross-cultural ministry. Pray that God would work in the lives of our students.

Besides the joy of studying Ephesians with eager men and women in Ethiopia, Eddie and I also drank plenty of coffee on this trip, had the van overheat while climbing a mountain, were stopped by a policeman whose first thought about America was “Minnesota?”, and switched hotels midweek because the water was turned off. Eddie, who is a Steddom scholarship recipient from India, drew parallels to ministry situations in India as well as providing a non-North American perspective on Africa.

We consider a passion for God’s work around the world to be essential as part of our studies at Bethlehem College and Seminary. Even if our graduates are primarily called to vocations in the United States, we pray that their hearts are drawn in prayer and action toward the people of God from every tribe, tongue, language, and nation.

Jon Hoglund, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Theology and Global Studies