Posted tagged ‘Bible Geography’

Bible Geography VBS

June 15, 2014

June 14 was the Super Saturday VBS for the Central Church of Christ in Vincennes, Indiana, and Bonnie and I were guest teachers to participate with brethren and young people in that endeavor. The theme was “Bible Geography,” and the event kicked off at 8:30 a.m. and lasted until 3:00 p.m. By then youngsters and adults were completely exhausted.

Each child was given a “passport,” which contained the child’s picture and on which ink stamps were applied upon entry to the respective classrooms throughout the day. The children went to Egypt, Bethlehem, Nazareth and Cana, Jerusalem, and Rome. Outdoor activities in the morning included Pony Express races (i.e., contribution of the Persians) and Chariot Races (i.e., human wheelbarrow races). The outside activity for the afternoon was an “Archaeological Dig” in two large sandboxes and one pile of sand.

The non-stop motion of the all-day vacation Bible school was draining for both the adults hosting the program as well as for all of the participants. In addition to instruction and activities, the day was punctuated also with lunch, snacks and desserts. A good time was had by all, and the Central Church of Christ touched the lives of several families with the Word of God. The following pictures give a hint of how the day unfolded.

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2013 Polishing the Pulpit

August 30, 2013

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Bonnie and I arrived in the early afternoon at Polishing the Pulpit (PTP) on Saturday, August 24. Sevierville, Tennessee – adjacent to Pigeon Forge and not far from Gatlinburg – is a beautiful part of the country for sure. Whereas in former years we were able to enjoy some of the Smokey Mountain surroundings for a day or so following PTP, this year we crammed the weeklong activities between two of Bonnie’s chemotherapies. We were fully engaged during PTP and had to rush back to Mississippi to afford Bonnie her chemo on Friday morning.

Bonnie and I tended children of all ages each day. Bonnie assisted with 4- and 5-year-olds from as early as 7:45 a.m. to lunchtime. We, but especially Bonnie, presented a hands-on missions presentation for an hour each of two days; dozens of children pawed our exhibit and tasted the chapatti that Betty Choate had made for the occasion. Perhaps the one item that elicited the most interest from these little ones was The Voice of Truth International produced in Braille. Each morning I roved from class to class teaching Bible Geography to children as young as 4-year-olds up to 11-year-olds.

In the afternoons, Bonnie taught our program of Buckets of Bible Time, where youngsters are called upon to arrange in sequential order three red buckets labeled with “Patriarchy,” “Judaism” and “Christianity.” Then, they are asked to place three dimensional objects (e.g., cars, airplane, dinosaurs) and laminated cards depicting Bible characters in the appropriate buckets. The catch is that some characters belong in more than one time period (e.g., Moses, the apostles) and Jesus Christ does not belong in Christianity. In addition, Bonnie responded to the invitation to help out with children in the evening, too.

Afternoons from 1:30 p.m. until 4:15 p.m. or after, it was my sheer pleasure to assist other preachers who taught 21 budding young men from the ages of 10 to 14 how to prepare and to deliver a devotional. All of them did very well and deserve commendation; some did exceedingly well. One or two could easily serve as an “opening act” (to borrow a phrase from entertainment) preceding a keynote address by a seasoned brother at PTP in the future. I graduated somewhat in 2013 at PTP and was privileged additionally to have an adult class one evening. My assignment concerned the use of printed material in the mission field.

Between working with children, we did attend a few lectures, set up and managed our two display tables, and conversed with numerous people. Some of these brethren we only see at programs such as this, while others are our supporters and encouragers. We sold a few books, gave every budding preacher boy one or more books and distributed some The Voice of Truth International in two languages.

I spied a little tyke who may not have been potty trained yet, but who was an expert already with modern technology. He was mesmerized with a game on a cell phone. His little thumbs were working, and he was sliding his finger across the screen to manipulate the pictures. I was dumbfounded! Is there any hope for me?

The first snafu upon arriving at the Wilderness Hotel and Convention Center was learning that our lodging reservation had been cancelled and that there was no room in the inn. That we would not arrive on Friday was apparently not conveyed by PTP personnel to the hotel, and so staff there cancelled our reservation and gave our room to someone else when we were a “no show” on Friday. We were counting on being in the hotel so Bonnie could resort to the room for rest as needed. The hotel relented and rented us one of the two emergency rooms it had put back in case something went wrong. It seemed that we walked the length of a football field to an elevator that took us two floors below the main floor. Fifteen rooms are nestled in this subbasement adjacent to the loading dock and driveway for vending and laundry. Some bugs knew where our room was located even if housekeeping occasionally did not remember.

Whining aside, the accommodations were very much appreciated, and the hotel room at the convention center afforded Bonnie rest at lunchtime and supper each day, besides restful sleep. We ate two meals daily in our room and ate out once every day, twice as guests of the generosity of other brethren.

Thursday morning, Bonnie tended to small children until the conclusion of the PTP program. I packed our clothes, food and mobile office, and then loaded the car with those things. Next, I sat in on the speeches of seven of our young preacher prodigies as they made public presentations to parents and friends. Finally, Bonnie and I packed our displays and books for our return trip to Winona, MS. About 1 p.m. we pointed the limping Town & Country toward Mississippi. About eight hours later, we pulled into our driveway, positioned for a morning departure on Friday to get Bonnie to her next chemo appointment.

Tired, yes. Gratified, yes. Bonnie and I earnestly desire to serve the Lord to our fullest always in this life and as long as life persists and permits. Triage of looming efforts include contacting and confirming speakers for the April 2014 India Missions Conference, rent a car at the Pittsburgh, PA airport for our northeastern appointments in two weeks, purchase airline tickets for my fall mission trip to Myanmar (Burma) in October, work on Gospel Gazette Online for September and October, work on the next issue of The Voice of Truth International and bring it to fruition before departing for Asia, prepare my lessons for three weeks in Myanmar (four to six hours daily), prepare and rehearse sermons and classes for two congregations for which I will speak this weekend, mow the grass (it’s been four weeks), prepare six months of classes for Wednesday nights at the Siwell Rd. Church of Christ that commence upon my return from Asia, and try and deposit our bucking, sputtering van at a dealership for much needed nurture while away in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia; yesterday, the car’s odometer exceeded 173,000 miles. Like me, some of its body parts don’t work right anymore!

I dare say that a few other more routine matters will cry for attention as well. We will triage one and all as needed. It is time for us to send another newsletter, but I’m not sure we can squeeze one out at this time. Thank you for your continued interest in our efforts to serve our Lord stateside and especially abroad.

Mississippi School of Biblical Studies Concludes First Quarter of Instruction

March 7, 2013

Gary HamptonThe first battery of classes by the Mississippi School of Biblical Studies came to a close on Thursday evening, March 7, 9 p.m. CST. However, all of the classes for the two courses taught have been archived, and they are available over the Internet by visiting the webpage of the Siwell Road Church of Christ at http://www.siwellroad.com/. Simply follow the link “view live service.” Gary Hampton, evangelist for the congregation, taught about correct biblical interpretation or hermeneutics. I taught about Bible geography, Bible archaeology and sacred history; however, I was personally absent for four of the eight weeks on an overseas mission trip. Brethren Gary Hampton and John Allen taught my materials in my absence. New classes will resume in August with other qualified instructors and teaching additional subjects.

Session #2

January 24, 2013

Gary Hampton Thursday, January 24, 2013 was session #2 for the Mississippi School of Biblical Studies, hosted by the Siwell Road Church of Christ in Jackson, MS. I taught Bible Geography, after which Gary Hampton taught Biblical Interpretation. Bible schools abroad have proven to be key to the edification of brethren and equipping them to reach out to their countrymen with Christianity. Likewise, schools such as this one can also be “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12 NKJV).

Video Recorded1All comers are welcome. Please plan on being present from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. each Thursday evening if you can on the lower level of the meetinghouse of the Siwell Road Church of Christ at 4075 Siwell Road, Jackson, MS. Alternatively, you can watch the classes live over the Internet or even view past classes, too. Simply click “View Live Service” on the toolbar of the webpage for the Siwell Road Church of Christ at http://www.siwellroad.com/. See you there!

Mississippi School of Biblical Studies Debut

January 18, 2013

Gary HamptonThursday evening, January 17, 2013, the Siwell Rd. Church of Christ in Jackson, MS hosted the first session of the Mississippi School of Biblical Studies. It is patterned after the long successful Nashville Bible School, and Gary Hampton is its Director.

Louis Rushmore It was my pleasure to kick off this new endeavor with a class for an hour and twenty minutes on “Bible Geography.” Gary Hampton taught the second class of the evening about “Hermeneutics” or biblical interpretation. Over 40 attended. This series of classes will go on for eight weeks.

Louis RushmoreAt the start of the “Bible Geography” class, I introduced four young students – ranging from 3-years-old to 10-years-old – to three Bible maps. I have been doing this with children for years, and it does not take long for even young children to accomplish the goal of learning places on the Bible maps as well as events and characters associated with them. This type of a demonstration shows adults that there is some hope that they, too, can acquire this knowledge. After introducing the course and briefly acquainting the class with the textbook, I narrated a PowerPoint presentation about “Bible Archaeology.”

For more information about the Siwell Road Church of Christ, go to its webpage at http://www.siwellroad.com/. You can even go to resources on the toolbar of the page to find the archived videos of last night’s classes.

Kakinada Base of Operations

November 3, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012, Bonnie, Therman Hodge and I made our way from Visakhapatnam to Kakinada, India; it was a two and a half hour drive. After parting from Samuel, who graciously drove us, we had lunch at the home of Joshua and Kabita Gootam. Lunch over, we headed out to the village of Gorinta, about 45 minutes away. There we found 39 in attendance, 33 of whom were women and young children. Lord’s Day attendance is typically 60 women and 40 men; while we were there, most of the men were working.

Thursday was a Hindu holiday during which women are required to stay in the home and cook sweet food for their husbands. However, these Christian sisters opted rather to assemble for a Gospel message, despite the fact that most of their husbands are Hindu. All attending Thursday were converts from Hinduism. The world over, women frequently exhibit a sensitivity for spiritual matters in greater numbers before men; here is no different.

Friday, November 2, 2012, Therman and I headed out with Ricky Gootam to a distant mountain, jungle village – over two hours away. Heavy rain overnight, continuing throughout the day, resulted in destroyed sugarcane crops and significant flooding. The little village to which we went is without electricity daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Therefore, we met in a dark masonry structure with little natural light available because of the storms. Again mostly women comprised the approximately 50 persons present. Therman preached and I exhorted the Christians and Hindus present; three precious souls responded to be baptized.

Aside from the residents, the villages and countryside through we which we traveled could have been offered as evidence that we were somewhere in Africa. At the same time, some of the terrain – minus the coconut and banana trees – might have argued that we had driven back to West Virginia. Like many of the days before in our 2012 Asian excursion, we spent an inordinate amount of time traveling by land to remote sites. We were here because Joshua Gootam’s television program introduced the Gospel to people off the beaten path, and several of them subsequently became New Testament Christians.

On the way back to Kakinada, we stopped at another especially poor village, much of which is drenched in standing water. We had an abbreviated devotional with about 30 brethren and some Hindus. These Christians, too, were converted from Hinduism. Our activity was curtailed due to inclement weather and the impedance that caused, prolonging our travel time – not to mention rain, floods, darkened skies and no electricity.

While Therman and I were away for the day, Bonnie taught a ladies’ class of sisters in Christ from the congregation that is serving as our base of operations. About 20 ladies participated, and they also expressed appreciation of Bonnie’s book Living Principles (in Telegu). (We brought funds from an American congregation for publication of one of my writings, The Parables of Our Lord. It will be a combined, single printing in the Telegu language of both of my volumes on parables.)

Upon returning to Kakinada, I bought a plastic table and two plastic chairs to add to the Prophet’s Room in which we are lodging at the church building. It will double as an eating table and a work table; we used it for work first before we ever got around to eating our breakfast upon it.

Saturday, November 3, 2012, we woke to another rainy day in India. Three inches of rain fell overnight alone. Consequently, our morning meeting at a village some distance from Kakinada was washed out – literally! A swollen creek washed a bridge away, and there was nowhere dry in the village if we were able to get there. Elsewhere, flooded railroad tracks prevented Vinay David from Delhi arriving on schedule. Another American couple flying in had their flight cancelled due to inclement weather, and they were scurrying to find a flight to any airport within four hours driving distance of Kakinada. Not only are lectureship speakers finding it difficult to travel in view of the cyclone that has buffeted the east coast of India – which storm keeps on giving, but quite possibly the lectureship attendance may be adversely affected, too. Brethren also may have difficulty attending due to poor weather as well as interrupted train and car routes. Some may need to attend to storm damage of their homes, crops and workplaces. The rice crop, which was ready for harvest, has been destroyed by the cyclone.

Bonnie and I had some idle time on our hands today. With it we worked on articles for the November issue of Gospel Gazette Online, amused ourselves with some computer games, went shopping and communed with Therman Hodge, Betty Choate and the Gootams. In the evening, we went to a thanksgiving meeting to celebrate the purchase of a home by one of the members of the church; approximately 40 brethren were in attendance. Afterward, we returned to the Gootam’s for supper; Indians eat late supper meals compared to people in the United States.

Tomorrow is Bible class and worship with the Satyanani Church of Christ, in which building Bonnie and I are lodging. Monday will be preparation for the upcoming lectureship, and so only a morning outstation meeting is planned about an hour and a half from Kakinada. Otherwise, Bonnie and I will use available time to work on the next issue of Gospel Gazette Online. We never have a reason to be bored as long as we have time to ourselves and access to our mobile office.

 

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Summer of Death

October 29, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011 began this way, Bonnie noted:

At breakfast Vijay informed us that Elizabeth would leave tomorrow by bus to her parent’s home (200 kilometers away) as her grandmother is dying. She is the only family member who has not visited. While eating lunch Elizabeth received a phone call that her grandmother has passed away. Because of our visit and her responsibilities tied to us and the three-day program, she was unable to see her grandmother before she died. I feel so helpless and responsible and know the pain she is feeling. Vijay took Elizabeth by taxi car to her parent’s home this afternoon and plans to return for tomorrow’s preaching schedule.

Bonnie washed clothes in our room after breakfast, while I sketched a Bible Lands map on the blackboard outside our room in the prayer hall; the blackboard is a wall that has been painted black, perhaps with some material to accommodate the use of chalk. I taught two segments of the semi-monthly Bible class meeting here, both times on Bible Geography. It went well with both young boys and men participating. They have no maps and have not had this type of material presented in this way before; many were very appreciative.

Rittu Babu 2 years earlier

Rittu Babu 2 years earlier

For me, the most rewarding aspect of the program was when the new Christian, 13-year-old Rittu Babu preached one of the finest lessons that I have ever heard a preacher of any age or experience level present. Both the content as well as the manner of his presentation was flawless and deserving of exposure through a pulpit anywhere among the churches of Christ, including any pulpit among American congregations. This is no exaggeration! He is a prodigy for sure, and well groomed by his father and mother. Rittu was the master of ceremonies for the entire program except when it was time for him to preach, and he chose to preach in English and selected another Indian brother to interpret into the Telegu language. Rittu gave a riveting and challenging discourse on Matthew 22:15-22, “Rendering unto Caesar and Rendering unto God.”

Bonnie, Louis, Rittu, Vijay, Ricky, Elizabeth

The Rushmores & The Babus

After the Babus left for the family home of Elizabeth due to her grandmother’s death, Bonnie and I sat outside in the compound talking with the young boys who would be returning home on the next available buses. About that time a monkey jumped up on the wall and climbed the side of the building. Bonnie started up the stairs to get our camera when the boys intercepted her to keep her from the unfriendly monkey that might scratch and bite her; they accompanied her to our room to retrieve the camera. She did manage to get one nice picture of the monkey before it scampered away. Other monkeys in the distance were too far away to photograph well.

Later in the evening, Bonnie and I were in our room. She was reading a book and sitting on the bed, leaning on the headboard, when all of a sudden I heard her make a noise and jump off the bed; her being startled also startled me. A gecko had managed to get around the bug screen on the window above our bed, and he jumped or fell onto the bed beside her, before hopping off of the bed and speedily secreting itself behind our luggage at the foot of the far wall. There had been two geckos on the opposite side of the screen, and now we see none. She threatened me that if I don’t stop teasing her, something is going to get me after I fall asleep!

Bonnie and I were in Guyana, South America earlier this year when her mother became seriously ill and was moved from the nursing home in which she resided to a hospital (from which she never returned). We did arrive home before her mother died, but assured that she was in no immediate danger and that she might even recover enough to return to the nursing facility, we honored our previously scheduled weekend preaching appointments and headed afterward to Mary’s bedside. However, she worsened and died early in the morning before we arrived. Steve Hogan’s mother-in-law grew gravely ill and passed away before he arrived back home, and Bonnie began grieving again. Then today, Elizabeth Babu’s grandmother died in her absence while she was attending to us as her guests; Bonnie comforted Elizabeth and they hugged and cried many minutes. Death is real, and we all need to make appropriate preparation for it (Hebrews 9:27; 5:8-9).