I traveled to the city of Jangaon in India this summer. It’s in the new state of Telangana, about 50 miles from Hyderabad (population about 7 million). I went with an organization called Evangelizing India for Christ, started by former CIU professor Dr. Richard Belcher. A CIU alumnus, Tom Keller, was making his seventh trip to India went with me.
Our task was mainly to train about 90 pastors. I taught biblical interpretation over four days. I began by discussing the importance of interpreting Scripture and explaining the process. Then I provided some general principles for interpretation (like paying attention to context). In the final two days, I taught on interpreting specific genres of Scripture: Gospels, Letters, Parables, Law, Poetry, and Wisdom. All of this teaching was through a translator. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but I knew that I was doing God’s work and that people would be happier and more relaxed if they knew that God is with them. I know I did have a translator, but even with a translator things could get a little tricky. The teachings were going to be held in an orphanage. I knew that it was my best interest and it was their best interest to learn and understand the preaching I was going to give to them.
It can be very difficult to know if what you are teaching (in any context) is being understood by the students, but especially in a different culture and all the more when someone else is translating your words. There’s always a doubt about the accuracy of the translation (though I believe my translator did an excellent job). Finally, you never know if your illustrations make any sense in a radically different context.
As my teaching time ended, I was a little down. While several of the pastors explained that they now understood the importance of paying close attention to context, two comments stood out. One pastor said that he had a seminary degree but never learned anything about interpreting Scripture. He was very excited to put into practice what he had learned. Another pastor said that he had always chosen “random” verses and preached on them. Now he realized that he needs to pay attention to the context of the verses and he wanted to try preaching through books instead of selecting random verses. This was encouraging, indeed!
Two days later I heard the children singing songs again, so I peeked around the corner to watch them. They also heard my preaching, and I was very happy about it! One of the ministry leaders came over and asked me to deliver a message again. The children would be very happy to hear it again.
Most of us know or at least heard that Sweden is one of the coldest countries in the world. Or at least when we thing of Sweden we think of snow and winter. They are a developed society with a big tendency for social awareness. But the people in Sweden are starting to get a little bit hungry for spiritual guiding. They have seen and heard a lot of preaching on how to behave and how to be good and how to be aware of the less fortunate ones. But they need something new. They are all there, and they are all accepting God and Jesus. They believe that they will save them and their souls. In an era where everything is rolling around money and success and corporate companies, this is a nice change for example. People are starting to be more spiritual and less cold in nature.
Souls that need to be saved
Many of these people have been thinking, and they made a decision that if something is out there, then, it is probably best for us to be good in order not to get punished. We believe that these types of people are probably the minority. Others just like and think that it is normal to do God’s work and good deeds. They look in their children’s eyes, and they look their families and probably think that the world could be a better place for them if they try to make it a better place for their children. That is at least they can do. People are starting to develop a sense for others, and in countries like Sweden, this is also considered a normal thing because these countries have a good social policy and are considered the “Welfare state.”
A normal thing
These states care about the life and education of their citizens. But citizens now need a spiritual guide, and this is a great thing for them. They have started to wake up to the spiritual world. These people have realized that this is the way for them to follow.
When we usually want to travel, we will choose the destination that is interesting for us. A lot of sites could help us with those destinations, but the choice is ours. You should choose the destination that will bring joy and new things that you probably don’t know they even exist. When traveling you will learn some new cultures, customs, religions and beliefs and philosophies this is a normal thing and if you like learning about these things, then, traveling is a thing for you. You just need to choose the method of traveling, and you are good to go. When you travel in some areas of the world, it is a good idea to know the general customs and laws in the region or area where you go to prevent any problems. Some laws that are in your country and that allow some things are forbidden in other countries of the world.
Make sure you do your research and get as much information as possible. Some countries and cultures have unusual laws and customs, so it is very important to know what to do and what not to do. A guide is always a good thing to have to tell what is ok and what isn’t. Just make sure that you listen to him/her because you could have a lot of bad situations. When traveling, you will have the opportunity to learn about different lives, and you will see how people work and live in different areas of the world. You would be amazed how different areas and climates give different ways of thinking. Some parts of the world, for example, think that eating animals is not good or even not pure, but some parts think it is a normal thing.
Developing your soul
When traveling to different areas of the world, your knowledge will be more extensive, and you will learn some new philosophies and new ways of thinking and views on life. You will probably be more spiritually experienced. It is not a guarantee, but you could try it. Some people believe that when you travel and meet different philosophies, your mind starts to think about it and you are starting to develop critical thinking and your spirituality starts to grow. Some people call this an awaking of your inner being or soul. It is probably a good way to wake up and feel the knowledge and spiritual bond with the world. You would be amazed how different landscapes produce the effect on your mind and body. People suddenly start to develop a feeling that they need to be good or better and some even change dramatically.