Surprised by Jesus

I used to believe that the Bible is an old book that nobody reads. But then in October 2012, I met José, a Christian graduate who became a good friend. One day we started talking about the Bible. For me, this was a very sensitive topic. I thought that you had to avoid talking about politics and religion if you want to have a good relationship with others.

Then José invited me to a COMPA Bible study. I came away with more questions and doubts than before. José had given me a Bible, but I did not know how to read it. So, I asked him to teach me. He agreed and in the following week, we had our first official Bible study.

The approach which COMPA Mexico used to study the Bible was similar to the study technique which I used in science. This attracted me. I was surprised to realize that it is possible to take a rational approach to the Bible.

I was even more surprised by the person of Jesus. I discovered a new face of Jesus; I met a different Jesus. Previously, I thought that Jesus was one of many smart people in the history of our world – the smartest in his time. But I did not know that he has a big heart full of love. I used to think that Jesus was just a human being, but discovered that he is God.

BiblestudyMexicoReading John 1 was particularly significant for me. When I first read this passage, I was very confused: How can Jesus be God? How can he be both a person like me and fully God? These questions made me want to investigate more.

As I got to know Jesus better through other biblical stories, I started to understand. My vision of the world changed and I started to believe in a personal God. I became aware of my sin and the darkness in me. And what is most important: I met the love of God through the grace and hope which he gives us in Jesus.

I’m a scientific person. I want to be sure of something before I believe in it. If somebody had shown me a miracle, I don’t think that I would have believed. But I love to read; I love words. Jesus came into my life through his Word. I discovered that all the evidence necessary to believe in Jesus is there in the Bible, the Word of God. Early 2014, I started a Bible study group in my own school (see picture).

Sara Medina, student of chemistry and physics in Mexico
(sara.medinagom (at) gmail.com)

Don’t Just Keep on Running

We all agree that it is important. We keep our programmes running. But we rarely stop to reflect, evaluate and renew. Scripture engagement is usually not put on our agenda – the topic is not urgent enough.

But maybe it is urgent. Scripture engagement will not automatically remain strong in IFES if we just keep doing what we have always been doing. We need to identify and address the challenges of today if we want this generation of students to love, study, live and share God’s Word.

The Mexican movement stopped to do a mini-consultation in 2012. This one-day consultation brought together 27 staff, students and volunteers. The programme consisted of four sessions:

_Living in the Word. How can we integrate listening and responding to God’s Word in our own lives? If we want to strengthen Scripture engagement in our movements, we need to start with ourselves.

_Building up Convictions. We often assume that our students have certain convictions, but experience tells us otherwise.  What do they think about the Bible and how strong is its impact on their lives? Do students go to the Bible when reflecting on current issues such as sexuality, values, injustice? How can we strengthen this?

_Discovering Opportunities. In this creative and interesting session, each participant shared one experience or idea that worked well in their group.

_The Way Forward. Concrete steps were identified for after the consultation.

Each session lasted two hours and involved both time to work in small groups and time to share and discuss the results in the plenary. The participants prepared for the consultation by reflecting on the report of the global IFES Scripture Engagement consultation and by bringing one idea to share.

Through the consultation, challenges were identified, new ideas shared and many staff decided to put a focus on Scripture engagement in their ministry. Some plans for the future are:

  • to address global issues based on Scripture;
  • to  promote public and creative ways of engaging Scripture at university;
  • to study (whole) books of the Bible at all conferences – from different parts of Scripture;
  • to develop a national network which continues to work on strengthening Scripture engagement.

For more details, you can contact Ana Miriam Peralta, regional staff with COMPA Mexico and co-leader of the consultation: anamiriam (at) compa.mx.

There are other ways to stop and reflect. Last year, the IFES movements in East Asia ran a six-day regional conference on Scripture engagement. Other movements included reflection sessions on different aspects of Scripture engagement in their regular programmes.

Don’t just keep on running. It might not bring you where you want to go.

Sabine Kalthoff