We finished our workshop with the Lahu pastors yesterday. It was a great week and I think they made great progress. Wednesday was a tough day, but also a productive day. I tried a new approach to teaching what we call the Biblical/Gospel Story; the unfolding story of redemption as it occurs through the course of scripture. As I was speaking, I was gaining new insights myself and forgot that I was supposed to be training and spent the whole time teaching. I didn't realize until later that none of the pastors were going to be able to pass that information on, it was too complicated. So, yesterday I had to spend some time presenting a simpler version that they all seemed to understand. I am still learning, both how to train and about the subjects I am teaching. I think that the insights I gained will help me develop a better workshop in the future, and I learned some lessons on training as well. It was good for the Lahu to see that we make mistakes and are learners as well.
In their last preaching presentations, 3 of the pastors spoke about the need to stop just following their traditions and start following the Bible. This is something that we have been concerned about, but have never really addressed with them. What they were doing was responding to the new insights they are gaining as they learn to study better. That really is the only way to kill stale tradition. If you cannot study the Bible you cannot address tradition or change. But if you can study well, you have a basis in the authority of the Word for making difficult changes. I was excited that they were learning that on their own.
Today we had a debrief with the Lahu leader, who is our main translator. It was a good meeting and we learned a lot. One surprise was that he had no idea what we meant by "Biblical/Gospel Story. He had never encountered a "/" before and so he translated it "the redemptive story in the Bible", which might actually be better. It made me recognize once again that what seems so normal to me as an educated American can make no sense to nationals. That is why we try so hard to simplify our terms. Now, this is another one to work on. We asked him to tell us this sort of thing earlier. He is still learning that we can be questioned or even disagreed with. We are making good progress in our relationship.
Our host missionaries, the Callahan's, recently visited a remote village church that had a new Burmese pastor. As they were getting to know him, he asked about their ministry at the school. They mentioned how excited they were about the training we were giving the pastors. When they described it he said, "Oh, I am getting that training. Charli, one of our students, is training some other Burmese pastors and they are teaching me." What a blessing to hear that the training is being passed on in ways we could not imagine.
We are going to go up into the mountains to visit some of the Lahu villages this weekend and I will have a chance to visit Charli's church and hear him preach. I think he is a little nervous but that he also really wants us to come. It will be a good chance for me to hear how he is really doing. I rarely get to hear our students preach in their own churches. I am sure he will do well, he is one of our best students. Doing this ministry has helped me learn to appreciate progress in people's lives and grow in real patience. I think that is a good side benefit of what we do; we continue to see the Lord causing us to grow.