These past four days were the most beautiful and challenging I think I have ever had. Four people from our team had the privilege of visiting the BSFB Chittagong Regional conference. This is a conference where all the students from the Bible Students Fellowship of Bangladesh meet to worship together and build community. We were welcomed warmly by both staff and students. Our first direct interaction with them was on Friday morning. The students sat with their respective groups (from whatever part of the region they came from) and they sang a song: “Bangladesh will be reached for Christ; how sweet is the name of Jesus”. Bengali dance is normally part of the musical worship, so as the MC/host sang the song, he would call a group up to the front and they said their names. My teammate and I walked to the stage, nervous, excited and a little embarrased to dance. We were welcomed so warmly.
The hospitality with which we were received is unexplainable. We were invited for special tea times. People gave up their beds and their privacy so we could have a place to stay. People hosted us in their homes when we needed rest. Friends served our food. Friends were attentive and asked if we were having a good time. Friends translated from Bangla to English for us. Brothers and sisters gave us their time, their attention, gave us priority. Brothers and sisters extended themselves in many ways. They extended their friendships, they extended their love. It was so beautiful. We didn’t deserve it, but they loved us.
I had the honour of facilitating a manuscript inductive study part of Acts 4.
We have been told by some of our hosts that the education system in Bangladesh does not allow students to think critically or question, but they are encouraged to memorize information. For this reason they really valued that we taught Scripture as we study it in Inter-varsity, using the inductive manuscript method. This is a three-step method where we observe the text, interpret it and apply it to our lives; we interpret what the author meant to say looking at what he wrote, instead of taking what we already know and using it to interpret what the text says. Studying the Bible inductively has changed the way I see Scripture and allowed me to understand very deeply what God wants to teach me. Through it I have been encouraged and challenged, and I also really love Scripture! so teaching Scripture was one of the most exciting parts of the conference for me.
I was told that women usually don’t take part in serving at church except for prayer meeting. I was so honoured to be greeted by them and thanked and congratulated for teaching Scripture by the women and even some of the men. It was an empowering experience for them, and for all the students to be told “I used to think questioning the Bible was wrong… but only when we ask questions we are able to seek understanding! Ask and you will receive!”. Although it was their first time studying Scripture in this way, they had great questions. They wrestled with the text and thought about what it meant in their own lives. One of the male students spoke to me after, and told me that he was really blessed by Scripture that morning, that he did not think of doing what Scripture taught him before he studied it.
I am very excited to be a part of God’s kingdom. I am so excited to bring Shalom in a small way by facilitating a Scripture study. I am so blessed by every conversation I had in the past few days, every gift of love. I am so blessed to be in Bangladesh. My heart cries rejoicing about the things God is doing in this place! He is good!