Monday, December 12, 2011

The Chinese Underground Church and Hermeneutics

A Chinese Proverb states: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

I was contacted two weeks ago by a friend who runs a missions organization. When he was at a conference in November, he ran into a couple from the underground church in China. They had been brought over to the U.S. by a parachurch group for training and discipleship, only to find out that the group was a cult. So he took them away from the cult and spent two week training them. He videotaped all the lessons with a translator present. The couple and another missionary will be bringing the videos back to the underground church in China and they will be spreading them throughout the country. He asked me to do one day on hermeneutics. So last Thursday morning I drove up and taught all day. I covered basic principles of interpretation, the hermeneutical journey (the steps according to Grasping God’s Word), and genre specific principles (Gosples, letters, parables, and OT law). I think it went very well. I had never taught through a translator before, but the translator did an excellent job. Please pray for the couple as they continue being discipled.

What an honor it was to meet this couple and open God's Word to them. I was very confused about how to approach some of the hermeneutical issues I wanted to address since I didn't know anything about Mandarin. I had a section on "pronouns," but I didn't know if their language used pronouns! I had a section on active and passive verbs, but I didn't know if their language did that! The translator was exceptional and very helpful in these areas ... and many others (they do use pronouns and have active and passive verbs). I was able to use the Chinese Bible I have from Bibleworks and put the verses I was talking about on a screen so they could read them as I taught. Praise God for Bibleworks!!! (I've said that many times!)

My prayer is that the people who watch the video will learn to did into God's Word themselves, that they will search the Scriptures thoroughly, that they will be diligent, yet cautious, that their time in the Word will lead to a renewed mind, and thus, transformation. May they learn and practice digging deep into God's Word for themselves, and not only depend upon others to feed them.

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