Theology can make you cheer.

After getting to know the city and being oriented to the people groups we are working with, today we finally met our students and taught the first class session.

Breakfast with the team was at eight. Lunch with the team was at 1:30. Other than that, we spend the day in preparations for classes.

I taught in a small upstairs room in a building about three blocks from our hotel. When I arrived early, several of the students were already there.

What a blessing to spend the evening with six brothers and one sister, all hungry for God’s Word! Our class had some very young believers and some who have believed for decades, but all were there ready to learn. Two are from Egypt, three from Syria, and two from Sudan. The interpreter I am working with, Abdeen, is wonderful. Though I don’t know him well yet, I can tell by his countenance that he finds much joy in the Lord.

We spent the first 45 minutes getting to know one another. I listened to their stories through the translator. Many of these brothers have been in jail, persecuted, or separated from their families. But they had such joy in the Lord!

After this I began teaching through the Book of Ruth. The purpose of the course is not merely to do a Bible of study of Ruth and Jonah, but to use those books to teach interpretation and preaching. So we talked not just about what the passages mean, but how to develop a sermon outline from them.

One of the most exciting parts of teaching the story of Ruth tonight was watching the faces of the students as they began to grasp the theology that the narrative is meant to communicate. Some of the students began the evening with the belief that Naomi’s declaration that her tragedies were from the Lord was mistaken. Yet by the end of the story, as they considered how God had worked all things for the good of his people, they embraced the comfort of believing in a good God who is sovereign over all things, even when we do not understand. Two of the men in the room—the two who at first seemed most resistant to the idea that God would be responsible for Naomi’s trials—cheered! That’s what good theology can do in the heart of a believer: make you cheer.

I look forward to the rest of the week and all that the Lord is going to do.

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