Bible storytelling with local believers in Pakistan
Posted on: 5th February 2018
David and Georgina Newmarch have returned from Islamabad where they were hosts at Aram, a rest house for local and foreign Christians in Pakistan. David writes about his other ministry running Bible studies with local believers, encouraging them through Bible storytelling to read and understand the Scriptures for themselves.
Many believers in Pakistan don’t read the Bible for themselves and the only bit of teaching they get is on a Sunday. My main desire in the Bible study groups was to encourage local Christians to realise that they can read the Bible and, with the Holy Spirit’s help, understand what the passage is about. Sometimes I just had a group for one weekend and we might only cover four to six stories. Other groups I was able to meet with weekly for a few months. In every case, I wanted to model how they could access the Bible for themselves with the Holy Spirit’s help.
In the groups, I adapted a method called the Discovery Bible Study in which we would read the story two times and then retell it to one another. Sometimes I would tell the story in English and then we would read it in Urdu. Afterwards, we would get in pairs or groups of three and tell the story to each other. By the time we got to the discussion, we had already heard the story four or five times.
During the discussion, we asked questions like: What does this tell us about God or Jesus? What does this verse or phrase mean? What things do we need to do or obey from this reading? Why did God put this in the Bible? Why is it important? I tried to get them to discover for themselves the truths and important ideas from the passage. By asking simple questions, my hope was that they would learn key truths, but also see that the Bible was accessible for them without me.
I was encouraged in the groups as people shared that this was something new and helpful for them in reading the Bible. Some of them said to me, “I have never read the Bible like this” or “I am discovering truths for myself”.
However, one disappointment is that I am not sure how much people continued reading the Bible after our time together. As an example, one day one of our friends, Nasir, was visiting Aram and he said, “I have come on some of your organisation’s courses and every time the Bible is very important. I want to learn more about the Bible. Can you come and teach us?” So, about four months later, I drove five hours to a city of three million people. Nasir advertised the Bible teaching weekend among his friends and was hoping that about 25 would come. We were to start on Saturday morning at 9:30am.
Well, on Saturday at 9:30am, no one was there. But that was good because it gave us time to clean the hall which Nasir had rented, but which was filthy with dust and papers. By 10am, there was one other person. By 11am we had a dozen, so we started. During the day a few drifted in and out, but we ended with about 12 or 13. The next day, we were not surprised that we started late again. People came and went and we had about 16 at the end.
I left them with some homework of Bible reading and returned seven weeks later for another weekend of Bible discovery. It was virtually a new group, but they all seemed to appreciate the weekend. Nasir had hoped to continue to meet with some of the people from the two weekends to study the Bible, but he has not been able to get a group going yet. Please pray that he might be able to motivate a group to meet together to study God’s word.
Thank God for Nasir and his desire to learn more about the Bible. Pray that he would continue to read the Scriptures and that he would be able to start a Bible study group with local believers in his city.
Pray that Christians in Pakistan would be encouraged to open the Bible and read God’s word for themselves. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in helping them to understand the key truths in the passages they read.