You may not know that, in addition to bringing you the Guidelines Commentary, Guidelines is a mission-minded ministry! Over the past half century we’ve partnered with missionaries and other ministries throughout the world, in bringing the hope of Christ to the lost in a variety of different ways that we call REACHING, TEACHING AND TOUCHING.
If you’re a listener of the Guidelines Commentary, you know that the Word of God is central to our ministry. And today, I’d like to share something exciting with you that’s happening to make the Word of God truly accessible to the fastest growing body of believers in the world—the Church in Africa.
With me today is Laura Livingston. Laura represents one of our ministry partners, Oasis Publishing. Welcome, Laura!
Laura Livingston: Thank you, Bonnie.
Bonnie Sala: Laura, I know you are an American by citizenship, but you’re also an African at heart. Tell us a little bit about your background.
LL: When I was in my 20s, my husband and I in 1982 went to Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa, and we spent the next 33 years teaching in all sorts of different ways in that country, and raised our children there, made our friends there, and put our roots down there. It really feels like home.
BS: Fantastic! You know, Laura, when Americans think of becoming missionaries, they immediately assume that God will send them to Africa—you know, become a missionary in Africa! But God was at work in Africa long before any missionaries arrived. Isn’t that true?
LL: Yes, and that’s one of the things that we really want to highlight with the notes in the Africa Study Bible—that God has been at work in Africa since the moment He created the continent. Right from the beginning, even when you read about Noah, his descendents settled in Egypt and in Libya so already we’re talking about Africa. It’s often mentioned because it connects with Israel in terms of land connection. And some of the most prominent voices in the early formation of the Church, in organization and doctrine, were theologians and scholars that were speaking out of Africa.
BS: You mentioned something about the notes in the Africa Study Bible. What is the Africa Study Bible?
LL: It’s a bible, like any other study bible, with notes, and helps, and charts, and maps, and timelines. But the difference is that the 2,600-plus features in the Africa Study Bible were written by African pastors and scholars and theologians from their perspective, applying God’s Word to life in their context. So they look very different from the notes of the study bible that I read.
BS: That’s fascinating! Why do we need an Africa Study Bible?
LL: We need an Africa Study Bible so that the millions of believers in that continent, where the Church is growing more rapidly than anywhere else in the world, can apply God’s Word in their context. For instance, when John Jusu, the editor of the bible, was a very young man he was listening to a village preacher, and the village preacher said, “God is not a vending machine!” and he went on with his sermon. “His will is not like a stoplight!” And John had no idea what he was talking about. He was in a village interior that you reach by foot path. And he wondered if that pastor even knew what he was talking about. Probably, he didn’t! He had just read it in a study help that was written in the West, and imported, and that’s what he had and that’s what he used. No one on the wooden benches in that village church understood what he was trying to say about God. So we need a bible with notes that relate to the world they live in.
BS: Second Timothy 2:15 exhorts us to study God’s Word so that we can handle or apply it to our lives correctly. Our prayer is that the Africa Study Bible will enable more and more believers to do just that.
Resource Reading: Matthew 7:24-27
Text: Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – March 15, 2017