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Jul 5, 2007

The Relevance of Ruth

It was certainly expensive to bring the whole team to this area, not just in terms of travel costs but also in working hours. They all began to plan how the food could be used and what activities and research could be done to make use of the time. The next day, however, 23 pastors arrived to attend the workshop.

burunge.pastors_workshop1 Burunge pastors at the Jonah and Ruth Workshop
The workshop began with a group discussion on what people believed a Bible study was and where it should take place. Should the pastor allow the congregation to answer questions? Could it only take place in church? On Sunday? Should men and women have studies? What should be the aim of a Bible study?

One day was dedicated to understanding the background of the book Ruth. We live in a world now where much of the cultural and historical context of the writings of Holy Scripture have been lost. The background information on Ruth helped the pastors-most with no Bible training-to connect their own culture with life in biblical times.

For the Burunge, the book of Ruth speaks volumes. Many Burunge remember what it was like to flee their homeland because of famine. The Burunge also have a tradition of inheriting wives if a brother has died. So for the Burunge the book of Ruth hits close to home; they are able to identify with the traditions and understand its message.

They began to ask themselves whether, as Christians, it was right or wrong to continue the practice of inheriting wives. Many Burunge Christians now refuse to continue this practice, yet there it is in the Old Testament.

The workshop provided a safe environment for the pastors to ask questions of the text, which may otherwise have been too embarassing for them since their congregations believe they should have all the answers. All 23 pastors showed up for the workshop not because they knew the answers, but because they wanted to know!

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