Written by John Scudiere

It was a good day, Joel Gray competed his trainings.  Clearly, Joel has been teaching for many years – he makes it all look so easy.  When we talk, it very clear that teaching is his passion. 

I have been very impressed with the ideas that have emerged from his breakout sessions.  So, his training is also very effective – I guess that this is helped by his many years as an African missionary.  Understanding the culture is an important part of teaching.   

Today Joel was telling a story of a king that wanted God on his side.  God said “I am on neither side” – the question is “are you on my (God’s) side?”.  The question has made me think.  As I pray, am I on God’s side?  Will need to ponder this for a while.

Today we officially started the book of Hebrews.  Neal is so animated – “Jesus is just better…..”.  He is a wonderful and passionate teacher, and the group really enjoys his enthusiasm.   Which is of course is a good thing, because after lunch (after BIG meals) the eyes can grow heavy.  Neal keeps them engaged.

It was my job to help the group understand the Jewish culture in Jesus’ time.  To help them understand some of the “voices” tugging at these early Jewish Christians – calling them to turn back, away from Jesus.   So for the duration, I will be their rabbi, helping to interpret what these converted Jews thought and felt about Prophets, Angels, Patriarchs…..  All of the revered things of their culture that Jesus is better than.   The Rwandans love props, so when I am representing the rabbi, I wore a yarmulke (kippah).

I then I proceeded to talk about the prophets – and gave three specific examples where God was trying to get the attention of His people.

  • Isaiah – God instructed him to strip off and wander through Jerusalem naked and barefoot for three years.  Isaiah warned that the Assyrians would reduce those mighty nations to the same state as him
  • Jeremiah – God instructs the prophet to act out a lesson for the people.  He buys, wears, never washes, and buries a new underwear (waist sash) and then digs it up to discover that it’s ruined, no longer good for anything.  “Thus says the Lord: Even so will I spoil the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. This evil people, who refuse to hear my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart and have gone after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be like this loincloth, which is good for nothing”  (Jeremiah 13:8-10)
  • Ezekiel – Ezekiel was tasked to lay on his side for 430 days to symbolize the number of years the people of Israel and Judah had spent in sin.

And yes, most of the questions were about the dirty underwear and the yarmulke.

At the end of the day, it was time to recognize Joel.  The group was very appreciative.  Joel also appreciate the acknowledgement and very nice gifts.   It was a good end for the day.   He ended the 2.5-day marathon tired, but contented.