Good Rain – This is Rwanda’s rainy season, but there has been a persistent drought.  That is until we came, 3 out of 5 days have seen good downpours – and the earth is soaking it up.  Perhaps our coming also brings good rain.  

Shane gave an assignment to the class – the group was divided into seven teams, each was given a chapter from Joel (3 chapters) or Jonah (4 chapters).  The assignment was to define a sermon from their assigned book; title, main point and 3-5 supporting statements.  This morning each group stood up and shared their work.  It was gratifying to see that they did a good job building sermons from the past two days of teaching.  You are never sure what gets through to them until you have the opportunity to check comprehension – comprehension was good.  Shane is still working on sermon development, having them focus more on finding ways to increase application for their congregation – this is a process.  Each team reported – and the ideas presented can serve as the basis for sermons thoughout the year for all pastors. 

Today, I taught Amos.  As Tevia in “Fiddler on the Roof “, God finally said there is “no other hand” and determined that the kingdom of Israel would be dispersed.  And the Assyrians did take them into captivity about 40 years later – the Northern Kingdom of Israel was never to be heard from again – these are the lost 10 tribes of Israel. 

The kingdom of Israel society people were self-indulgent, pampered people, lounging on couches, drinking bowls of wine and taking advantage of the poorer class in the markets and courts.  Successful military campaigns had expanded the country to include lucrative trade roughs between Egypt and Assyria – there were taxes to be collected and Israel became rich.  This was the most prosperous time in Israel’s history, except during Solomon’s time.  Most of the wealth was held by 3% of the population.  Israel was very proud of what they had accomplished.  Times were very good, and God was not needed.  The religious rituals were impressive, but there was no heart for what mattered to God.  God gave up on this branch of the covenant family.  This was a pretty miserable outcome for the kingdom of Israel. Are there echoes of these characteristics in our land? 

After each chapter, I entertained Q&A, and the questions were all very good.  None of the bizarre or stump the professor questions.  They are learning well. 

Shane again gave them the assignment to prepare sermon outlines – one team, each one of the chapters 3-9. 

Our hosts, the student pastors, Shane and I are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Neal, Christina and Peggy.  There is a special chemistry when we are serving together. They should be flying toward us as I am writing this.  Hopefully the snow did not get in the way and they are safely in the air.