Last year the small house-church network we share life, faith, and service with set three goals for the year. Among those was the goal of being more dedicated to reading scripture in small groups. We formed two groups, one to read through the New Testament and another through the whole Bible in a year starting last March (the beginning of the school year here in the southern Hemisphere).
Jake, Jaclyn, Justin, and I, along with Lola Montoya committed to reading the whole Bible together in a year, and we did! There were a couple other Peruvians Christians who signed up on the front end but for various reasons weren’t able to meet with us consistently.
It was my first time to read through the Bible in Spanish, which was great language practice. It also used a different part of my brain to wrestle with God as revealed through scripture. Doing that in community, with US Americans and Peruvians helped broaden my perspectives. The Bible is meant to be shared with other people, and crossing cultures during the conversation only makes interpretation even better. Our rhythm was about 25 chapters/week, and we would read on our own but get together one evening each week to drink tea, eat a bread/avocado/cheese dinner, and talk about what we were reading.
In a culture where reading is not emphasized, and weekly meetings seem hard to sustain for long periods of time, we defied the odds and met for a year straight, and finished this past March! Lola, who has been around the Bible her whole life (since her Catholic elementary school) and is now in her sixties, reflected on the experience this way:
We celebrated reaching the goal with a lunch at our favorite local Italian place!
Here’s where it gets even better. In March, the church did a reevaluation of the goals and decided, among other things, to continue our focus on sharing Bible reading. Three groups emerged: one to focus on the gospels, one to focus on Acts and the New Testament letters, and one to read through the Bible over the course of two years. Lola signed up for the whole kit and caboodle again—and invited a few others to join as well! She invited two friends from work and her landlord to join in. Two other Peruvian Christians, Manuela and Coki, are also part of the group along with Katie. This time around Jake and Jaclyn are part of the gospels group and Justin is part of the Acts/Letters group.
I love that the combination of Bible reading, food, and community led Lola to invite seekers into this—without any prodding on our (the missionaries’) part. The other groups experienced the same. Please pray with us for our reading this year, the conversations and shared life as we dive into these ancient stories and letters. May the Divine Author of this mission guide this entire process as we grow in our recognition of God’s presence around us and the reconciliation we experience in that presence.