I was honored to have the opportunity in July 2016 to travel to Cambodia and Nepal to train indigenous pastors in biblical interpretation. While I have taught New Testament and hermeneutics courses in higher education in America for ten years, nothing is more important to me than training pastors how to read the Bible accurately themselves. The art and science of biblical interpretation can be taught in such a way that it actually robs people of having confidence in their ability to interpret God’s Word. My hope is that the pastors and church leaders I trained are now better equipped to interpret the Word for themselves and their congregation, and that they can do this with more confidence than before.
In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, there were about 20 pastors and church leaders participating. We had three days together, spanning from about 8am-5pm. During this time we covered foundational principles related to interpretation, as well as some specialized topics like how to interpret certain types of literature found in Scripture, like the Gospels, parables, letters, and Old Testament law. They were a very interactive group and they seemed to grasp well the five steps for interpretation that I taught them. I found my conversations with Chhinho and Chanthea very edifying. The unity of the Spirit between us was obvious to me right from the beginning. Both men did an excellent job communicating with me and translating for me. I was greatly blessed to minister beside both these men. I was impressed with the degree of sacrifice that Chhinho is willing to endure to reach fellow Cambodians with the gospel.
In Butwal, Nepal, there were over 30 pastors (and over 40 people present overall). I taught for about 4 hours the first day, covering some introductory issues in interpretation. That night I came down with the stomach flu and was unable to teach the second day. Instead, Sarvajit was able to teach for the whole day on the gospel and how it impacts different areas of theology and Christian living. The Lord strengthened me enough on the third day to finish strong and teach the final 4 hours. Sarvajit impressed me as a man who is fully committed to preaching the gospel without compromise. His desire for doctrinal purity consumed many of our conversations.
Thank you HeartCry and HeartCry financial and pray supporters for this opportunity. There is no ministry that I could do that I could ever find more valuable than training pastors to more accurately interpret Scripture, and you have given me this opportunity.
Blessings on you! David A. Croteau Professor of New Testament and Greek Columbia International University