Wilrens Hornstra, for many years involved with the SBS in Germany, presently on staff at YWAM’s Leadership Retreat Centre near Malaga, Spain
An unspoken value we share in SBS (why else would we study so much?) is that we love to learn. We want to grow in our understanding of Scripture, in our grasp of background issues, and in our teaching skills as well.
There are many ways to make this happen. I am using “learning site” here as a metaphor for any space, time, or activity we create or engage in for the sake of learning. I am about to launch such a learning site, both for myself and for anyone who’d like to join me. I am calling it “Create a Learning Site”, and it includes a weblog and a monthly e-mail training letter in the area of biblical studies and teaching.
Here is a bit of my story to explain why I am doing this.
One day between Christmas and New Year’s Eve in 2009 I was praying alone in our SBS classroom in Germany. During this time, God spoke and asked me to put down the school and its classroom.
Since I had been wholeheartedly involved in SBS for more than 20 years, you might think that this was a hard thing to do. It actually wasn’t. God asked so lovingly that it was easy. I count it as one of my deepest personal moments with God. I have no doubts that it was the right thing to do, and I have no regrets.
I did miss that classroom, though, even if I continued to do a number of lecture weeks in various locations each year. I also missed the many hours spent in study and lecture preparation. (My wife calls me a Bible nerd. If you ask me, this is a gross exaggeration, but I have to admit it makes a point, so I mention it here).
It felt right to be away from ‘home’ and comfort zone for a while. It has been fulfilling to help establish a leadership retreat centre for YWAM in Europe, which is what we have been doing since 2010. But at times it has also felt like – a desert. Which is not all bad. A desert is a good place to do some hard thinking, asking tough questions like: what do I want to do with my life?
Or how about this one, a favourite with people who coach: If you could do whatever you like (no possibility of failure, no worries about finances or anything else), what would you do? I have found this to be an excruciatingly difficult question to answer. But I did find the beginning of a reply:
Two of the things I have enjoyed most in my life is (believe it or not) writing the dissertations for my degrees: one on eschatological prophecy (Isaiah) and another one on Christian Zionism in Germany.
What I love doing is to study a subject and then pass on what I have learned, either in a classroom or in writing. I haven’t been doing this nearly enough lately. And then one day it dawned on me: what am I waiting for?
So this is what I am going to do. It will be part of my continuing involvement with SBS, even without having my ‘own’ classroom. I am starting a learning site. It is my new classroom, sort of. Once a month I will share what I am learning in the area of biblical studies and teaching in the form of an e-mail newsletter and in the form of a blog on the website.
I will aim to find topics that help us become better interpreters and teachers of the Bible. And practitioners, let’s not forget. Topics that will help us to keep learning and to keep growing. I will do this with SBS and BCC staff and graduates in mind. Anyone else who wants to learn in this area is welcome too. Another way to describe this is that I am building a bridge between good biblical scholarship and those of us who may not think of themselves as scholars, but do teach the Bible or least enjoy taking a deeper look at things. Every once in a while I’ll throw in a special project, where I set myself a learning goal and take you along with me.
The website is accessible at www.wilrens.org, with an option to sign up for the training letter. That way, you are guaranteed not to miss any issues: you get them delivered to your mailbox. To unsubscribe is easy, so you are not risking anything. This is the learning site I am creating. Have a look, and if you like what you see, join me on this journey of discovery!