Matt and Forrest planned a special week of guest speakers that ended today. The students enjoyed learning about different cultures and were challenged to contemplate who or what shapes their beliefs and actions.
Tuesday – Hatem Elsayegh from Palestine. Hatem grew up in an Islamic world and converted to Christianity. He emphasized the need for understanding opportunities around us to represent Christ. Hatem is a brilliant man with two graduate degrees from Duke University.
Wednesday – Pastor Alex Villasana from Mexico. Alex’s understanding of Jesus was developed from being raised in a traditional Latin American Catholic background. As he grew older, he began to evaluate the faith of his youth against his understanding of Jesus in the Scriptures and transformed his faith from a set of rules and meaningless (to him) rituals into a deep relationship with Christ. Now Alex is a church planter trying to help other people experience a real relationship with Jesus. On a side note, we found out in class that Alex hails from the same Mexican city as does the mother of one of our students!
Thursday – Pastor David Lee from Korea. David talked about the distinctness of Korean culture in which society plays a much bigger role in one’s life than does the American notion of individualism. David shared how Confucianism is an important part of his culture, and his journey led him away from the path of his culture into a personal relationship with God through Jesus. David was a pastor at a United Methodist Church in Duluth, but has now started a church to reach all kinds of different types of people in the community – people who might not feel comfortable in a more traditional church experience.
Friday – Everett returned to class to talk about American culture and the values and attitudes that compete with the teachings of Jesus and the Bible and how to be transformed by changing the way we think (Rom 12:2). Everett talked about his own struggle with craving material wealth versus the warnings of the Bible to avoid the love of money because of the destruction it can bring in our lives.