Raise your hand if you’ve always wanted to read the Bible, but it always felt just a little too daunting to undertake on your own. Raise your hand if you’ve read the Bible but didn’t feel like you fully grasped the meaning of each passage or understood its relevance in your own life.
Ok. You can put your hands down (and so will I). Most of us have had “Reading the WHOLE Bible” on our agenda for quite some time — for some of us longer than others. And that’s OK! FUMCFW has decided the time has come to help you make this goal a reality in 2020! With the help and insightful leadership of Dr. Zhenya Gurina-Rodriguez, this goal can and will be accomplished through the 2020 Bible Challenge!
Reading the bible in its entirety is intimidating to say the least! Especially for us Methodists and even more so for people who may have never have stepped foot in a church before. Even Dr. Zhenya Gurina-Rodrigez admits that the reason she wanted to start this epic undertaking was because she had embarked on this journey at least five times before, only fully completing the task one other time! She confesses that trying to do something like reading the Bible cover to cover often times takes nothing more than a little accountability. Out of her adventurous desire, the 2020 Bible challenge was born!
When asked, Dr. Z said that the thing that was most surprising after starting the challenge was that, “People actually wanted to do it!” When she decided to begin the challenge, Dr. Z was unsure of just how many people would actually show up. She was hoping for at least ten to get started but was completely caught off guard when over 100 people registered! She said, “That’s why I added monthly meetings instead of meeting every other month. We just had so many people register!” What a wonderful problem to have.
So far the challengers have read through Leviticus. But there is still time to join in the journey! Dr. Z comments, “Don’t feel like you have to catch up in order to join in. Just come in wherever we are and start from there. There is plenty more for us to cover together.” She adds that there is not just one demographic represented among the challengers. Some are older, some are younger, some male and some female, members and non-members, this is truly a challenge for anybody with a desire to read the Bible!
One such Bible challenger, Julie Compton, mentions her favorite part of being in the challenge is simply the fact that, “I’m doing it! I’m reading the Bible!” She continues on to say, “I love the experience of meeting up every month and being able to ask Zhenya questions every week. We have the freedom to question and a chance to learn about the scripture from a historical and scholarly viewpoint.”
This Bible challenge offers readers the opportunity to read alongside other “first-timers” and also the unique chance to ask your questions and gain some insight on how a book written thousands of years ago could have any real-life applications. Dr. Z says that she loves getting to answer such thoughtful questions each week and admits she feels very heartened by the fact that everyone pays such close attention to the details mentioned in each chapter!
Dr. Z was not shy to mention that readers find some parts of the Bible difficult to understand or may not find much relevance in their own lives. She said an important element of this journey is to, “Normalize the fact that what you are reading is confusing. And know that that is ok.” She wants anyone to know that, “When you read the entire thing, it sort of demystifies it a bit.” Challengers will not only be able gain historical and scholarly context but also some insight into this text that has become shrouded in a mystery.
More than anything, Dr Z hopes that this experience will provide her challengers a special time in their days to develop “spiritual discipline.” She wants readers to feel empowered as a Christian through discussion, knowledge, and simply reading! She wants each and every challenger to use this opportunity to think critically about how this book can apply to your life and ultimately to develop your own conclusions. She is there to help be the lighthouse, but the journey is truly your own.