As I shared in the previous Nugget, there have been many times that God has put within me thoughts and responses to situations I have encountered that seemingly have been His intention for me behind the scenes. The way God’s Awesome Book was born was a classic example. Sitting on the plane coming back from Germany after realising what we faced in Wycliffe worldwide with declining trust in the Word of God by believers, the issues to address came to mind. Oh, I don't mean thoughts that I had never thought before came out of thin air and just popped into my mind. What came to mind was knowledge that was very much a part of me and who I am. I came to Christ as a result of apologetics and the search for truth. I have a personal library filled with books on science and the Bible, Evolution vs Creation, Archaeological finds which substantiate the Bible, the transmission of text of the Bible, translation issues and difficulties etc. Sitting on the plane the broad sweep of what I needed to address came to me.
But as has happened so often before God then guides the process by people He brings across my path to give input, share a thought, give me a book etc. It happens time and time again. Some of it I am sure is the happenstance of circumstance. Let me give you some examples: When teaching God’s Awesome Book in various places around New Zealand I would encounter people who came up to me after the seminar asking if I had ever read this book or that book. I would say “No, I have not seen that book.” Chuck Missler’s book “Cosmic Codes” with a section in it related to the Genesis Five Genealogy I had just shared. Or David Rohl’s book “A Test of Time” which led me to a solution to synchronize the timing of the Pharaonic reigns in Egypt to match the timing of the Kings of Israel. In these two cases the person who told me gave me a copy of the book the following week when I came back to the Bible College or church to continue teaching the series. Or meeting Colin Candy at a GAB meeting in Wellington and him giving me a copy of his book “Reading the Bible in Historical Sequence”. When you embark on a journey in God doing something that He wants you to do, He supplies you with the extra resources you need through His people. It happens naturally as a part of the process of life, you simply follow up the leads. Oh but there have been times when those leads have happened supernaturally by the work of the Holy Spirit. (That part of the story is destined for a later Nugget).
When we responded to the call from Wycliffe International to go and help Kartidaya, the first thing I was asked to do in the context of church engagement and recruitment was to develop Buku Ajaib Tuhan (God’s Awesome Book) and Menggali Harta Terpendam (Digging for Hidden Treasure) in Indonesian in order to bless the churches and Christians of Indonesia. I did that for five years and developed a team around me to teach it instead of me. I saw in the process of having done that in New Zealand and now doing it again in Indonesia that we needed to do it differently and make adjustments for a new cultural setting. Recruiting individuals from churches and Bible Colleges as we had done in NZ, was not the way to do it in Indonesia. Rather there we needed to recruit churches and Bible Colleges directly. Not a recruitment of individuals one by one against the tide but recruiting the church denomination or the Bible College to the foundational idea that Bible translation needed to be a major part of the Great Commission.
Doors began opening for us, giving us many opportunities to share the over-arching message and goal of what we were doing. But I realised too at the same time there were other issues involved having been the Director back in NZ. I had experience on both sides of divide, the recruitment and sending end and the receiving and fieldwork end. I began putting the pieces together naturally, recognizing the things that were needed to make the whole work rather than focusing on the pieces. But in doing that I found myself butting heads with the leadership at the other end. We were clearly headed in different directions. So after five years, I was looking for something to change and I am sure I was a thorn in the side of the administration in situ. That is when God began to intervene again by the input of other people to steer me in a different direction.
During the course of this time we had made our church home at Jakarta Praise Community Church (JPCC) and had been welcomed into their midst as part of the family. I shared Buku Ajiab Tuhan and Menggali Harta Terpendam firstly with the leaders of the church and then later with the masses. Believe me there were thousands of them. We had become a part of a mega church who were hungry for the Word of God. One thing that impressed us in our first months in the church was each time the Word was read in church, the young people would stand to their feet to honour it. We felt like we were in living in the days of Nehemiah, it was a thrill to see.
In this context when we concluded that we needed to find another way of doing things we turned to our church – JPCC. I had input from our Wycliffe Director from NZ and felt that we needed to do something radically different. To work directly with the church rather than organisation to organisation. So I went to my pastor Jeffrey Rachmat and asked him if there was a possibility that JPCC would sponsor our visa. His reaction was such a surprise. He said, “Ian, I have been waiting for you to say that for the last number of years. Yes yes yes. We would be honoured to sponsor your visas.” As we sat down to sort out what that would look like Jeffrey asked me if I could develop a package that would train and equip his leaders to go deep into the Word of God in order to learn how to lead the people deeper in the Word. Yes, I could do that. Instantly, the structure and schema for doing it popped into my mind as we talked. Deeper Bible was conceived.
Around the same time Lilly Wanandi sent me an invitation to Twitter which I dismissed out of hand. There was no way I wanted to get involved with Twitter, texting short messages on social media. I couldn't see the point in it. Some weeks later when I had not responded, Lilly sent another invitation which I again ignored. It was only after I received her third invitation (thanks for being so persistent Lilly) at a time I was having lunch with Kenny Goh to discuss a revamp of God’s Awesome Book for youth that Kenny helped me to see the light. Kenny said “Seriously Ian, you should do that. Join Twitter. You are perfectly suited for Twitter. You have all those short pithy sayings that you bring out in your teaching that are impactful. That is what Twitter is all about. It’s not about the social media aspect only. It’s about getting a message out there in 140 characters. You should do it.” As I thought what I would do I sensed God gave me the idea of having my Quiet Time live on the Internet and Bible Gems were born. [Nuggets had been conceived in the JPCC context some years before in July 2006 when Jeffrey asked me if I would write a monthly article for JPCC’s Breaking News magazine around the idea of Nuggets from Word.] That is what I mean by being led by circumstances and the input of others. I have stuck solely to the story related to the change of direction from organisation to church and the development of Gems, Nuggets and Deeper Bible. The impact in combination of these three tools I has been amazing.
I would never have imagined I would have written 1,900 Gems when I first started Gems on the 9th September 2009. Yes, I still remember the date I started. It's easy – 09/09/09. Thanks Lilly for prodding me in this direction and thanks to you Kenny for encouraging me to pick up on Lilly's suggestion and helping me to look past my aversion to Tweeting social networking trivia. I could not see the point of telling people that I was "having coffee in Starbucks with Kenny". But God has used this in amazing ways. I am amazed that Gems have spread around the world. I was emailing up to 12,000 people daily at one stage before MailChimp pruned my lists to conform to industry standards. (That is why you have dropped off the list if you have.) I found the Gems are being used as the curriculum base for three Bible colleges. They are used in countless churches, university campuses and Bible Colleges as focused discussion material. Hundreds of pastors around the world tell me they love the material I send or they read from other places. They use it for one-off sermons or a preaching series. One Bible College in Indonesia uses the material as the basis of their course material on Luke's Gospel. It amazes me.
People from all walks of life seem to like the Gems. Pastors love them because of the depth that I go into with each Gem, while trying to keep it focused. But they also love them for the quotes I add at the end of each Gem. Gems are written to exemplify what I teach in Deeper Bible. In fact to write the Gems, I simply apply the principles I teach in Deeper Bible. It is not hard, anybody can do it. That is why housewives and army colonel's love it too. I think the strangest group that have told me they follow Bible Gems are the Bikers Patchwork Group. Just the name boggles my mind. The Vail Trail newspaper in Vail, Colorado even used a selected Gem each week to publish in the paper under the Religious section. How ironic is that, given our newsletter is called Vails’ Trails?
All of the above came about fortuitously as a result of responding to input from others as described above. I firmly believe I was led by God to write Nuggets and Gems and to develop Deeper Bible. I think it is the most impactful thing I have done. Far more influential than God’s Awesome Book. Yet God put it all together so easily and so naturally. Not with lights in the sky but by using His people gathered around me – many of you.
I am currently working my way through all 1900 Gems, Nuggets and Quotes getting them in the format to launch the new website. The website is ready. I have the massive task of configuring the Gems and Nuggets to fit the format of the website. Many of you have asked, primarily you Jeffrey, for the Gems to be searchable and hot linked. That is what I am now working on. When that is done it will be made available to you all. I will begin Gemming Philippians when I can write them and put them straight on the new website. This new website will ultimately have everything I have ever created but I have realised to my astonishment I have created a lot of stuff.
I am also working on honing Deeper Bible to be available as an online course with some great motion graphics developed by Datta and Yoni and sponsored by JPCC. I can’t wait for the moment when this website is launched. I still have some months of work to do to finish the first phase. I do it because I love God’s Word and I have a passion for teaching God’s people how to fish for themselves. Why? Because that is the course God has had me on for the last 40 years and He has been using many of YOU to keep me keeping on.