A Healthy Leader’s Bible Study Goes Deep

leather Bible sitting on a green couch

It didn’t take long telling Bible stories in South Asia to find out that Jesus’ healing of a bleeding woman (Mark 5:24–34) was the favorite story of many women. It was not a story I had spent much time on, so I was surprised at the women’s eager response upon hearing it.

Curious, I asked a Hindu friend about the story. She told me that for South Asian women, there were 3 main women’s issues in the story and almost every woman could connect with at least 1.

  1. M​ost Hindu and Muslim women are not allowed to worship when they are menstruating. No commentary was required to explain that to Asian listeners. These women knew the social stigma the bleeding woman had faced for so many years.
  2. H​ealth care is scarce for many people around the world, and many Asian women have known someone affected by the same health problem the bleeding woman suffered. It was more than just a bother—it affected her physical strength as well as her social status.
  3. In many cultures around the world, women are of lower status in the marketplace and religious settings, so the fact that this woman had the boldness to approach Jesus was amazing to the listeners. And that Jesus went against cultural norms to heal the woman and release her from her illness and social scorn was a blessed surprise.

As I listened to my friend, my eyes were opened to the richness of the story. This story that had not held meaning for me was striking for my listeners. This was a story of hope. What if I had not told that story because it didn’t appeal to me? As teachers, we tend to park in places that feel good to us and speak to us. A certain confidence comes from teaching from our comfort zone. Yet God’s Word is so much bigger than our experience of it.

A healthy leader’s Bible study goes deep when he or she tries to see a story from the viewpoint of the times in which it was written. The Bible was written in a culture similar to South Asian culture. Taking time to understand a story’s history and culture can enrich Bible study time.

A healthy leader must also take the time to understand what is in the story for him or her. That requires some meditation on the Word and application of the Word to his or her life.           

And, finally, a healthy leader’s Bible study goes deep when seen through the eyes of those with whom he or she wants to share. Taking time to listen to and understand the people around you in your missional setting, in the United States or abroad, allows you to connect in similar ways as the story of the bleeding woman connected with women in South Asia.

Danette High is an International Mission Board missionary emerita, the editor of Missions Mosaic, and the main presenter of the CWLC course Follower Skills.


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