TO THE 2016 EDITION OF SHARING MAGAZINE! Have you ever heard the trees clap their hands? When a gentle breeze blows through a stand of quaking aspens – if you stop to listen – you’ll hear joyous applause as the forest praises its Maker. I wonder if that’s what the prophet Isaiah had in mind when he penned these words so long ago: The trees of the field shall clap their hands … the mountains and the hills break forth in singing. … Welcome to the 2016 edition of Sharing magazine!
KIMM CARR Executive Director
From the Ministry Service Center in Colorado, we enjoy the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, and with it, the aspens that dot the mountainsides. And the trees on the hillsides hide a secret. It’s the secret of their strength and tenacity. Buried beneath the forest floor is a massive root system that connects the thousands of trees to each other. What we see as a forest grove is, underground, one living organism. While aspens can grow alone, they are more often extensions of a central root. Each individual tree draws its life from one source. It’s a model we follow at Community Bible Study. While there are many Classes – in many countries around the world – we are united by five essentials: Individual Study, Encouraging Discussion, Effective Teaching, Insightful Commentary, and Caring Community. These essentials form our roots, forming community around the study of God’s Word. In a sense, CBS is like the aspen grove – connected to one another and to the Source of life, Jesus Christ. May He transform your life through His Word. And may you and your CBS Class grow together and thrive in Him. Love,
© Jack Brauer
“The study of God’s Word is so important to understanding life’s challenges as well as cultivating a sweet intimacy with the Savior. In the pages of God’s Word we f ind comfor t, guidance, wisdom. And that is why I’m so happy to give my enthusiastic thumbs-up for the excellent work happening in Community Bible Study. “I’ve par ticipated in CBS Classes, and I can tell you that Community Bible Study is a Christ-centered, grace-f illed, in-depth study that goes book by book through the Bible, helping adults, students, and children gain a love for God’s Word.” Joni Eareckson Tada Joni and Friends Ministry CLICK THE VIDEO to hear Joni Eareckson Tada share her love for CBS.
“CBS has been the biggest blessing in my life. At that point in my life I have to admit I was a spiritual train wreck. I was torn between my self ish apathy and my desire to regain my faith. However, CBS f inally brought me around and ignited
a new spark in my faith.” Kalli, Austin, Texas
“Your children’s ministr y teachers have not only taught our children Bible stories and helped them hide God’s Word in their hear ts, but, by their example, they have given them a desire to
tell others about Jesus … we are so grateful.” Melissa, Alabama 3
Aspens are known for their expansive root systems. Each tree draws life from one source. And where there is one aspen, others will soon grow around it. The trees are expansions of the root beneath. In a sense, Community Bible Study resembles the aspens. Different people from different walks of life – adults, children, prisoners, special-needs adults, and students – from different nations and different backgrounds are united through five essentials: Individual Study, Encouraging Discussion, Effective Teaching, Insightful Commentary, and Caring Community. These – our roots – connect us to one another and to God’s Word. CLICK THE VIDEO to learn more about the Five Essentials of CBS.
Transformation happens as individuals engage with God in His Word.
Par ticipants gain additional insights and grow in their confidence with God’s Word as they discuss Bible passages in a safe small-group setting.
Trained teachers highlight and illustrate the central idea of the Bible passage and its practical application in each person’s life.
Respected theologians help par ticipants understand the passage’s historical context and how it relates to the rest of Scripture.
Caring leaders pray for and encourage participants to grow spiritually and to connect with one another in a loving and supportive community. 5
ESSENTIAL #1: INDIVIDUAL STUDY “ Al l S c ri p t u re i s b re at hed out by God and profi t abl e for tea c hing , fo r repro o f, fo r co rre c t i on , an d for t r ai ni ng i n r i ght eous nes s .” 2 Ti m ot hy 3:16 (ESV) God’s Word speaks into every corner of our lives. But in order to know how God calls us to live, we need to study the Scriptures. What does the Bible say? How should we respond? Community Bible Study’s first essential is a call to Individual
Study. To spend time – every day – reading and meditating on the Scriptures. Individual Study requires a commitment. A discipline. A determination to push aside interruptions and dedicate ourselves to God alone. These quiet times transform us and open our hear ts to the truths of God’s Word.
Beth, center, with her mother and daughter
NAP TIME – STUDY TIME How does a busy young mom find time to study God’s Word? Beth Southers joined Community Bible Study out of desperation. The transition from career woman to at-home mom left her isolated and lonely. She describes those difficult days: “We made the decision that I would stay home with the kids. I really struggled with this decision. I wanted to be home with my kids because I thought that was best, but I also wanted a career. And I didn’t know anybody else who was staying home with their kids at the time. I told my mom that I wanted to meet some women who were staying at home. She suggested that I try CBS.” Beth shrugged off the suggestion. Community Bible Study was her mother’s activity, and it seemed to be a time-consuming one at that. Beth was busy caring for a toddler and an infant. She had little time to devote to something that occupied a chunk of her mother’s life. “I could never understand how one person could spend so much time on Bible study!” Beth recalls. But her mother’s gentle persistence soon convinced her to give the Class a try. Beth visited a CBS Class near her home in Atlanta, Georgia, and quickly found the friendships she so desired. She also found something more. “God’s plan for me was to begin devouring His Word.” She began a daily time of Bible study and discovered a passion for God’s Word. “I couldn’t get enough,” Beth says. She also realized that she had more time in her schedule than originally thought. “I couldn’t wait for the kids’ nap time every day so I could do my CBS. I was so eager to study.” 6
Individual Study became an impor tant par t of her daily life. She discovered – much as her mother had – that the in-depth study enriched every par t of her life. Especially her relationships. Beth had always wondered why her mother enjoyed such deep friendships with CBS friends. “Every time I spoke on the phone with her, she talked about her CBS friends and all they were doing. I could never figure out … how her friendships, which she made over the course of just a few years, could be so deep and meaningful.”
“I couldn’t wait for the kids’ nap time ever y day so I could do my CBS.” Beth Southers
Now she knew the secret. And it changed Beth’s relationship with her mother. “CBS was definitely something God used to move our relationship from mother-daughter to friend. We could talk about Jesus together, we could pray together – something we never did until we were both transformed by the study of the Word.” Beth, left, with a fellow CBS participant
CBS SHARES SMILES Smiling faces. Happy chatter. Eager hear ts. Children around the world attend CBS Classes. Some like Chu-Chu (inset) enjoy coloring pages based on the day’s Bible study. Others like Anjali, a young child in India, not only study the lessons, but live out the truths they’ve learned. “I was encouraged by the life of John the Baptist – the zeal he had proclaiming the Word of God to others. I star ted sharing the gospel with my friends in school. I want everybody to be in the kingdom of God.” 7
ESSENTIAL #2: ENCOURAGING DISCUSSION “A n d d ay by d ay, at t end i ng t he t em pl e t oget her and brea king brea d in their ho mes, they re c e i ve d t h e i r food w i t h gl ad and generous hear t s .” Acts 2:46 (ESV) Ever since the bir th of the Church, Christ’s followers have worshipped in community. Whether gathering together in the Upper Room, breaking bread from house to house, or par ticipating in the assembly of believers, community has been a hallmark of the faith. At Community Bible Study, we seek to follow the example of the early Church: meeting together and sharing the truths of God’s Word.
The second of our Five Essentials is “Encouraging Discussion.” We invite par ticipants to share the treasures discovered during their individual studies so all may be encouraged and built up in the faith. Such hear tfelt discussion also serves to knit lives together – creating a community that suppor ts its members in times of trial.
Encouraging Discussion happens in a number of different environments around the world. To the left, participants in Rwanda gather in a nearby field. Above, children sit atop the valleyside to discuss God’s Word.
(Left) Richard’s weekly Core Group holds up an iPad enabled with Skype. (Right) Richard connects with Core Group participants via computer.
THE FELLOWSHIP OF SKYPE Richard Rowe joined CBS in 2009 and has been an active part of his Core Group – asking questions, offering perspectives, and sharing insights on each week’s lesson. And he does it all via Skype. In 2009, Richard’s wife suffered severe health problems, and Richard felt his place was by her side. His decision, however, meant he would be unable to attend the weekly study in person. His group decided to minister to Richard by Skyping him in to each week’s class. He’s able to interact with the group, ask questions, and share what he’s learned in each week’s study. Even though he’s unable to sit beside fellow class members, he has a friend deliver his homemade banana pudding to his Core Group. It’s a way to show his gratitude for the group’s suppor t. “I’m not excluded because of my situation,” he says. “I’m included and I’m so thankful.”
LIKE MOTHER, LIKE DAUGHTERS Psalm 33:11 (ESV) says, “The counsel of the L o r d stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.” Now in our fortieth year, we’re seeing a new generation take up the challenge to study God’s Word and share it with others. Deborah and Astrid with their father and mother
Deborah and Astrid star ted as little girls in a CBSI Bible study in Mexico. Their mother was one of the first CBSI leaders in the country, and their father has been involved in several aspects of the ministry. Today, the girls are following in their parents’ footsteps and continuing the discussion of God’s Word. Deborah and Astrid, now in college, are CBSI leaders on their college campus where they share the Good News with classmates and encourage others to attend their Community Bible Study Core Group. 9
ESSENTIAL #3: EFFECTIVE TEACHING “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hear ts to God.” Colossians 3:15-17 (ESV) Effective teaching is the third essential in the CBS root system. Each week’s teaching “puts the pieces together”
and unites the truths uncovered in Individual Study with a corporate challenge to live out those truths. Kelly Cassels, at home preparing for his Class
MUCH TO LEARN For nearly two decades, Kelly Cassels has taught CBS courses to high school students. But the way this veteran teacher tells it, he’s the one who has become the student. It’s not something you’d expect to hear from a long-time CBS leader. “Being a teaching director is just downright hard.” For seventeen years, Kelly and his wife, Lisa Mae, have been helping teens in Roswell, New Mexico study God’s Word. You’d think that after all that time Kelly would have it all down pat: Scriptures memorized, lessons always at the ready, and a “can’t wait” attitude as he looks forward to each week’s Class. But Cassels refuses to take his experience for granted. “I see how much more I have to learn.” Like many CBS teaching directors, Cassels has discovered an impor tant truth: The more he studies God’s Word, the more he longs to grow in his knowledge of the Scriptures so he can share it with others. “I learned that the best way to reach and teach, in my experience, is letting God teach me.” In order to learn, Kelly Cassels has developed regular study habits. “Each week … I go to my computer, find next week’s Scripture, and print it off.” He then reads the passage and writes down some initial thoughts. Once he has the Scriptures and notes in hand, he spends significant time in prayer. “I pray that God reveals His lesson for me in the questions and answers.” Then it’s time to study: “I like doing my lesson. I like underlining my Bible. I like having to negotiate around the various books … seeing how God wove all those words together to make a symphony of stories and teaching to guide us through our days.” 10
Kelly sees his weekly study time as more than basic lesson preparation. It’s a time to invite God to teach him impor tant life lessons. “I feel one hundred percent cer tain that God wants my talks to be about what He teaches me that week. I like thinking that God is talking to me and teaching me as I work.”
CLICK THE VIDEO to hear Kelly share how being a CBS teacher has changed his life.
Cassels also knows from experience that his weekly studies prepare him to minister to the teens who attend his weekly Class. “In the seventeen years we have been at this, the world has grown far darker, and kids are dealing with issues we never dreamed of. Sometimes, even when I hear of their struggles from their own mouths, I cannot in my mind grasp how they have sur vived.” The weekly Teen CBS Class becomes a refuge for these world-weary high schoolers. “Most kids just feel hopeless,” Cassels says. “They feel like they don’t have a place on the planet. And they’re taught all day at school that they’re a random act of nature. So [they ask] ‘How could there be a plan for me? How could I have any wor th and meaning?’ ” Kelly and his team offer the teens something different. Something they don’t get in their day-to-day world. “They come to Teen CBS for relationship. Real relationships, not fakes.” And it’s in that setting that Cassels knows his time spent in study and prayer is wor thwhile. “Classes that succeed thrive because the leaders pray and ask God for the ability to love the kids He sends them in a supernatural, unconditional way. Our goal is to love, build relationships, and then learn together from the Word of God.”
“They come to Teen Community Bible Study for relationship. Real relationships, not fakes.” Kelly Cassels
And for Kelly Cassels, the love, outreach, and service flow from his devotion to learning God’s Word. “I am not, and will never be, a Bible scholar. God doesn’t need my knowledge. He needs my hear t. I have learned that God can and will use a man once he admits he has much to learn, and keeps admitting this truth every day.”
“Besides being a dad and a husband, it’s been the biggest blessing of my life.” Kelly Cassels
LESSON LEARNED – JUNIO IN PERU CBS teachers spend time each week preparing to teach God’s Word. But what are students learning? Junio, a teen in Trujillo, Peru, says the Bible study changed his relationship with his mother. “Before [CBS] I could not talk to her because we always ended up fighting. Through what I have learned in Genesis, God has shown me to be patient and, above all, humble, and to always obey my mom. We don’t fight anymore; on the contrary, we share our daily experiences and give each other counsel. I thank God for this.”
ESSENTIAL #4: INSIGHTFUL COMMENTARY “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of Truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV) The four th CBS essential is Insightful Commentary. At the hear t of Community Bible Study is our desire to teach God’s Word and provide quality curriculum that digs deep into the Scriptures and offers life-changing lessons. Commentaries are written and prepared by theologians — scholars who study God’s Word and dig deep into its source
THE CBS COMMENTARY Insightful Commentary is the last par t of the study process that you engage in. It presupposes that you have already engaged with God in His Word as you completed your Individual Study of the passage. It assumes that you have made impor tant discoveries as you listened to other class members and the teaching. As the four th piece of the study process, Insightful Commentary is designed to add to, not merely repeat, what you have already received from your study. A well-written Commentary brings light to the cultural and historical contexts of the passage. It explores the nuances and rich meanings of the Hebrew and Greek languages in which the texts were originally written. It helps par ticipants see how the passage connects with other par ts of Scripture. It shows how all the Bible – including the Old Testament – points to Jesus.
“I can somehow, some way, throughout the commentar y relate it back to my life … and that’s comfor ting ! ” CBS Participant
languages to discover the nuances and original meanings. Each commentary is then carefully reviewed to make sure that we are following God’s command to “rightly handle the Word of Truth.” Our goal is to provide only the highest quality commentary so CBS par ticipants can be confident that every lesson will help them learn more about God and draw closer to Him.
CBS Commentaries are distinct in the following ways. • While based on excellent scholarship, CBS Commentaries are not written like seminary textbooks. The writing is engaging and accessible, and the content is thought-provoking to read. • Because CBS is interdenominational, CBS Commentaries do not advance a specific interpretive viewpoint. While staying within the mainstream of historical orthodox Christianity, Commentaries respect different major doctrinal perspectives. • CBS Commentaries are not written to stand alone. They are written and edited specifically with the entire CBS experience in mind. Par ticipants experience many “Aha!” moments when the Commentary brings light to verses they wrestled with on their own and in Core Group. • CBS Commentaries are written for both your head and your hear t. They help you grow in your knowledge of God’s Word through in-depth exploration of the passage. At the same time, they pay keen attention to oppor tunities to apply biblical truth for spiritual transformation.
CBS seeks commentators who are both pastors and scholars. They are experts in the field of theology, but they also seek to shepherd the hearts of CBS participants. It often takes months to discern the person God is calling for this holy task. Commentators are carefully and prayerfully chosen on the basis of several fundamental criteria: their walk with God, high view of Scripture, scholarship, and agreement with the CBS Statement of Faith. After commentators have been identified, they are interviewed and prepared over several months before they start working on a course.
“The Commentar y is like the desser t par t.” CBS Participant
Once a mutual relationship of trust has been established, a commentator is invited to begin writing. A 30-week CBS Commentary usually takes at least one year to write. Once the commentator has completed his part, the editing process begins. The work is checked for theological, historical, and linguistic accuracy. The writing is massaged for clarity and ease of communication. “Think Abouts” are added to provoke thought and invite personal application of timeless biblical principles. Once the editing process is complete, the course is ready to go out to Classes.
CARIBBEAN LUXURY Dictators may close their borders to outsiders, but God is not subject to the restrictions of petty tyrants and national boundaries. In fact, He often does His greatest work when all seems impossible. Such is the case in a restricted Caribbean nation where resources – and hope – are scarce. We tend to take paper for granted. We handle books, repor ts, and memos without once thinking of the paper on which they are printed. Yet for one Caribbean nation, paper is in shor t supply. It is a scarce luxury which few can afford. But leaders in a CBSI Children and Youth training ministry saw paper as a vital necessity for training students. In spite of high costs, the leadership team printed 2,000 copies of the Genesis study for students. The result is that students who received the study are hungry to know even more about the Bible. A great oppor tunity to evangelize this restricted nation awaits – fueled by the faith of CBS leaders who believed that, while paper is costly, God’s Word is priceless. 13
ESSENTIAL #5: CARING COMMUNITY “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 (ESV) Caring Community is the fifth and final essential in the CBS root system. To borrow from the story of the aspen tree, community is the natural outcome of lives firmly rooted in
the source. For the Christian, the Source is Jesus Christ. When we are connected to Him through the study of His Word, we share a love for others.
CAROLINA CATASTROPHE CBS Classes in South Carolina recently demonstrated the power of community. In late 2015, heavy autumn rains caused massive flooding in Columbia, South Carolina. Homes were destroyed. Possessions lost. Families uprooted. But area director Kitty Holladay says Classes from around the state brought hope and help to CBS par ticipants who needed it most. “I remember watching our weatherman warn that the coming rain would be severely heavy, and possibly catastrophic, but not even he realized what was about to unfold,” Kitty says about the heavy flooding that washed away homes in Columbia. “As twenty-plus inches of rain fell, dams began breaking or overflowing in rapid succession. Water rose in lakes, rivers, and creeks, doing most of the damage in about four hours. The hardest-hit areas were in the center of town. The Columbia CBS Class meets in a downtown church.”
© Getty Images/Joe Raedle
Weather forecasters referred to the deluge as a “thousand-year flood.” Such catastrophes are rare but leave long-lasting damage. Families in Columbia were unprepared for such devastation. Holladay talks about CBS par ticipants affected
© Getty Images/Sean Rayford
by the flooding. “The husband of a CBS children’s teacher watched the water rising and, after a few minutes, realized he needed to act as the water reached the top of his front steps. Giving each of his family members a garbage bag, he said, ‘You have ten minutes to put your most precious things into this garbage bag. Now go!’ A neighbor came in his boat to rescue them. They got in with the clothes on their backs, each with a bag in hand.”
Floods may have destroyed homes and businesses in Columbia, South Carolina … but the catastrophe has strengthened connections between CBS communities in the region.
SHOWERS OF BLESSINGS The Columbia community needed time to assess the damage. But families needed help right away. The flooding happened so fast that they were forced to leave everything behind: cars, wardrobes, dishes, furniture, valuables – all of it destroyed by flood waters. Families were forced to star t over. But they weren’t alone. CBS Classes from around the Carolinas stepped in to shower these families in love. “Several days after the flood,” Kitty remembers, “two of my friends who are area directors in Charlotte, Nor th Carolina e-mailed to ask what they could do to help. The teaching director in Orangeburg, South Carolina called to ask the same question. These Classes were ready to come and clean out damaged homes, send money, babysit, or whatever would help the most. Because many of the main roads into and around Columbia remained closed, we decided that notes of encouragement would be welcome. If any desired, they could send gift cards for Lowe’s, Walmar t, etc. But in no way did we emphasize this. In fact, prayer was what was needed most.” “You can imagine my surprise when the Classes in Orangeburg and Lake Wylie, South Carolina and Shelby, Rutherfordton, and Gastonia, Nor th Carolina sent approximately $10,000 wor th of gift cards and many, many beautiful cards of encouragement for the CBS par ticipants who experienced loss. One of our favorite outreaches came from the children in Columbia. They were precious, hear tfelt, and unbelievably insightful.”
Classes sent $10,000 in gift cards to CBS flood victims.
“Most gift bags were delivered by the Core Group leaders, which was not easy considering many Class members had relocated to other par ts of town in temporary housing and some roads were still out. Rain continued for about a week. The fall and winter continued to be wet, but that did not deter the ladies of CBS Columbia from coming alongside their classmates in need and showering them with the love of Jesus – just as they had been learning in their study of Christian living.” Other CBS par ticipants stepped up to help. Holladay tells how Diana, a long-time par ticipant who lives in Columbia, created an outreach to her neighbors: “Diana lives very close to much of the severe destruction but because her street is at a higher elevation than most, she was not affected. She helped organize her neighbors to invite the entire street over for a meal. Not only did they get a good, warm, home-cooked meal, but they had the oppor tunity to socialize, swap stories, and assure one another that they were all right. Diana said it went so well, they did it again for another affected street the following Monday night and again the Monday after that.”
We have witnessed women embracing greater conf idence in our promise-keeping God and His Word during the trials brought on by the f lood. Delaine Blackwell South Carolina Teaching Director
The Columbia CBS Class continues to learn the power of community. And they continue to grow in their faith. As Delaine Blackwell, the local teaching director, repor ts: “The Columbia Class is learning to lean into Jesus. We have embraced one of John’s favorite words in his letters: OVERCOME. The study of God’s Word in the caring and safe environment of CBS has enabled us to continue moving through the process of overcoming one of the most difficult times our city has ever known.”
Encouraging notes from children in CBS Classes
Dear CBS Family,
Let ever y thing that has breath praise the Lord ! Psalm 150 : 6 Please join me in pr aising our God for His mar velous blessings this pas t year.
God Will Provide II Fund Completed $1.5 million raised to support our FISHER development.
Africa Challenge An anonymous foundation and an individual donor pledged matching grants. $230,000 provided to support our CBS expansion projects in Africa.
Your Gifts are providing for global growth.
We are gr ateful for your faithful suppor t, and invite you to join us as we thank God for what He has done â€” and continues to do â€” through CBS . Love, Kimm
Celebrating a Year of Remarkable Growth at CBS. As we look back on the previous year, we’re reminded that such remarkable growth is the result of God’s blessings. We’re honored that you’ve chosen to join us in sharing the truth of God’s Word with CBS participants around the world.
PA RTICIPA NTS
CO UNT R I E S
L A N G UAG E S
global class participants
2016 CBS Finances: Your gift, God’s work.
Leadership Training and development
Next Generation of Children & Young People
Host Church Support
Local Class Operations & Shepherding
FISCAL YEAR 2017 ANNUAL BUDGET: $12.2 MILLION CLICK HERE to learn more about CBS Finances.
And as we look to the future, we’re committed to reaching even more people with the Word of God.
E-MAIL US: Info@CommunityBibleStudy.org FIND OUT MORE: www.CommunityBibleStudy.org FIND YOUR LOCAL CLASS: www.FindMyClass.org PRAY WITH US: www.CommunityBibleStudy.org/Prayer GIVE US A CALL: 1.800.826.4181
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