by Herman Alexander
VIENNA, Austria (BNc) — The International University bills itself as “an American-style school in the heart of Europe.” Since all classes are conducted in English, all students who attend must be proficient in the English language.
The major academic emphasis is upon Business, International Business, and International Diplomacy, with both B.A. and M.A. degrees being offered. (The school has a close association with Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala.) All undergraduate students are required to take four courses in Bible before receiving their degrees.
At the present, I am teaching (Monday-Friday of each week throughout the month of June) a course identified in the curriculum as “Philosophy of Biblical Literature.” This is merely a high-sounding term for a very basic introduction to each book of the Bible.
As we look at the background and central message of each book we are building the basis for an understanding of the overall message of the Bible. When all 66 books have been so introduced, we will then seek to identify the way Jesus Christ and his way of salvation are the key to Scripture (Acts 3:18, 24; 17:3-4).
In order for students to have materials that can be used even beyond the time spent together in class, I have prepared a 150-page syllabus for the course.
This is supplemented by Mike Armour’s book, Newcomer’s Guide to the Bible, which he has graciously made available for each student (a gift that we appreciate so very much).
While to the most of us, this seems quite basic (and familiar), it is the first time for some in the class to be exposed to this concept.
In the class this year there are 23 students from 13 different countries (Albania, Angola, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Hungary, Italy, Kenya, Libya, Nigeria, Serbia, Slovakia, and the U.S.A.). Several of these are Moslems, and this is their first introduction to the Bible. What a wonderful opportunity!
Does this teaching have any effect? Yes! One student here, formerly a Moslem, was baptized recently and is worshipping with the congregation that meets at the school. (The identity of the student and the student’s country is obviously not to be given for the student’s best interest.)
Students can be reached here who could not be reached in their homeland. For example, none of us would be permitted to enter Libya, a strong Muslim country, to share the message of the Bible, but in my class I have two students from that country.
In a recent conversation with one of them, I found that this study is a first-time-ever experience for her. She requested that during the class period I call out page numbers in the Bible (we are all using the same edition of the Bible for study purposes), even before book or chapter or verse, because she has no idea of where to find anything in the Bible.
The teaching here is both a great opportunity and a great challenge. We are to use every opportunity for teaching the Word, trusting in God’s promise:
“My word which goes forth from my mouth will not return to me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).