CCW began “The Muller Center for Biblical Studies” in the fall of 2010 with its first six students. The goal was to read the Bible seriously and let the Spirit work to teach and train in Bible literacy. The students and tutors (Jim Elliff and Steve Burchett) read the first five books of the Bible every two weeks and Matthew every week (132 chapters/week). This meant approximately 20 hours a week for reading, marking, and discovery of biblical insights. The only other resource used was a book of maps. The culmination of the studies was a two week trip to Israel together. The trip demanded 50 hours of map work to prepare for the study tour in the land where Jesus walked. The students studied for no cost, but were required to pay for their trip expenses.
We just returned from Israel with much thankfulness for a trip that exceeded our expectations. Our first six students were joined by the two tutors and four other adults, including one CCW board member (Dr. Brent Evers). Our trip was conducted by Jerusalem University College (www.JUC.edu). Dr. Jack (John A.) Beck instructed us both in the classroom and on the road. The trip included lots of hikes to study the historical setting, culture, and key biblical passages. For instance, we walked the Judean hills into the Sorek Valley, wandered over the Judean wilderness, searched out the various cities below us in the Jezreel Valley, floated in the Dead Sea, and swam in the Sea of Galilee across the water from Tiberias. We tried to experience the roads and hillsides as the biblical characters did. We’ll never be the same.
Those visiting Israel for the first time were surprised to learn that the country is small (about the size of Maryland), but quite diverse in its terrain and temperatures. In a single day we might go from wearing three or four layers and a hood to short-sleeve shirts, hats, and plenty of sunscreen. One of the highlights was the day we traveled to the Dead Sea area. We were told it would almost certainly be warm, perhaps in the 90s, but the temperature stayed below 70 the whole day. Furthermore, it rained hard while we swam in the Dead Sea, which is quite unusual since that area only experiences one inch of rain per year! Our instructor, who has been leading this study tour for 14 years, said he never saw anything like it.
We wanted a quiet beginning to The Muller Center just to see what God would do without drawing too much attention to it. Looking back, God was pleased to make it all a life-changing year for both students and tutors. If all goes well, we will continue the Muller Center next year, with an emphasis on the historical books of the Old Testament and the book of Acts. We anticipate a journey to Greece and Turkey at the end of our year’s work. Please pray for CCW as we develop this strategic ministry.