The aim of this bulletin is to keep you up to date with the International Bible Teaching ministry through a report you can read in 2-3 minutes.
30 October 2014

Hello from atop smoking volcano Vesuvius, and the 2014 Biblical Study Tour (BST)! We're here in Italy sharing a true adventure, exploring the world of the ancient Roman Empire, which forms the backdrop of the New Testament. Atop this mountain we're gazing into the crater of death. In the massive eruption of 79 AD Pompeii and other towns were frozen in time -- affording the best glimpse of daily life anywhere in the Roman world!

Well, to be truthful, the paragraph you just read was how the newsletter was supposed to begin. You have to admit, it would have been cool to broadcast from the caldera of Vesuvius, where I led our group last week. But there were so many other cool things happening on the tour that I didn't get to send it out before we got home. So not only did I not send it from Vesuvius; it isn't 30 October, either. It's 6 November, and I'm sitting at the comparatively uninspiring elevation of 1129' (344m) above sea level. No sulfurous fumes, no lava, no ginormous crater. Not today, anyway.

Rome, Pompeii, Herculaneum

The Rome BST drew together Colombians, Germans, Nicaraguans, Britons, and Americans. The goal: to bring to life the world of the Bible. Nearly every event in the Bible transpires in the vicinity of the Mediterranean -- in what would become the modern countries of Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Macedonia, Malta, Syria, and Turkey. Certainly the scriptures are thrown into high relief when they are preached with depth and conviction. Yet they come alive in an entirely new way when Bible readers walk in the very locations in which the story is set. 

Rome is an amazing city, and the ultimate destination of the apostle Paul's itinerant ministry (and ours: on the Sunday of our tour, I couldn't resist preaching from Acts 28:28).
Pompeii and Herculaneum are two of the three cities buried by the great volcano. In the case of Pompeii, a prosperous Roman city, it was burial by ash and pumice. In the case of Herculaneum, an exclusive seaside resort, burial came by lava and mud. The carbonized casts of corpses (Pompeii) and the skeletons of those who found the sea offered no escape route (Herculaneum) testify to the violence and rapidity of the eruption of 79. A side note: By this time there were certainly Christians in these towns, and among the dead.

The significance of these cities is hardly their destruction -- though this is interesting enough. It is the near-perfect preservation of their homes, streets, temples, brothels, baths, theaters, entertainment, work, art, technology, culture -- just about everything! Thanks to Vesuvius, scholars understand daily life in the pagan Rome Empire. And we are able to appreciate the setting, and in some sense the "competition," of early Christianity

It was the combination of Rome and Vesuvius (an her victims) that made this trip so visually powerful: not just monuments of the Roman past, but the fossilized lifestyle--and lives--of ancient Romans.

Vicki & Douglas in front of the crater of Vesuvius

Once you've visited Rome, or Jerusalem, or Ephesus, you never read the Scriptures the same way again. You learn to ask new questions, empathize with ancient believers, and read the Bible more holistically. For those who can manage such a trip, it's great for your faith!

Vicki & Douglas, Mt. Vesuvius

Canada and Coastal Carolina

October wasn't only a month for visiting the Colosseum and creeping through the Catacombs. It was also a time for us to visit family in coastal North Carolina -- and preach for our sister church in Wilmington (at UNC-W). 

In mid-month I flew up to Halifax, to share some out-of-the-box ideas with Eastern Canadian leaders. In Nova Scotia I also presented on Science & Faith: Enemies or Allies? This is one of my favorite topics, and especially when the event is well attended and the hearts of seekers are moved!

We deeply appreciate our working relationship with the Canadians.
Upcoming: South America
During November we have two trips scheduled for South America. On the first (next week), I'm heading to Colombia solo. Later in the month, my wife will join me on the second trip (Brazil, Argentina, Chile).

As usual, there is the normal pace of classes and sermons and biblical training courses here in Atlanta. I'm still plugging away at the Exodus book. (Title suggestions welcome. In fact, if we select yours, we'll send you 10 copies of the new book!) And I'm forever trying to keep current with correspondence (thanks for your patience). 

Please remember the international Bible teaching ministry in prayer. And special thanks to those who have donated to make the Latin American trips possible. We wish you a great November.

Yours in Him,
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