Nothing beats the feeling of fulfillment in seeing a mathethes (disciple in greek) performing beyond his own expectations.
I have the rare privilege of mentoring a college sophomore son of a very good friend. Part of his subject requirement for his engineering degree are subjects in Religious Education, or Re Ed. Nothing to be alarmed about, except that the setting is a traditional Roman Catholic university, run by priests of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) and the Re Ed teacher is a theology graduate from Princeton University in the US, and is a practicing agnostic.
If you happen to be a nominal Catholic attending that college, and if you didn’t know your scriptures and theology, you’d be fair game for the practicing atheists and agnostics wanting to convince you that there is no God.
However, that was not the case for this particular class, involving my friend’s son.
Previously, we had already begun discussing the objective truths of our faith and for a little over a year, we were regularly working through the various subjects often discussed in this branch of theology that we know and love – Christian apologetics.
Little did we know that it was going to be necessary beginning last June, when he enrolled for his second year in engineering.
During his first class in Re Ed, his teacher began lecturing the class on the environment and surroundings of first century Palestine, when Jesus was growing up. To her surprise, she found that one of her students was very well versed on the subject. ( He should be – I gifted him with a book by Dr. Ben Witherington “What have they done with Jesus?”, and he read and reread through it a lot.)
After a spirited discussion, his teacher decided to exempt him from the class and write book reports on the books which she was going to furnish him with.
His first book was “The Revolutionary Jesus” by John Dominic Crossan.
With that, he called to ask for help – and we went through a few books together, as we reviewed the allegations by JD Crossan in most of his books. True enough, they were practically the same, lame arguments.
And with that, he wrote his reports and showed the drafts to me, and we reworked them to a point where an apologist would find the paper at least, defensible.
He got two perfect scores for those reports.
And another JD Crossan reading assignment.
At least, his teacher was objective enough to recognize that his work was well researched and his arguments were good. (Of course, they were good – I had the works of Mike Licona to back me up! LOL!)
We have a few more reports to do for the rest of the semester, but the remainder of the sem already looks interesting.
Being able to impart the stuff that we read, and eventually get to master is a great thing. But being able to see your mathethes perform well with what you imparted over a period of time is priceless.
I’m not saying that we should undertake as many of these as soon as possible.
I’ve fallen flat on my face offering my time to people, inviting them to learn these subjects, only to get a polite smile and a promise to consider my offer. Beyond coffee, we never got to even discuss what Christian apologetics is and why it’s necessary.
Until we got to vacation with my friend, his family and my mathethes (not yet, at that time) and my own family – and there, I learned of his interest in my favorite subject. And it was enriching for both of us from there on.
Sometimes, in our quest to gather as many students to attend an apologetics discussion group, we miss out on the enriching experience of mentoring a mathethes. Little do we realize that equipping one very interested follower of the Lord Jesus produces such explosive results. Now, his classmates are asking him questions. (Good thing he’s got answers!)
Making mathethes out of many ethnos doesn’t necessarily mean sending out missionaries to other peoples with different cultures. It literally just means “learning in order to be able to teach” many people of many nations. And that can mean any person within reach of a phone or an email for as long as the interest is there, and you can provide the reading matter and the reasons for the answers. And it can be just one, very interested kid in college instead of a whole group that we look to teach inside a coffee shop one evening a week.
Rethink or renew your minds on this matter. It’s very enriching and rewarding. And it brings pleasure to our King.