There is a picture of Dad Kunz teaching the After Breakfast Bible Study in Ole Hardwood about 1935. This was his pattern for the 23 years he was Deerfoot’s Director. Day in and day out, in good weather and bad weather, the campers and staff were taught the historic truths of God’s word, while also being able to watch Dad Kunz live out the truths of what he taught. Almost every waking moment, Dad Kunz was being observed by someone. I wish I had a recording of his studies, a DVD of his life at DL!
The understanding of the Christian faith and life is greatly enhanced with an understanding of the Old Testament. Jesus and the writers of the New Testament were primarily talking and writing to Jewish people who had studied the Old Testament at home and in the Synagogue. Families celebrated the Passover together – Jewish history was fabric in their lives. In Hebrews 11: we can see how much knowledge of the Old Testament was assumed. Here we read the names of Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rehab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel. To the Jewish people, every name reminded them of a biblical account of something that was in Jewish history.
To many DL campers, these names had no Biblical events connected to them. The After Breakfast Bible Study was a way to provide knowledge of the stories of these people – and focus on the significance of what they experienced. The challenge of doing this was real: those in the dining hall were from 8 to perhaps 24 years old. Some had very little knowledge of the Bible – others knew the Bible well.
Before my first summer began, I asked several staff members to share the teaching responsibility with me. As the summer progressed, I was pleased with how things were working out. Therefore I was completely caught off guard when the DL Board said I was to teach all of the After Breakfast Bible Studies, just as Dad Kunz had done. To teach forty four times each summer…. the prospect really frightened me. But, I had no choice.
The DL Board was of tremendously helpful in the preparation of these studies. They helped me sharpen my teaching methods and paid for me to go somewhere for 12 days to focus on developing the outlines and basic material.
It has been interesting to look back through those 1012 studies. Each summer had one theme illustrated through the lives of four men – one per session. In 1984 the theme was “Men of God – Willing to Stand Alone for God”: Noah, Abraham, Daniel, and Gideon. At the end of Session IV, everyone had 11 brief lessons to provide a basic understanding of Gideon’s story – and to encourage each camper and staff to be willing to stand alone for God, just as Gideon had done. The staff heard the same theme illustrated through the lives of four men.
Hopefully the campers and staff gained as much from these studies as I did. If so…they learned a lot! There were many campers who became staff members and heard After Breakfast Bible Studies for ten or more summers. I was continually encouraged with how campers and staff wanted to learn about, and to learn from, the great men of the Bible. Their interest is reflected in the results of the camper questionnaires. The After Breakfast Bible Studies almost always received a higher rating than any instructional area.
I encourage you to look for opportunities to introduce people to the content of God’s word. Presently I am working with a 75 year old man who had never read the Bible. He did not know how Book, Chapter, and Verse worked – i.e. John 3:16 – the reference meant nothing to him. After reading several books of the Bible he said to me “Chuck, if had died before reading all this, I would really have missed something!” He said another day…”Chuck, Matthew really hits hard!” Let’s give the people that God created the opportunity to learn of His love, demonstrated through the history of His people.
When we live In Partnership With God, we can say with the Apostle Paul “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” — Romans 1:16