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Representing the first English-language study Bible written by African scholars for an African context, this Bible was developed by Oasis International, in partnership with Tyndale House Publishers and Urban Ministries, Inc.
(From left to right): Dr. Paul Nyquist (president of Moody Bible Institute), John Jusu (supervising editor), Matthew Elliott (Oasis International president), Ed Elliott (Oasis International founder)
“This is a very significant event in the history of the Church, and more specifically, a key milestone in the maturation of the African Church,” said Moody’s president, Dr. Paul Nyquist, who spoke during a celebratory dinner with leaders. “Moody is thrilled to be involved in this launch, using our voice and our influence to let the Church in the United States know about this new study Bible.”
The Africa Study Bible uses a British English version of Tyndale’s New Living Translation and includes more than 2,600 notes contributed by 350 pastors and scholars from 54 countries.
Planning for the Moody event began last year after Ed Elliott, Moody’s 2012 Alumnus of the Year and the founder of Oasis International, contacted Moody Radio to get the word out about the new Africa Study Bible. Moody leaders went a step further, holding a strategy meeting in November 2016 to collaborate with representatives from Oasis International and Tyndale House Publishers, the Bible’s U.S. distributor.
Christian recording artist Aaron Shust led worship during the conference events.
Their collaboration resulted in Moody hosting a two-day celebration that included a dinner, chapel, special music with Aaron Shust and Moody student Ayanda Khumalo, and an African Voices Conference featuring five of the African scholars who had contributed notes and articles to the Africa Study Bible.
Drs. Michael Glerup, Abel Ndjerareou, Priscilla Adoyo, John Jusu and Tite Tienou not only shared their insights with audiences on Moody Radio but also taught Moody Bible Institute students and faculty in about 30 classes on Moody’s Chicago campus following the unveiling during a student chapel on April 12. Topics included disciple-making, theology, the role of western missionaries, and counseling—all in an African context.
In addition, Urban Ministries dedicated the Bible on April 10, at the DuSable Museum of African-American History on Chicago’s South Side.
The English edition of the Africa Study Bible was introduced first in Kenya and Ghana and will soon be dedicated in South Africa, Nigeria and other countries. Plans are in the works to translate the Africa Study Bible into French and Portuguese in the next five years.
Supervising editor John Jusu shared his testimony in chapel and encouraged Moody students to hold fast to their calling.
“What makes this Bible unique? It is scratching where the African is itching spiritually,” said Dr. John Jusu, a professor at African International University in Sierra Leone and supervising editor of the Africa Study Bible. “It is addressing our own issues to the extent that when you come to that text, it speaks to you in a language that you can understand and it speaks to you on your own issues as we struggle with them in Africa.”
In a Moody Bible Institute class called “Answering Worldview Questions from a Faith & Learning Perspective,” Dr. Jusu described how he abandoned his Christian beliefs and became a revolutionary after his mission school denied him a promised U.S. college scholarship because his father was poor. “I decided God was unjust. I hated the church and missionaries,” he recalled. Later, circumstances caused him to turn to Christ, and he earned a PhD in Education from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. That eventually dovetailed into his work on the Africa Study Bible. He and his wife now provide for 16 widows and 39 children who lost loved ones during the recent Ebola epidemic.
While most Bible resources come from a Western perspective, the Africa Study Bible was created to reflect the knowledge, culture and wisdom of Africa for the world. It also helps remedy the lack of contextualized materials for discipling African believers. Study notes include uniquely African issues such as rainmakers (1 Kings 17), the use of magic (Isaiah 47:9-14) and slavery (Philemon 1:20).
Dr. Tim Sisk, a professor of Intercultural Studies at Moody Bible Institute, says, “This will give the American church an insight as to how our brothers and sisters in Africa are reading and understanding the Scriptures. Sometimes their culture is a lot closer to the biblical culture than ours is.”
He is enthusiastic about introducing students to the Africa Study Bible as a resource they can use in ministry. “We’re always looking for ways to partner with the global church. We’re about taking the gospel but also taking tools and advancing the cause of Christ and helping the church of Jesus Christ around the globe.”
Gladys Mwiti, a clinical psychologist in Kenya and part of the founding committee for the study Bible, was excited that the launch took place at Moody. “I’ve sensed a receptivity from the Moody community, not only of the project but the whole idea of the Africa Study Bible,” she said after speaking on Moody Radio’s morning show in Chicago. “Moody to me represents the center of balanced, missional, Christ-centered Christianity in America. I look at Moody as knowing what the faith is all about and turning out workers globally.”
The study Bible’s notes make connections to African rural life and family structure. “Think about this,” Ed Elliott explained. “The people who wrote the notes for this grew up herding cattle, grew up without electricity, grew up with outdoor toilets, grew up with a dad who could well have been polygamous; they grew up in a culture very much like biblical culture. They have so much to share that you and I can’t really understand the way they do.”
Ed Elliott’s son, Matthew, president of Oasis International, added, “If there’s one thing we Westerners can learn from African Christians, it’s their bedrock belief in God and that He powerfully moves today in our world. May this Bible greatly benefit the Church in my country, the US, and throughout Africa.”
For more information about Oasis International and the Africa Study Bible, please visit www.oasisint.net.