The Time I Dreaded Bible Study

It’s the only time in my life when I dreaded Bible study. Party because it was first thing in the morning and made our 10-hour ministry day an 11-hour ministry day. But moreso because the boys were rude, disrespectful, and inattentive.

The rescued street boys that were our ministry focus in Bolivia had limited experiences with the Christian faith. Some of them were believers but most of them had hardened hearts.

Pre-breakfast Bible study was clearly not the highlight of their day. Even trying to liven it up with discussion questions or games were futile.

They spent the hour muttering under their breath at and about us, mocking our imperfect but still good Spanish, or refusing to open their Bibles and notebooks.

So when we proposed an affirmation activity for the group, we had low expectations. We invited the boys’ educators to set an example and go first and then talked about bribing the boys with popcorn to get them to participate.


The popcorn—though delicious—wasn’t necessary. The educator asked them to come in from playing softball in the yard to do an activity. We explained it and handed out markers, holding our breath for the recoil of teenage boy drama.

To our surprise, there was none.

They patiently waiting their turn for the markers, wrote affirming notes for each of their brothers and educators, and participated without a squabble.

I almost cried. Literally welled up watching these hard teenage boys write good things about one another.

If they can do it, why can’t we?

Why can’t we affirm one another in everyday life?

Why must we protest when it comes to telling someone he’s neat?

Because it’s hard. It’s hard to admit we admire something about someone else. It’s hard to tell him his character is beautiful. It’s hard because it’s awkward.

It’s awkward because the recipient often brushes off the compliment saying she’s really not that’ pretty, it’s just a good hair day. Saying everyone would have bent over backwards for you in that situation.

Yet we know the truth.

And as believers we’re called to speak it out. We’re called to bring the kingdom. We’re called to speak life. To encourage one another and build each other up.

This week I want you to join me in a challenge:

Every day I want you to look someone in the eye and say well done—not just for a performance or moment when they know it’s coming but in a mundane, everyday moment. An ordinary moment with a great appreciation.

Thank you for this meal. God’s given you a great gift of cooking.

You blessed me when you texted just to say you were thinking of me. You’re so caring.

I appreciate you.

That’s one genuine pat on the back every day.

Where are you going to start?

  • Dennis

    A beautiful message

  • I love this! Words of affirmation are so important. Great post. 🙂