Drive south through Rosarito, stay on the highway for another fifteen or so minutes, and then drive up and up and up into the desert hills of the Baja Peninsula. You may not be able to see the road well, as not much distinguishes the road from the side of the road, except for the odd house, pile of garbage, or cliff. After 20 minutes of climbing the dusty roads, you’ll come to The Ranch, a rehabilitation centre for men who are recovering from drug addictions. Some of these men have only been there for a matter of days – one gentleman I met was on day fifteen as of Tuesday. Many of these men are new believers. As they detox, they spend a good portion of their days reading the Bible. For the last three weeks, the Titus Project has been visiting the men at The Ranch on Tuesdays, teaching from 7pm until 8pm. The first week Paula taught on Identity in Christ. The second week Vivi taught on replacing lies with the Truth of God’s Word. This week was my (Helen’s) turn. The men are hungry for the Word of God – they want to know how to study it, and how they can see transformation in their lives. Over the next several weeks the Titus Project team will be teaching them to use the Inductive Bible Study method through the book of Philemon. This letter is only 25 verses long – only one page in your Bible – but it is incredibly impactful, and I can’t wait to hear the stories of what these men get out Philemon as they apply its message to their lives.
At The Ranch, I had the opportunity to teach the Inductive Method Overview, which starts with showing people the need to study the Word. Only 10% of Christians around the world have read through the entire Bible. That statistic shocked the men at The Ranch, many of whom think that they are not “spiritual enough” because they think that all “good Christians” have read through the Bible. I invited them to commit to reading through the entire Bible, joining that 10% – maybe even increasing that percentage to 11%! I explained how the Bible has impacted my life, how after recovering from an eating disorder, I had the opportunity to study the Word of God, from beginning to end, and how God used that time to replace the lies of the enemy in my life, with words of Truth – the Truth about who He is, and who I am in Him. After sharing with them about the impact of the Word of God in my life, we read from 2 Timothy 3:16-17, showing them that the Bible isn’t only profitable in my life, but in the lives of all people. I took them through the steps of Observation, Historical Background, Interpretation, and Application, showing them an overview of how to study the Word in context, before applying it to our own lives, so that we can be rooted in the author’s original intent for the text. At the end of the evening, the men clapped and then rushed to the front of the room, wanting to take mental pictures of illustrations I had used – some even copying them down from the board in their notebooks.
After the time of teaching, we – my translator, evaluator, fellow Titus participant, and I – joined the men for their evening snack of “porridge” and bread. The porridge was soupy, like sweet milky water with the occasional oat in the mix. I sat with five men, one named Jesús. They shared with me their names, asked questions about what they would be learning next, wanting to know if I would be back next week. I told them that I’d be in Ensenada, but that someone else from our teaching team would be back to teach them the step of Observation through the book of Philemon. They asked me repeatedly to come back. After talking with them for about twenty minutes, one man, who spoke fairly fluent English said, “Helen, would you do me a favour?” I nervously said, “Yes.” I didn’t want to commit to something I couldn’t follow through on. He went on, “Whenever you think of me, would you pray for me?” The man sitting on the other side of me piped up, “Me too!” I told them I would pray for them, and they told me they would always be praying for me.
Teaching at The Ranch is quite possibly my favourite time on Titus so far. These men were hungry for the Word of God – eager to replace the lies in their lives with the Truth. I had heard such amazing things about this group of men from the people who had taught at The Ranch before, but I didn’t know what to expect from a group of recovering drug addicts. Despite any doubts I might have had, in them I found the most interested, engaged audience I have ever had the privilege of teaching.