This is Jim. Many years of prayer were answered when he was invited to listen to BEMA for the first time in August 2013.
When he was young, around the age of nine, he and his mom would often make sandwiches around the kitchen table for lunch in the summertime. For him, it was a little slice of heaven—time with mom. While making lunch, he would often talk about Bible stories. Many times he would hear his mom say, “I wonder what ‘they’ know about the Bible?” He never realized who “they” were until he was much older. She was referring to the Jewish people. In his mom’s world, the access to “know” was almost nonexistent. But she was different than most of her generation; she loved the Jewish people and wanted to know more. And like his mom often did when she was searching for answers, she began to pray, and pray she did. Sadly she “went to glory” on May 5, 2001, and she never found what “they” knew. But looking back, his mom prayed, and those prayers are being answered today through the likes of BEMA Discipleship.
Leading up to 2013, Jim had been told by educated men that we are New Testament Christians and Old Testament stories aren’t as important as the New Testament. His internal struggle was reeling; he wanted to know what “they” knew. But no one wanted to talk about the Jewish people and what they knew about the Hebrew Scriptures because “we have Jesus now.”
In February 2013, Jim heard Marty preach for the first time on a podcast. He emailed Marty with a question, and Marty responded to him. Soon a relationship was forming; then Marty asked him to listen to a class he was teaching (BEMA), mostly with students from the University of Idaho and Washington State University. Marty also invited him to join them on a trip to Israel and Turkey for 21 days in the summer of 2014. (And Jim did!) Since then, his life has never been the same; he now knows first hand and has experienced for himself a taste of what “they” know. (Side note: Jim says, “You who are reading this need to go on one of these trips with Marty. I have now been twice, and each one is different and amazing.”)
But for Jim, many more questions would arise, and with much grace Marty would help navigate those questions and thoughts through emails, but that was with several states between them. Jim realized he had no community to discuss BEMA with, to wrestle with in person. He began to invite friends to join him in listening to BEMA, but none of them took him up on it. In a deflated moment of desiring community, God spoke to him. God put this thought into his heart; “What would Mom do, Jim?” Jim said, “Pray.” It was a light bulb moment for Jim, so he began to pray and ask God for just one. “Just ONE, Lord!” After many discussions with friends, God led him to a guy who had the same desires. After years of prayer, God answered and blessed him with one. Together they launched BEMA Irvine in January 2017, outside of a local coffee shop. They haven’t stopped meeting since. This past month he started a second group of like-minded people desiring to know God. They are beginning to walk together using BEMA Discipleship as their guide for discussion.
Looking back, remembering his past, Jim believes that sitting around a kitchen table long ago, prayer began to build up in a woman’s heart (his mom); then many years later, because a man (Marty) decided to become different than most of us, to take up his family mantle and wear tassels, and to reach out to a people group looking for the meaning of life, Jim’s life was changed. Marty is now inviting us to join him in this journey, discovering buried treasure in the Text and sharing it with others from an eastern perspective through BEMA Discipleship. And with the help of Mr. Brent Billings doing his part as co-host and master of tech, Marty has put BEMA out there for all of us. BEMA is now reaching those like Jim’s mom, like Jim, and like so many others who want to know what “they” know. Jim believes Adonai (the LORD our God) has a plan for us that is unfolding, expanding, and developing as we walk the path each day with Him (Jeremiah 6:16).
Jim is also in awe and wonder, thinking of the book Deuteronomy and its call to remember. He can now see how Adonai used a woman over 50 years ago. As she was tilling her soil, God created a man with a longing to teach, and now we get to enjoy the fruit of that labor. But brothers and sisters, it is not over yet—the journey is just beginning. It is beginning with God looking for partners and places like BEMA Discipleship to discover and uncover the richness of His love for each of us, and all of humanity. It reminds Jim of Genesis 22:18 and the promise to bless all nations.