Two prominent members of the board of Global Learning Initiative, Dr Jonas A Jørgensen, general secretary of Danish Mission Council, and Dr Henrik Sonne Petersen, independent scholar and mission thinker have since October 2018 worked on a major application for funding. They have done a very professional work on what is described as follows in the executive summary (January 1, 2019).
In our vision of biblical theology, in which academic, spiritual and pastoral aspects are closely interwoven, interaction with the Holy Scripture is essential, since it both nurtures the congregations and provides motivation for social, diaconal engagement. The Bible Online Learner program is an important part of such an interaction, as it helps students learn biblical languages better and more efficiently. Initial experiences with Bible Online Learner in North American and European contexts have shown that it holds great potential, but that it also needs significant adaptation to fit contexts outside of North America and Europe, more specifically in East Africa and India. The expected outcome is that teachers and students in the Global South are equipped to better master biblical languages, learning is enhanced, and that theological education is seen from an integrated academic, pastoral and spiritual perspective.
There is a crisis in traditional theological education in the Global South. The traditional way of offering theological education as a residential, multi-year program is, in many contexts, simply too expensive and too resource-demanding. High quality theological education, including learning of biblical languages, is however fundamental to biblical theology and sustainable local Christian churches. This means that, in many seminaries, it is a conundrum as to how to provide high quality education for all potential students without highly qualified local instructors and at a cost that churches and students can afford.
Provision of sound theological training for future pastors and leaders is urgently needed in this situation. Churches in the Global South are continuing to experience growth and congregations are asking for qualified pastors and leaders. If we want to ensure the presence of biblical theology among churches in the Global South in the future, we therefore need to discover new ways of accommodating the need for theological education and learning of biblical languages.
Bible Online Learner
We suggest that a key element in the solution to the problem and addressing the need is the Bible Online Learner. This digital learning platform offers a full online learning environment for Hebrew and Greek, and contains tools to evaluate and provide certificates of biblical language skills (see more and try out the application at https://bibleol.3bmoodle.dk/). The Bible OL supports both blended-learning, but can also be used for online learning. It motivates students and anhanches learning. The project introduces the Bible Online Learner as a stand-alone server system that allows up to 25 students in each partnering institution to access a local, solar-powered, wireless server with laptops or mobile devices. The server takes up very little physical space, setup is plug-and-play, and maintenance of the server is minimal, through tethering with a mobile phone for regular software updates. By equipping 120 future pastors with biblical language skills, we would be able to reach 10,000 future churchgoers who, week after week, will benefit from their pastors’ solid biblical theology.
For the five identified partner institutions in East Africa and India to join the Bible Online Learner project, we urgently need USD 250,000 over the next three years. These funds will enable 120 students to learn biblical languages over the next three years and – even more importantly – the project will demonstrate a workable solution that can be upscaled to the benefit of thousands of future theological students and congregations in need of high quality, sustainable theological education.
Two month more
Unfortunately the fundraisers and contacts have had no success so far. Henrik Sonne Petersen writes on July 1, 2019:
Now the Bible Online Learning project has been alive for half a year, and three months ago, March 25, you received an update on the initiation of the fundraising process. Since then fundraisers have been working with donors, but unfortunately, we have not succeeded so far. Neither donors from the US, nor from Denmark have replied positively. Recently, another fundraiser has volunteered to write more applications, and we are waiting for the responses.
Today, even more than half a year ago, there are reasons for high hopes for the project, since the server solution has been tested with success in the field, and it is indicated from various sides that an online solution for language learning is part of the future field of theological training.
But, as we realize that time is dragging on - peoples are changing jobs, new projects are introduced - we have decided to establish a deadline by the end of August. If we have not received positive fundraising-news by then we intend to cancel the project, allowing others to carry the project on, or launching similar ideas.
Should you be interested in sharing information on this important project, do not hesitate to ask for a full version of the application. Contact me by MAIL