JOSHUA’S BIBLE READING GROUP QUESTIONS
The following list of questions is designed to enhance a group or individual’s thinking about or discussing some of the issues we hope you will consider after reading Joshua’s Bible by Shelly Leanne. This is designed as a starting point only and is not meant to limit the discussion.
Joshua faced a choice about the direction his ministry should take. Both were good and worthwhile options. But Joshua chose the path that required him to leave his comfort zone. When faced with such choices, how can we determine the path that God would have us to choose? Read Deuteronomy 14:24-25; Luke 9:59-62. Why does God often call us to leave our comfort zone in order to follow Him in ministry? Read Genesis 12:1; Hebrews 11:8
Although his loved ones were not overjoyed about Joshua’s sojourn to Africa, everyone around him knew that Joshua had a special calling on his life. When you know that God’s hand is on someone, how can you support that person in his or her calling? Read 1 Samuel 3:1-10. How can you prepare yourself for your own calling? Read Job 5:8; 2 Timothy 2:15.
Joshua was concerned that his loved ones had strong reservations about his trip to Africa. How can we handle our loved ones trying to dissuade us, whether unconsciously or overtly, from fulfilling God’s call on our life? Read Mark 8:31-33.
The long voyage to African gave Joshua time to consider the things that God was doing in his life. What value can we gain from the times of waiting, anticipation, reflection and introspection at various points in our spiritual journey? Read Luke 2:18-19; 5:15-16.
Joshua had a number of people in his corner supporting what was for them an innovative approach to foreign missions, but he found Andrew’s advice about carrying his papers at all times to be humiliating. But Joshua was determined to reach the goals he had set by going to Africa. How can we use humbling or less than desirable circumstances to strengthen us in ministry? Read Judges 16:20-31; 2 Corinthians 12:10; James 1:1-3.
Many people, especially the whites who helped to sponsor Joshua’s ministry, held high expectations for him. How can we stay focused on God’s will and God’s expectations for our lives and not the expectations of other human beings? Read Nehemiah 4:6-9.
In a sense, Joshua’s assignment was to revitalize a “dry bones” ministry, and he faced a fair amount of negativity regarding his ability to do so. How can you work and stay focused on the task God has given you, even when you are bombarded with naysayers and negative thinkers? Read Nehemiah 6:1-14.
Far away from home, Joshua expanded his horizons and was willing to engage himself in the culture of the people he was called to serve. How can a ministry be hindered by prejudices? Read Acts 10:1-35. How can a ministry be blessed by a spirit that is open to the ways of people who are different from you? Read Acts 8:26-40.
Joshua received, and openly embraced the blessings of the elders. He listened to the reflections of the people regarding what they needed. Why is it important for a leader to heed the words of those whom he or she is called to lead? Read 1 Kings 12:1-16.
Joshua had to meet the hopes and aims of the young students with a touch of realism. Why was it important for Joshua not to participate in the protest or to automatically take the “side” of the students? How can we gain the trust of others without being forced into “taking sides”? How can a ministry benefit from having a variety of personality types, involved, from rebellious, to challenging, to compliant? Read Matthew 10:2-4; Luke 9:46; John 18:10.
Joshua’s invitation to Tahira would fulfill needs that they both had. How can we know when God has brought people together for ministry and for their mutual benefit? Read Acts 18:1-3.
As time moved, Joshua shared more about himself and learned more about those around him, like Nongolesi and Old Man. What evidences were there that he was slowly gaining acceptance among the people, although he did not become a part of the protests? Read Luke 2:52. How can leaders gain acceptance and respect without complying with every expectation of the people? Read 1 Samuel 18:16; 1 Kings 3:28.
Joshua’s new life in Africa cost him his relationship with Shantal. Might this mean that marriage to her was never meant to be? How can you trust God to meet your every need as you go about serving Him? Read Philippians 4:19.
As he talked with natives, Joshua learned more about their bitterness, their hurt, and their concerns. How can Christians minister to persons who are hurting because of injustices committed against them, even when we have been victimized ourselves? Read Matthew 9:36; 14:14; Luke 10:25-37.
The young men on the truck were on their way to engage in a very important rite of passage into manhood. How can rites of passage serve as tools of faith development for African American Christian males? Read Genesis 17:10-14.
Sarah forced Joshua to examine his own hidden prejudices. As a Christian, how should you respond when you are confronted with unpleasant truths about ourselves? Read Numbers 22:30-32; 2 Samuel 12:1-13.
Unlike many women, Nongolesi showed little interest in marriage. Why did her nonchalance make her so intriguing to Joshua? Read Song of Solomon 4:9; 5:9.
Joshua struggled to keep his faith and mission separate from the political issues that surrounded him. It became increasingly more difficult for him to remain the same naïve young man who stepped off the boat. How does his willingness to become involved with the issues that affected the natives indicate spiritual growth? Why do you think that coming to a point of willingness to be involved was a gradual process for Joshua? Read Matthew 14:3-4; 22:21.
The Brother’s observations about spreading the gospel in Africa enlightened Joshua and challenged his thinking about traditional Eurocentric beliefs about Christianity. Consider whether Eurocentric culture and values have influenced your Christian beliefs. How does God use culture to enhance knowledge of and to spread the gospel? Read Judges 8:24-27; Luke 2:42; Acts 10:27-35; Romans 3:30-4:5
Joshua found comfort in the celebration activity of the people and began to struggle with his own understanding of culture and faith. How can cultural expressions and celebrations serve to enhance spiritual experiences? Read Esther 9:17-19.
All that Joshua had experienced in Africa ignited a revolution in his thinking and his beliefs. When God exposes us so that we may expand our thinking and our beliefs, how can we respond in faith to these changes? Read Judges 2:7; 6:22-29; Matthew 9:8; Acts 2:43-47
On more than one occasion and by more than one person, Joshua was questioned about his intentions toward Nongolesi. Initially he denied any romantic interest in her; yet his actions—in the eyes of the people—seemed otherwise. Why is it important to pay attention to how your actions are perceived for the sake of your Christian witness? What might have happened if Joshua had failed to heed the courting traditions of the people? Read Genesis 29:22-30.
Joshua was struck had by the casual way the two African men discussed prostitution with him. How can Christians relate to people whose values are so different from their own without appearing judgmental? Read John 4:5-29.
In what ways did Joshua demonstrate his sincere desire to have Nongolesi as his wife? Do you feel that marriages today would be better served if men were required to provide tangible evidence of their desire to marry a certain woman? Read Genesis 29:9-10, 18, 20.
Troubled by Nongolesi’s reaction to the song, Joshua found comfort in reading a passage from Jeremiah about seeking God. What evidence did Joshua and Nongolesi give to demonstrate that they had sought the wisdom of God regarding their marriage? Read Jeremiah 29:11-13; James 1:4-6.
Although he felt uneasy about it, Joshua agreed to the terms of the mission officials in order to continue his ministry in Africa. Why are such compromises sometimes necessary in ministry, even when the compromise doesn’t feel right? Read Matthew 19:8; 1 Corinthians 7:1-2, 7-9
Joshua’s congregation was overjoyed at his return. Do you think their response to his return, as well as the other ways Joshua found to become involved in ministering to their needs, helped him to feel better about his decision to compromise with the mission officials? Read Luke 15:20-22.
The sight of Jovan starting his new adventure in America from a segregated line angered Joshua and he committed himself to continue as a change agent. When he first arrived in South Africa, however, the policy of segregation didn’t seem to bother him. When we receive divine enlightenment why is it difficult for us to go back or to tolerate the things that were once acceptable? Read Exodus 32:19-20.
As Joshua held Tahira in his arms, all he could think about were the things he had failed to do. He momentarily forgot about the fact that the church at Fort Hare was experiencing record levels of growth and involvement from the people. When we are focused on our failures, why do we sometimes forget how God has sustained us to do good things? Why couldn’t Joshua look at his successes and know that God would sustain him to move beyond his shortcomings? Read 1 Kings 19:1-13.
When Joshua and Nongolesi gave up all of the material trappings of the mission, the Brother encouraged them that they were now on a path for God to do even more with Joshua’s ministry. Why is it sometimes necessary for God to strip us down to nothing before He moves us higher? Read Job 42:1-6,12-17.
The people’s gratitude toward Joshua revealed that he had finally become a pastor to them and had endeared himself to them. Why does God sometimes call us to leave a situation just as things seem to be at their best? Read Deuteronomy 32:48-52.
Joshua left South Africa with many things undone. He had not accomplished what he had planned, and was not able to see the end result of his mission before he was forced to leave. How should we respond when God calls us to depart from a work before it comes to fruition? Read Habakkuk 3:17-19.
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