Study God’s Word at Home

by Warren Coe, Excutive Director, Village Schools of the Bible


Have you been wondering about what to do this coming winter? Looking for opportunity for personal growth? Then I have something you will love.

Village Schools of the Bible offers a unique opportunity to deepen your relationship with the Lord. Our discipleship offering is called Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey.

You can learn in the comfort of your home or when you are out and about.

What is Online Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey?
Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey is a journey through God’s Word beginning in Genesis. In thirty-two weeks you will discover God’s truths in the Old Testament and New Testament.

The Old Testament is divided into sixteen lessons (one lesson a week). The New Testament also has sixteen lessons.

Each lesson consists of three to four audio presentations. Each episode is about 10 minutes in length. So you can learn God’s Word at home, during a lunch break or anyplace you have time to learn from God’s Word.

The discipleship curriculum includes:

  • The Bible. You will read through the entire Bible in thirty-two weeks.
  • Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey textbooks. You will read our two textbooks (one on the Old Testament and one on the New Testament).
  •  Writing a Reflection paper. At the end of each lesson is a series of questions designed to engage you in a deeper reflection on God’s truth.

A mentor will assist you along the journey. The mentor will invite you to join the discussion forum with other students. The mentor will interact with you and your paper. Mentors will pray for you.

College Credit

College credit is available through Northwestern University at St. Paul for students who complete all the requirements.

How Do I Get Started?
Visit the website to find out more.

We are so excited to have you join this amazing journey through God’s Word. Students who take Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey all say the same thing–“Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey transformed my life.” This is the power of God’s Word in the life of God’s people.

Looking forward to hearing from you.


Study God’s Word at Home

Thanksgiving Gratitude, 2016

By Warren Coehelen-keller

Helen Keller’s Story

Helen Keller is a great example of a person who conquered physical handicaps.  Before she was two years old, Helen suffered a brain fever causing lost sight and hearing.  Because of this she was unable to speak.  Helen was shut off from the world.

For next five years she was a wild, unruly, kicking and scratching little girl.  Then her father sought help at Perkins Institution for the Blind in Boston.  Shortly before her seventh birthday, a teacher named Anne Sullivan arrived to help.  Mrs. Sullivan made contact with Helen through the sense of touch.  In time Helen learned to read and write.  At ten she learned to speak.  Ms. Keller graduated from Radcliffe College with honors.

Throughout her long life, Helen Keller became a symbol of courage to millions of blind people.  She once wrote, “I’ve always thought it would be a blessing if each person could be blind and deaf for a few days, during his early adult life.  Darkness would make him appreciate sight; silence would teach him the joys of sound.”

The Problem of Ingratitude

I don’t think Helen meant any malice when she penned these words.  Helen Keller saw a disease more dreaded than blindness.  She could see the sickness of ingratitude; a spiritual illness that poisons the human spirit.

Ingratitude is the inability to give thanks; an unwillingness to appreciate life’s blessings.  Those with the disease complain a lot and more is never enough.  Acts of kindness, like receiving a birthday card or getting a compliment are unappreciated.  Ingratitude blinds and deafens the human soul to the manifold gifts God brings each day.

How Did Job Survive the Pain?

A long time ago, a man suffered great loss.  First, his property was destroyed or stolen.  Then all his children were killed.  In time, his health broke.  Even his wife told him to curse God and die.  Job suffered like no human being.  But in midst of his pain Job thanked God.

“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number: he gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields; he sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.” (Job 5:8-11 ESV).

Job saw the hand of God throughout all creation and in his life.  Now that is gratitude.

Final Thought

Abraham Lincoln, our sixteenth President of the United States, said these words in his thanksgiving proclamation to our divided nation.  “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven…God should be solemnly and reverently and gratefully acknowledged by all Americans.

Take time this Thanksgiving season to count your blessings one by one.  Express appreciation for your family, friends and work colleagues.  In the words of the Apostle Paul, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1Th 5:18 ESV)

Happy Thanksgiving,

Village Schools of the Bible

Thanksgiving Gratitude, 2016

Our Sky is Not Falling

The Voice of the Martyrs | Used by Permission |

(November 6, 2016 was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church)

In the children’s story “Chicken Little,” a chicken frightens the other barnyard animals with warnings of doom after an acorn falls on its head.  With cries of “the sky is falling,” the chicken leads the animals on a pilgrimage to the king to tell him the bad news.  The story reminds me of how we should not address the persecution of Christians.

An August 2011 study from the Pew Research Center reported that restrictions on religious beliefs and practices increased in 23 of 198 countries between mid-2006 and mid-2009 (up 12 percent).  These 23 countries comprise 32 percent of the world’s population.  In visiting many of the 23 countries for Voice of the Martyrs work, I find that persecution and increased restrictions against Christians are due to the world’s hatred toward God and his revelation in Christ.  The more Christ is made known in these nations, the more anti-Christian persecution we see.  The sure way to stop this persecution is to stop evangelizing.  But our sky is not falling—the kingdom is increasing.

In addition to prophesying that the world would hate us and we would be persecuted, Jesus also stated in John 16:2 that we would be killed by those who believe they are serving God.  It is not biblical to desire persecution, but according to Jesus it is part of God’s plan, part of our cross-bearing.  The paradox, or apparent contradiction, is that we should pray for hostile authorities yet help the persecuted Church as part of our own family.

Christians do not lose.  As we serve persecuted Christians, we may petition governments on their behalf and pray for their release from prison, but we also realize that God can use injustice as well as justice to accomplish his will.  As John Bunyan sat in prison writing The Pilgrim’s Progress, his wife appealed (unsuccessfully) for his release.  The Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation while in exile on Patmos.  My wife Ofelia, prayed for my immediate release from prison so I could be reunited with my 1-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter.  I would expect no less from her.  But while I was in prison for 17 months, I met and fellowshipped with Pastor Noble Alexander, who secretly baptized more than 300 prisoners.  God’s plans can be on a greater scale than our worthy, heartfelt prayers.

In a letter that Richard Wurmbrand wrote on Jan. 19, 1966, he stated that Jesus “is not arrested, nor released.  He reigns over all things.”  Pastor Wurmbrand believed that his imprisonment was simply one more opportunity to share Christ.  His classic book Tortured for Christ is only 10 percent about torture and mistreatment of Christians.  The remainder is filled with examples of heroic Christian responses to persecutors, a book of evangelism!  We Christians in the West need this book more than ever as we lose jobs, teaching positions, businesses and orphanages because of our Christian convictions.  Pastor Wurmbrand regarded his enemies in a very hopeful light.  He wrote of this in Tortured for Christ:

 “But looking at men like this—not as they are, but as they will be—I could also see in our persecutors a Saul of Tarsus—a future apostle Paul.  And some have already become so.  Many officers of the secret police to whom we witnessed became Christians and were happy to later suffer in prison for having found our Christ.  Although we were whipped, as Paul was, in our jailers we saw the potential of the jailer in Philippi who became a convert.  We dreamed that soon they would ask, ‘What must I do to be saved?’  In those who mocked the Christians who were tied to crosses and smeared with excrement, we saw the crowd of Golgotha who were soon to beat their breasts in fear of having sinned.

 “It was in prison that we found the hope of salvation for the communists.  It was there that we developed a sense of responsibility toward them.  It was in being tortured by them we learned to love them.

 “A great part of my family was murdered.  It was in my own house that their murderer was converted.  It was also the most suitable place.  So in communist prisons the idea of a Christian mission to the communists was born.”

To present the persecution of Christians as “wrong” or “unjust” is half-baked theology.  Jesus prophesied that persecution can be a natural outcome of our witness.  It is right to cry out for justice for all who suffer violence or oppression.  However, it is wrong to believe that the unjust treatment of Christians cannot be part of God’s plan.  The promotion of human rights is not a substitute for the message of cross-bearing as a universal rite of passage for believers.

When the Apostle Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” he was in prison.  In a vision, Jesus told Paul to go to Rome, where he was eventually executed.  Yet his sky was never falling.  Jesus in him, the Holy Spirit was never imprisoned.

I met a house church leader in China who has been arrested seven times and spent years in jails, prisons and labor camps.  In his particular “house group,” which is composed of over 6 million believers, they use New Testament scriptures to teach that persecution can be a normal part of the Christian experience.  Today he teaches in caves, factories, fields and apartments, mostly leading seven-week courses broken up one week at a time to avoid detection.  House churches, which do not permit censorship of their sermons, are growing three times faster than the state TSPM church.  Their sky is not falling.  I asked this house church leader how his imprisonment has affected his teaching sessions, and, as he ate a piece of melon with his chopsticks, he replied, “Jesus loved me so much that he sent me to prison.”

Sabine Wurmbrand, who spent years in Romanian jails and a labor camp, said the ministry her family founded was about fellowship.  Remembering those in bonds brings us into fellowship with those who know that Jesus “is not arrested, nor released.  He reigns over all things.”

When I began working with The Voice of the Martyrs in 1972, the theme on our letterhead was Hebrews 13:3—“Remember those in bonds…”  I thought this mainly concerned helping Christians get out of jail.  I was wrong.  The chapter also mentions going boldly into the world if need be to suffer for our witness under the same disgrace that Jesus suffered.  It is about being obedient, even if it means going to jail.  From prison, Paul writes to the Colossians that we have been delivered from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Jesus’ love.  Our King is the creator of the Church.  Persecution does not surprise him.  His sky cannot fall.  Jesus—the Son—is always rising.


Our Sky is Not Falling

Politics as Mission

by Warwick Alcock, Director Strategic Operations, Village Schools of the Bible

william_wilberforce21Many Christians shun politics because it’s considered corrupt and distasteful — especially in this 2016 election year.  However, here is an historical perspective that illustrates how redemptive politics can be.

William Wilberforce (1759-1833)

In 1787, William Wilberforce wrote in his diary that God had set before him two great goals: ending the slave trade, and moral reform. The revitalization of the church and faith application in public and private life, he rightly believed, would lead to a harmonious, moral society. After becoming a British MP in 1780 aged 21, Wilberforce worked with unrelenting persistence with fellow evangelicals and other political allies to achieve his two God-given goals.

Political Methods

For Wilberforce, Black lives mattered. Using his home for strategy meetings, Wilberforce and his friends launched a protracted parliamentary campaign to end the slave trade. They researched and collected first-hand testimony and statistics, lobbied, wrote pamphlets, held public meetings, organized boycotts, printed books, participated in debating societies, published letters in newspapers and periodicals, wrote to prominent leaders, and organized hundreds of parliamentary petitions. This was the world’s first grassroots human rights campaign in which men and women of different social classes and backgrounds committed to end injustices suffered by others.

It took Wilberforce a lifetime to achieve his two great God-given goals. A month after his death in 1833, the House of Lords passed the Slavery Abolition Act and 800,000 slaves were set free. In addition to ending the slave trade, Wilberforce was a founding member of the Church Missionary Society, was active in education and prison reform, promoted public health initiatives, advocated shorter working hours and improved conditions in factories, led or was a member of 69 benevolent societies, and founded or co-founded the Christian Observer, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, hospitals for the poor, Britain’s Royal Institution for scientific research and the National Gallery.


Wilberforce’s influence was global in scope, bringing about significant reforms in Britain and her colonies. Americans influenced by Wilberforce included Frederick Douglass, John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Henry David Thoreau, Waldo Emerson, Samuel Morse, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Abraham Lincoln. Wilberforce University in Ohio, founded in 1856, America’s oldest and first African-American owned college, was named after him.

The history of William Wilberforce illustrates the redemptive nature of Christian faith applied in the political domain, resulting in the transformation of the political, social and moral culture of the British Empire. He is a role model for putting faith into action.

Five things we can do differently going forward:

  1. Don’t frown on politics as an unworthy calling. All of us are gifted and called to live out the Great Commandments and the Great Commission. Not all are gifted and called to politics. But let’s not look down on those who are. Let’s love, celebrate and cherish those who are genuinely gifted by God and called into political vocations.
  2. Look for the future Wilberforces among our youth. Encourage and disciple young people who feel gifted and called into politics. Encourage them to explore and confirm their calling. Find opportunities for them be mentored by and apprenticed to experienced, role-model politicians who authentically live out their faith in the complex world of politics.
  3. Commission politicians for mission. Let’s acknowledge and commission politicians in our churches just as we would any other traditional missionary. Wilberforce’s political achievements show how noble, missional and God-honoring politics can be. Thankfully he didn’t end up as a church minister (which he seriously considered) where his extraordinary gifts might have been seriously underutilized.
  4. Participate in the caucuses. In 2016, 10% to at best 30% of eligible voters participated in the caucuses, so relatively few voices, unfortunately, were heard on important issues. When we don’t engage, we risk abandoning the political sphere to uninspiring, self-serving politicians — and we get what we deserve. If our politics are messy, it’s because up to 70% of us don’t engage until it’s too late. Next time, let’s participate early and make our voices heard on worthy issues and candidates.
  5. Vote this November. Draw up a table with the political parties written in the column headings across the top and the main issues listed in row headers down the side (e.g. security, immigration, employment, the environment, race relations, human trafficking etc.). In the cells of the table enter scores out of 5 for each party depending in how well they reflect gospel truth on the main issues that matter. Total the scores for each party and let this inform your prayerful meditations on how best to honor God with your vote.

Ashford, B. Every Square Inch: An introduction to cultural engagement for Christians. Lexham, 2015.
Ashford B. and Pappalardo, C. One Nation Under God. A Christian Hope for American Politics. B&H, 2015.
Wilberforce, W. Real Christianity. Revised and updated by Bob Beltz. Regal, 2006.

Politics as Mission

Multiplication Ministry

sharing-breadLiving out faith in everyday life is not just about me and what God is doing in my life. It is about that. But it’s also about hungry beggars sharing Bread. “Feed My sheep,” Jesus said (John 21:17). It’s a mark of love.

Steve Mann is a leader in the corporate world who shares Bread and feeds sheep. He will share how he reaches out, disciples, multiplies groups, and builds up servant leaders. Talk about being abundantly fruitful! You will be amazed at how many people have been — and continue to be — brought to Christ and discipled through this extraordinary multiplication ministry!

This is not just about Bible study in the workplace. It’s about multiplication. It’s about the kind of fruitfulness Jesus spoke about in the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8.15). It’s about raising disciples who make disciples, and servant leaders who build servant leaders. It’s about entrusting God’s Message to the faithful who will teach others also (2 Tim 2.2).

This seminar covers a number of topics including the following:

  • Expansion from one workplace Bible study to many Bible studies in multiple locations.
  • Practical ways to reach out in the workplace, neighborhood or family.
  • Practical implications for pastors and church leaders.

God has started a movement through Steve’s faithfulness. At this seminar, Steve will share practical “how to’s” for an ongoing, expansive, multiplication ministry. You will love Steve’s inspiring and infectious encouragement, his commitment to Biblical truth, and his humble and prayerful dependence on God.

Seminar Leader: Steve Mann
When: Thursday November 17, from 7 to 9 pm.
Where: Village Center, 13815 Ridgedale Drive, Minnetonka, MN 55305

Register online or call Trish at 952-540-9460, or email

Multiplication Ministry