As a global and multi-cultural seminary, Asbury Theological Seminary provides opportunities for students to not only study with faculty who come from a number of countries and ethnic groups, but to also gain rich intercultural and contextual experience through study abroad.
In January 2013, Dr. Michael Matlock, Associate Professor of Inductive Biblical Studies and Old Testament on the Kentucky Campus, gave students the opportunity to explore the history, culture, and religions of Israel with significant biblical studies education and worship experiences. Dr. Matlock took students from the Florida Dunnam Campus as well as approximately twenty non-students, and was accompanied by Mr. Bill Tillman, Director of Advancement on the Florida Dunnam Campus. Participants in the course reflected on the biblical story as it relates to the people and land today, including significant exposure to the Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Janet Berry, an M.Div. student, invited her American cousin who lives outside of East Jerusalem to come speak to the group about her experience living in the West Bank. Students enjoyed expanding their knowledge about the situation there.
Marcia Hendricks, M.A. in Biblical Studies, told Dr. Matlock, “I think I have been ‘ruined’ —in the sense that I now want to know more about these things. I hunger and thirst for a deeper relationship with the Word.”
Many students shared that the Bible has come alive for them since visiting the places where Jesus walked. Dean Fleming, an M.Div. student, said, “As we studied Jesus entry into Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives [on Palm Sunday], I could visualize the scene from the perspective of Jerusalem and from the Mt. Of Olives [from our time in Israel].”
In February, Professor Matlock, traveled again to the Middle East, this time to teach in Turkey. Approximately thirty-five clergy and interested laypersons met together in western Turkey for continuing biblical studies education and spiritual renewal. Students came from the United States, Australia, England, Canada, Ireland, and Hong Kong. Professor Matlock lectured at the sites of the churches in Revelation as well as other early Christian sites in western Turkey.
Both study abroad experiences provided opportunities for growth in biblical studies, intercultural competency and contributions to the global Church.