Summary: How to Use Case Studies as Jesus Did

How to Use Case Studies as Jesus

1. He allowed people to put themselves in many different difficult identities, roles, and responsibilities. This allowed the people to repeat this story imagining how the woman must have felt in such a desperate condition. Jesus highlighted the fact that the woman’s faith provided liberation from the evil spirits for her daughter. The faith of parent’s, teachers, and leaders can make a dramatic effect in freeing people from all types of bondage. He emphasized the regardless of a person’s background they are not limited from experiencing the best from the Lord. He taught the disciples an important lesson in overcoming their discriminatory tendencies by showing them that even a woman Gentile (A woman gentile would have been avoided at all costs by any self-respecting Jew during the times of Jesus) and her daughter were important for the Lord of the universe to care about.

2. Jesus showed that case studies do not always have easy solutions, but involve many complex factors. Even Jesus hesitated at first to address the woman’s need. It realized the difficulties of cross-cultural ministries. He was fully aware that His primary focus was to the Jews and not to the Gentiles. Yet, He trained His disciples in integratively solving problems with wisdom, knowledge, and faith.

3. Jesus used case studies as opportunities for the disciples to learn how to link theory and practice. One of the most difficult aspects of teaching in a theological seminary in Africa is nurturing the student’s ability to bridge theoretical abstract truths with their real lives and ministries. Case studies have a way of bringing the theoretical into practical terms that most students can really get their teeth into. Yesterday, I gave a case study about the dynamics of king-making in Africa for a Cultural Anthropology final exam. The students worked for four hours drawing links between the practical case study borrowed from Paul Hiebert’s Case Study book to principles learned in the class. They unanimously shared, ``This was the most meaningful exam we have ever taken in our life!’’

4. Jesus used case studies to broaden the horizons of His disciples. Most of the disciples rarely had the opportunity to move much beyond their home region. They lacked a greater global perspective that many of us have today thanks to global - satellite television, newspapers, and radios. A broadened perspective helps one see that failure in one aspect does not have to mean defeat in all elements of life. Macro perspectives lift our eyes beyond the problems of one’s immediate circumstances. The first verse that I read this morning challenged me to consider lofty perspective above my own closed system. Col. 3:1,2 said,

``Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.’’

While at the same time I am focusing my attention on heavenly concerns I am automatically putting to death my earthly evil desires. Jesus knew that parables and case studies have a medicinal affect on people’s thinking. Broadened horizons rid ourselves of the unregenerate practices, thoughts, and even feelings of those bound by their earthly passions.

5. Jesus used case studies to help alleviate people’s fears of the unknown. When the other disciples watched Peter walk on the water to meet the Lord, they would have been greatly inspired by the power of their Master over all forces in nature. In Africa, many people live in a constant state of paralysis of fears. These fears usually center around alarm about death, ancestral spirits, sickness, suffering, oppression, hunger, pain, disasters, or attack from numerous human and supernatural enemies.

``One student of Jos E.C.W.A. Seminary in Nigeria, recently shared with me that in his tribal history, people believe that when someone dies his soul does not migrate very far away from the family. Many of these ancestral spirits take up dwelling places in trees, rivers, rocks, or chosen burial sites. Their duties include keeping watch over their families to see if they are properly venerated and obeyed. Punishments are meted out by the ancestral spirits to those who are neglectful, disrespectful, or disobedient to the customs and culture of the tribe. Serving as watchdogs, the ancestors keep the people in line through a complex system of fear. Since, few people in the village are aware of how or why the ancestors become offended, intercessory priests constantly need to offer appeasing sacrifices to the ancestors. This acts to alleviate the fears of many villagers, but also keeps them under a cloud of apprehension. Since, the ancestors do not take advice from the living, they are a constant threat to all who are under their powers. Ancestors are seen to do whatever they deem necessary in order to keep the cultural heritage of the tribe preserved. They seen as being easily annoyed or offended so the people are gripped with a continual sense of terror over what the ancestors might afflict them upon them or members of their families!’’ (Titus Turaki, class assignment, 1992)

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