On January 9, 10 Cubans arrived at Tyndale House for the first Hebrew Boot Camp. This Boot Camp is a continuation and expansion of the International Scholars Program that began at Tyndale House in 2012. The primary tutor for the Boot Camp is Steffen Jenkins, doing a PhD in Psalms, who is a Tyndale House reader and is fluent in Spanish.
The Hebrew Boot Camp has two primary aims: first, to allow the attendees to see what biblical scholarship can be when you have time, training, and top library resources, and secondly, to build up their biblical language skills to the level where serious research is possible.
We are told that no seminary has been able to offer decent Hebrew training. No one reaches the point where they can actually read the Hebrew Bible and most do little with it. Most prior efforts involved training faculty through short intensives taught by visitors to Cuba. The rationale for running the course here at Tyndale House has been to not only give them the space to learn the language intensively, but to show them what the point of learning it is.
Steffen says, “We are seeing that the biggest thing I’m teaching them isn’t necessarily Hebrew itself, but what you can do with students by stretching them. Their test scores have sky-rocketed, and they are doing with gusto what they assured me was impossible. None of the Boot Camp students, and none of their students back in Cuba, ever imagined that the point of learning Hebrew might be to actually read the Bible!”
A larger goal of the Hebrew Boot Camp is to produce a faculty of Hebrew for Cuba that is cross-denominational. The 10 attendees have come from 6 denominations and some of them will also teach at seminaries of other denominations. We want them to keep working together and to train others to their own level as well as training others to be seminary professors.
Three Cubans were at Tyndale House in the Summer of 2014 and received a basic Hebrew introduction from which they prepared all of the candidates for this Boot Camp. They also, however, got busy teaching at their seminaries, churches, and youth groups. There are more than 50 people waiting for their return to keep learning Hebrew. One of the three Cubans teaches at an extension of the seminary in Havana. He offered a beginner’s Hebrew course and found that every student and many of the faculty showed up.
It is such a blessing to see that there is such a hunger for the Word and for being equipped to teach the Word in Cuba. We are thankful to have our role in this Kingdom building process.