COVID-19 sparks surge in Bible study inquiries

The second "Forgive to Live" course focuses on the spiritual aspect of forgiveness.

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Interest in Hope Discovery Centre (HDC) courses has spiked over the past week, with dozens of people expressing their desire to learn more about forgiveness and other faith-based topics.

The HDC team, based at Adventist Media in Wahroonga (NSW), sent letters to contacts who had previously completed a course on forgiveness (entitled “Forgive to Live”). Of the 80 people who received letters, 40 wrote back asking to be enrolled in the follow-up “Forgive to Live 2” Bible study.

HDC manager Sharon Martin said the 50 per cent return rate was “very unheard of”.

“It’s the quickest and largest response I have seen during my 14 years of working at the Discovery Centre,” she said.

Twenty of those who responded are currently enrolled in the Forgive to Live 2 course, which, unlike the initial study, presents the topic within the framework of “God’s forgiveness”.

“It’s very exciting to see people searching for and exploring spiritual topics,” said Mrs Martin. “When it comes to forgiveness, I think it’s something that triggers people’s interest. Everybody relates to it. We have all had something happen in our lives where we need to offer or receive forgiveness.”

Mrs Martin believes the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions have contributed to the increase in responses, with people and families dealing with new and existing relationship issues while in isolation.

The Forgive to Live courses are based on Dr Dick Tibbits’ book of the same name. The second study, released only a couple of months ago, is already helping people to mend broken relationships.

“I was able to share [the course] with my colleague who was facing difficulties in forgiving someone who wronged him,” wrote one participant. “After sharing it with him, he had the courage to personally approach the person who he had an argument with, and they were able to reconcile.

“Thank you for sharing the message of forgiveness.”

In addition to the Bible study “arm” of their ministry, the HDC team have also been busy reading and responding to the 40 to 50 prayer requests that come in every week.

“These are difficult times,” said Mrs Martin. “People are searching for something and reaching out, and we are blessed with the opportunity to help guide them.”

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