Author Archives: Lance Farrell

Kara Powell* Fuller Theological Seminary

What has been your experience with PRS?

A Fuller trustee introduced PRS to me, and since then, I have experienced God’s transformative power through it. PRS is a beautiful compliment to my seminary training on dissecting scripture because it has taken me from the trees to the whole forest of God’s Word.

What have you learned?

PRS provides a model of faith formation that centers on biblical listening practices rather than dependence upon “a sage on the stage” teaching. As a result, PRS reduces the pressure on designated leaders or facilitators to develop “fresh” insights.

Sharing PRS with ministry leaders is a remedy for pastors experiencing the same anxiety and stress plaguing our population. An October 2021 Barna Group study reports that 38% have seriously considered leaving pastoral ministry due to stress.

A unique advantage of PRS is that the relevance of scripture shines brightly, complimenting preaching and teaching. As a result, there are mutual benefits for leaders and listeners.

Have you had an “a-ha” moment?

We tried everything during the pandemic lockdown with children at home and church online. Adding PRS to our Family Church service was one of our best experiences.

We tailored the PRS to the season. For example, we worked through John on Good Friday, and the dramatic reading gave new insight into Jesus’ pain suffering. PRS brought us closer together with this powerful Gospel experience.

How has PRS benefited you and your organization?

The new Fuller Seminary strategic plan makes listening to God a number one priority. We are implementing PRS as the signature practice to do so. Listening was the primary way people experienced scripture in the First Century. We want to re-capture that today in the 21st century.

As part of the effort, our senior leadership team and trustee meetings start with PRS. Our hope for 2022 is to experiment with PRS in the classroom, engaging faculty to develop organic ways to integrate PRS into the curriculum.

Fuller Equip, a digital platform that translates Fuller’s scholarship and insights into accessible training for leaders, offers a course on the PRS.

Our objective is to make PRS a normative practice in academic and non-academic training to benefit participants and those they lead.

*Dr. Kara E. Powell

Executive Director, Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and Chief of Leadership Formation Fuller Theological Seminary. 

The mission of FYI is to equip diverse leaders and parents so faithful young people can change our world.  Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women to Watch”, Kara completed her PhD in Practical Theology from Fuller Seminary with a focus on Pastoral Role Expectations in 2000, an MDiv from Bethel Theological Seminary in 1994, and a BA degree with Honors from Stanford University in 1991.  In addition to her roles at Fuller Seminary, Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and volunteers in student ministries at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena.  She is the author or co-author of 3 Big Questions that Change Every Teenager, Faith in an Anxious World, Growing With, 18 Plus, Growing Young, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.

Kevin Palau Luis Palau Association

What has been your experience with PRS?

A friend invited me to my first PRS live session in New York City. I was working on the biggest, most challenging festivals at the time. I came in skeptically wondering why my friend is so wildly enthusiastic? I love God and love His word. So, therefore, I thought my daily study and devotional were adequate. So why do I need to do listen to a recording for an hour?

What have you learned?

I learned that there is a difference between spending an uninterrupted hour hearing from God directly through his word and a ten-minute Bible study and devotional.

Have you had an “a-ha” moment?

I genuinely love God’s word, but I found myself reading the same passages over and over. As I got into PRS and heard massive chunks, I discovered that I was eating the ‘desserts’ I liked. PRS forced me into a much more balanced diet of God’s word. It challenged me, and I grew personally.

How has PRS benefited you, your organization, and others?

PRS has been a huge blessing to the Palau organization and me. God’s word and the witness of the church reveal who Jesus is. Jesus Christ has changed us; we love God’s word and evangelism.

We reformatted our weekly staff chapels from a speaker and devotional to three PRS and one speaker chapel each month. Some staff and I also attend one PRS Zoom a week.

To bring PRS to Palau’s network of thousands of churches in Latin America, we worked with The Grace and Mercy Foundation to develop and produce the Spanish Audio Drama Bible

(Spanish ADB). The recording has some of Latin America’s most prominent actors and took over two years to complete. As a result, 120,000 Spanish ADB downloads have brought God’s word into many people’s lives.

We incorporate the Spanish ADB into all we do in Latin America. For example, thousands of radio stations there feature fifteen-minute PRS programs.

Through the Luis Palau Bible Institute, we share the benefits of our PRS experience with 50,000 pastors and hundreds of evangelists. We encourage them to implement PRS themselves and offer instruction on how to form a PRS group.

Kevin Palau

Kevin is President and CEO of the Luis Palau Association. Kevin joined LPA in 1985 and began directing the day-to-day operation of the ministry in the late 1990s. Under his leadership, LPA has united tens of thousands of churches in hundreds of cities to love and serve their communities and clearly share the Good News of Jesus. During Kevin’s time at LPA he has also helped develop a global network of hundreds of partner evangelists.Kevin helps lead TogetherPDX, a sustainable, united movement of churches in Portland, Oregon. His book, Unlikely: Setting Aside Our Differences to Live Out the Gospel describes the ongoing impact of the movement.Kevin lives in Beaverton, Oregon with his wife, Michelle, and enjoys serving on the boards of Alpha USA, Christians Against Poverty, and Transforming the Bay with Christ.

Leah Archibald Theology of Work Project

What has been your experience with PRS?

Several years ago, we started listening to PRS once a week together as a staff team at the Theology of Work Project (TOW). Following the reading, we would discuss what themes emerged for us during our listening.

What have you learned?

We got benefits from reading along to the dramatic Bible recordings. We also learned a lot about each other during the discussions. It was fascinating to hear how we each took different themes from the PRS passages. Work-related problems would often come up as we discussed the reading. PRS offered a fresh opportunity to review our work in the context of Scripture.

Have you had an “a-ha” moment?

As someone who writes about the Bible professionally, I thought I read the Bible a lot, and I knew it well. And I did – I could cite key chapters and phrases and pontificate well on the themes in The Bible. But what I did not have in my life was a profound experience of the Bible. Listening to PRS gave me this intimate experience.

Listening to the Bible through PRS has given me more patience with myself, my understanding or lack of understanding of the Bible, and The Bible itself.

How has PRS benefited you and TOW?

At the start of the Covid 19 pandemic, we decided to bring this experience to our users – the people who access our website. We shared a program TOW developed with Faith in Financial Services, pairing PRS with the TOW commentary on the passage. We launched a series of open PRS sessions, advertised on our website, where people could log in, listen to PRS, and discuss it together. People from all over the world participated. They all had engaged with the Theology of Work materials but never met in person. Together in a zoom room, they listened to the Bible and then talked about their work.

This success led TOW to partner with The Public Reading of Scripture to produce one-click videos. Our prayer is to bring to Christian groups across industry affiliations.

Leah Archibald

Leah Archibald is the senior writer at the Theology of Work Project, Inc., a multi-year, international project to develop a biblical, theological, and practical theology of work. As the lead writer, Leah creates Bible study guides, video adaptations, and devotionals that equip business people to apply the Christian faith to the workplace. Her devotions on topics such as How to Make the Right Decision and How to Pray for Your Work have reached over 2 million Christians online and through the YouVersion Bible app.

Leah hosts the Making It Work Podcast, a joint production of the Theology of Work Project and Fuller Theological Seminary’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership. As host of the Making It Work Podcast, Leah draws out real workplace struggles from interviewees to illuminate Scripture in a way that brings the Bible’s wisdom to bear on difficult work problems.

Prior to joining the Faith and Work movement, Leah worked as a content marketer for several IT systems integration software companies. She holds a MBA from Babson College and a BA from Mount Holyoke College.

Terry Mertink Focus on the Family

What has been your experience with PRS?

I first heard about Public Reading of Scripture through a friend who attended weekly at the Grace and Mercy headquarters in Manhattan. During one of my trips to New York, he invited me to go with him to a PRS session for lunch. After that, I was hooked, and became a regular attendee on Wednesdays. In fact, the experience of Public Reading of Scripture has been so profound, that I have introduced every executive leader from Focus on the Family Colorado headquarters to PRS. Our organization has also conducted PRS devotions in several departments using the PRS app.

What have you learned?

It is amazing how listening to a theatrical reading of the bible gives you such a good visual perspective. Especially while you are also following along with the written Word. Our teams found that the experience of PRS brought the stories to life in a way that we could each imagine the situation and characters. One person’s idea of what the biblical scene looks like might be very different from what another person might be thinking. Yet, the context of the reading is still the same.

Have you had an “a-ha” moment?

My “a-ha” moment came the very first time I attended PRS in Manhattan. We were meeting in the New York Times building on a top floor where you could see the busyness of New York City all around. People from many different offices began to show up in the conference room to participate in PRS. So many that it was standing room only. Then, the scripture readings began, and it was as if we were in an “oasis” in the middle of what is normally a chaotic city. Everything else seemed to get tuned out as the words from the bible clearly resonated through the conference room. What a peaceful experience!

How has PRS benefited you, your organization, and others?

Our organization produces a children’s theatrical audio series called Adventures In Odyssey. Because it’s audio, children over the years have imagined what each character might look like. PRS gave us the idea to have the characters read major bible passages and chapters. We then were able to post the readings online for families to listen too at home over meals and in family devotion times. The impact was tremendous! Many families have been enjoying PRS sections voiced by the characters of Adventures In Odyssey. We now plan to have the Adventures in Odyssey characters record the entire bible.

Terry Mertink

Terry Mertink joined the Focus on the Family team in 2016 with the Office of the President. His prior career includes 20 years senior management in the high-tech industry. As a member of the Office of the President, Terry covers major territories of the United States as an ambassador of Focus on the Family to build strong, supportive relationships for the ministry. He speaks regularly throughout the country representing Focus on the Family. He and his wife Rona have been married for 32 years and have 3 adult children. The family resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Ask Terry what his best day ever would be and he would tell you….“hanging out in my ‘mancave’ using a hammer and saw, then cooking steaks on the grill and playing games with my family in the evening.”

Jaeshil Kim Liberty University

What has been your experience with PRS?

I was born and raised in a strict Korean-Christian family. Around seventeen, I was forced to participate in a Bootcamp-like PRS at my church, reading the whole Bible day and night for five days. Several times per year, we also read the New Testament straight through Friday nights. I did not appreciate this intensive experience at all nor remember it positively.

What have you learned?

Whether or not someone has a theological understanding of the Bible, reading the Bible with a PRS style is very different from reading the Bible individually. The sense of community and the act of public reading of the Word can be more powerful than individual reading, affirming my training as a linguist.

Have you had an “a-ha” moment?

When I came to the United States as a graduate student, I completely forgot my less than positive childhood PRS experiences. During the lockdown, I realized how much I miss having an experience like PRS. Being deprived of fellowship with other believers, I became convicted and motivated to read the Bible with others. In prayer, I told the Lord that I yearned to read the Bible with other believers.

Forty-five days later, I received an answer to my prayer. Dr. Bell, our Associate Dean, extended an invitation to a PRS led by The Grace & Mercy Co-President Chris McPadden and his wife, Linda. I thought my PRS experience was only possible in a conservative Korean church. I was immensely excited to know that PRS is in the US, too. The invitation made my day!

How has PRS benefited you and your organization?

For most of us, practicing the discipline of reading the Bible can be burdensome. PRS is a great way to allow believers to gather and read the Bible together as brothers and sisters spending time with God. The communal setting allows the Lord to speak to us. We are soaked in His Word rather than trying to analyze the passages by ourselves.

I believe that PRS is a marvelous addition to Liberty University’s strong commitment to the Bible. I have been sharing PRS with my colleagues and students. In addition, the PRS experience can benefit other colleges, universities, and mission organizations. Besides being a professor at LU, I also do mission work with a few colleges in South East Asia. I plan to share PRS with the professors and students there, too.

Last but not least, I have found that the PRS global app is very helpful with the availability of multiple languages, such as Arabic. We recently have an Arabic program in the Modern Languages Department, so having an Arabic Audio Drama Bible is a valuable resource. My colleague who teaches Chinese has also found the app most helpful.

I am blessed to learn how God has changed my youthful PRS reticence for a passion.

Jaeshil Kim

Jaeshil Kim is an Associate Professor of Linguistics at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Ever since she joined Liberty in 2007, she has been teaching and doing research on linguistics, as well as training her students for Bible translation. She is passionate about exploring the wondrous world of human language and sharing the passion with her students. Her passion for teaching and mentoring was recognized with the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2009 and the Excellence in Research Mentorship Award in 2019. After getting her Ph.D. in linguistics from University of California at Irvine in 2005, she has been teaching at UC-Irvine, Liberty University, and Summer Institute of Linguistics for over 15 years. Additionally, she has been working in Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia as a senior education consultant for a missions organization called “Bridge Builders Global” since 2010.

Manny Maldonado Fellowship of Christian Athletes

What has been your experience with PRS?

One of my FCA colleagues invited me to a Friday morning Public of Reading of Scripture gathering. My experience had been to read and study the Word. It was different and new to listen to large passages of the Bible. I saw a lot of people who looked and dressed differently than me. But, the gracious welcome in the room helped overcome my feelings of discomfort. It was helpful to know that I wasn’t alone but listening to God’s Word in community.

What have you learned?

I have learned to stop, pause, slow down, chew the words and journal them into prayers. PRS also trained me to be more of a listener. It has taught me more about the history of the Bible. Coming from a charismatic Latino background, experiencing someone like Mark Gornik has given me balance. Having him teach the Bible in context has inspired me to research more and communicate better. I am practicing simple, succinct communication as a result.

Have you had an “a-ha” moment?

While it is very difficult to put this into words, I experience God’s Word shaping my heart during PRS. It has shown me different gifts of the spirit lived out in the context of community. Sometimes we can read the Bible, but we don’t know what the Word looks like in everyday living. Being at PRS over a long period of time in community allows me to see these gifts lived out through other brothers and sisters in the faith. Experiencing PRS hospitality of welcome and a smile is different from my experience in New York. It made me want to be there more. It felt like God saying to me to plant roots here.

How has PRS benefited you and your organization?

As a result of being in PRS and community, I wanted to share the love of Christ with those who may have never experienced it before, specifically coaches and athletes in the City. In PRS, God speaks to you through his Word and highlights areas He wants to change your life with His love.

Pastor Frank Reynoso, the Metro Advancement Coordinator, leads our staff meeting using the PRS app to engage, equip, and empower our staff. We use PRS as one of the resources as we minister to and through our staff. We also encourage them to do PRS with their staff and on the athletic field.

The staff includes area reps, ambassadors, state, multi-area, and metro directors. Outside FCA, it includes coaches, athletes, character coaches, board members, donors, and volunteers. We have seen God use PRS in simple ways by just pressing play on the athletic field with a speaker before games. This space has created curiosity and conversations with those that are curious about following Christ.

Before COVID, we did a basketball skills and drills clinic; before beginning, we listened to a long psalm followed by reflection. After that, there was a conversation and great questions. After that, the athletes and coaches felt comfortable opening up. During COVID, we did a virtual leadership camp and a Christmas event. Both had told Christ’s story through PRS.

Manny Maldonado

Manny Maldonado was born and raised in the Jacob Riis Housing Projects in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City. His nationality is of Puerto Rican descent. He’s currently serving as the Metro Director for FCA in New York City. He’s passionate about Jesus, Sports, and New York City. He’s happily married to Drusilla, his wife of 20 years, and loves their three handsome boys Manny, Roman, and Levi.

Daniel Sanabria Youth for Christ

What has been your experience with PRS?

I attended the Pastor’s Prayer Summit in January 2018. There was a segment on the Public Reading of Scripture (PRS). As a follow-up, The Grace and Mercy Foundation invited me to a PRS at its offices. I accepted the invitation. There were all these people. They served breakfast; Pastor Mark Gornik introduced the Scripture. No one talked. I was shocked as I felt peace and awareness hearing and reading along to the Scripture. I later attended the Wednesday afternoon session regularly.

What have you learned?

I have learned that the Word is powerful and needs to be heard. No other thing change lives but the Word of God. I fell in love with hearing the Scripture aloud as my relationship with God deepened.

Have you had an “a-ha” moment?

I wondered why anyone didn’t offer or suggest for me to listen to Scripture. I grew up in the Church, read Scripture, and knew God’s plan for me, but hearing and reading the whole Scripture gave me understanding. I experienced His wisdom and knowledge anew.

How has PRS benefited you and your organization?

I work for Youth for Christ (YFC). It is a national ministry with a 73-year history of discipling young people. Youth for Christ is a big umbrella serving schools, local communities, and the disabled. Mentoring young people one-to-one is a key practice.
I lead YFC’s New York City Juvenile Justice Ministry, which is one of 200 such groups. My assignment includes the Crossroads (Brooklyn) and Horizons (Bronx County) detention centers. They hold arrested thirteen to eighteen-year-olds for up to a year between arrest until sentencing.

Earlier, I decided to lead PRS at my Church, Park Slope Christian Tabernacle, as the Youth pastor. Their 45 minute Wednesday evening PRS continues today. The strong acceptance of PRS at the Church encouraged me to try it at the detention centers.
We offered Chic-fil-A to the children. In the beginning, they came for the food and left before PRS. Then, every week more stayed to hear and read along with the Scripture. After that, the children and the staff fell in love with PRS.
Kids asked questions like, “Who is Paul?” and, “Who is John?” Many great mentoring discussions followed PRS.
The children I minister receive the same blessing I do from PRS.

Daniel Sanabria

Executive Director Daniel is a born and raised New Yorker who lives in Brooklyn with his family. Daniel brings a wealth of leadership and experience from the youth ministry landscape across New York City. In addition to leading youth ministry networks that impact hundreds of Churches across the five boroughs of NYC, he’s also the founder of youth led prayer initiative called God Belongs in My City. Under his leadership, this initiative has spread to 80 cities across the U.S. and now to other countries around the world. Daniel is excited to lead our YFC team as we launch our initial ministry effort in New York City around Juvenile Justice. He’s excited to leverage his experience in the city and his vast network with local Churches to raise up caring volunteers to come alongside kids in tough places before, during and after incarceration. Daniel has his B.A from King’s College in Business and Marketing.