Q&A: Dr. Timothy Larkin, volunteer award winner
By Theresa Smith
GCU News Bureau
Dr. Timothy Larkin, a Grand Canyon University professor, is the recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award for 2018 from the Changing Lives Center for Women & Children of the Phoenix Rescue Mission.
Larkin, who teaches sociology in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, has taught interactive Bible study at the women’s and family shelter twice a month since 2012.
For Larkin, the epitome of servant leadership, volunteering at the shelter is part of living his faith. He explained the connection in an interview with GCU Today:
What led you to this work?
I began teaching/facilitating the Bible study after I took my GCU Social Problems class to the Changing Lives Center for a dialogue with the women on the “force” of God’s work in their lives. As a class, we had been studying the social forces (government programming, protest movements and the force of social problems) in society. I wanted to provide an understanding of the social force of a Christian program and the life-transformation “force” of Christ. Afterward, I met with the Changing Lives Center for Women & Children staff and volunteered to lead a Bible study.
How do you bring it to life/make it interactive?
The purpose of the study is to encourage participants to read the Scriptures and empower the participants to think through the meaning and application of the Biblical text. I do not lecture because this is not the purpose of the study. I will facilitate by asking questions and providing background to the text.
We start the study with one of the ladies selecting a book of the Bible with which they are not familiar. I bring approximately 10 Study Bibles, and the ladies also have Study Bibles from the Changing Lives Center. We look up the background of the selected book of the Bible and share with the group. Ladies learn to make studying the Bible their own. They learn how to find books and verses.
From this point, we engage a Scripture passage and go around the circle reading sections of the passage and then discovering what the Study Bible has to say about the verses. Questions are always welcome. The ladies will state corresponding Scriptures and we will all look them up.
The group has developed a CTA method: C=Content, T=Truth, A=Application, whereby they talk about the verse or section we are reading as to its content, truth and application in their lives.
The study ends with going around the group and sharing “takeaways.” What is it that will stay with you? What will you take away? We have takeaways such as, “I didn’t know James was Jesus’ brother,” or “I just found out that the wise men did not arrive at the same time as the shepherds to see Baby Jesus.”
A new lady to the CLC program stated: “This is the first time I have ever read the Bible for myself,” and “I just realized that the Bible really talks a lot about God’s love.” After the “takeaways,” we say a prayer. The ladies share prayer requests and prayers for each other.
How are these efforts fueling your faith?
I participate in this study as a part of my organizing principle of Christian faith in my life. I believe faith is active, in community and grounded in the truth of Jesus and the Bible. Such activity for me keeps me seeing with Christ-centered spiritual eyes and experiencing joy. Not once in all of these years have I left the study feeling down or discouraged. My joy is living the Christian faith in community with these great ladies in the shelter and in conjunction with a Christ-centered program.
Contact Theresa Smith at (602) 639-7457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GCU Today: GCU connects with Phoenix Rescue Mission