A LENTEN task of learning Psalm 22 in Hebrew turned into a fund-raising challenge for Anne Thompson, who underwent brain surgery a few years ago.
Mrs Thompson, who is studying Hebrew at Spurgeon’s College, London, challenged herself to learn the full psalm — which begins “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” — in Hebrew, and video herself reciting it in busy spaces near her home in Kent, to raise money for the charity Tearfund.
Her mother, Mary Thompson, also learned the 31-verse psalm in English, and accompanied her daughter at the recitals in coffee shops and hairdressers.
Mrs Thompson said that, because of her brain surgery, she was unsure how much she would be able to remember. She divided the psalm into 40 sections, and learned a short section to recite each day, before putting it all together in a final recital in church on Holy Saturday.
She said: “The brain takes a long time to heal, and it was a real test of my ability to remember — and of my mum’s memory, too.
“Hebrew is not a language that is heard much in Kent, and people would stop and look, which meant we had a chance to tell people what we were doing. When people heard about the challenge, they donated.”
Psalm 22 was, she said, “quite a special one to learn in Hebrew”. Saying the words helped her to imagine Jesus on the cross, looking at his mother and the soldiers, or feeling abandoned by God.
“I decided to do it before I realised how long the psalm was, and it gets harder to learn as you go along because there’s no real logical order to the words.”
After doing an online course with Spurgeon’s in biblical languages, which included learning some Hebrew, Mrs Thompson has now embarked on a course for a Master’s degree.
The Lenten challenged raised £1155 for Tearfund.