I’m not her.
A friend of mine at church has a heart of gold. She grew up unchurched. One of those I’m-new-to-this-and-so-hungry-for-Jesus kind of gals. I love her.
She does a lot for our local church. We have that in common.
But we have our differences too.
Kathy oversees two ministries. One is a Bible club for kids at a nearby trailer park. On Monday nights, every week, she spends a few hours with these kids. Teaching them from the Bible, playing games, eating snacks and occasionally dinner.
She sees these kids around town throughout the week too. At the ice cream parlor. Football games. The grocery store.
We rarely, if ever, see these kids in our local churches. They too, like Kathy, are growing up unchurched.
For the most part, Kathy offers one of the few glimpses of Jesus they will see on a weekly basis.
Kathy also started a local chapter of a nationwide ministry called Embrace Grace.
We read this in the “About” section of their website:
We are looking for churches and resource centers to partner and join with us as we inspire the world to think differently about people you encounter and meet with crisis pregnancies. When you love these girls, babies are saved and generations are changed and we become real examples of how being pro-love can change the world.
On Monday nights, every week, after Kathy wraps up her time at the trailer park, she meets with young, unmarried pregnant ladies. Together, they go through a Bible study. They share stories, eat snacks and basically just support one another. After so many weeks of Bible study, the girls “graduate” from the program and they are given a baby shower. Our church provides gifts they need as they prepare to welcome their little miracle into the world.
Like I said, Kathy and I are different.
My weekly ministries include writing online and teaching a mid-week Bible study for our church. I minister, every week, to a big variety of women.
But if you want to create a stereotype of the women I teach, here it is:
Faithful, church-going women who love Jesus enough to take time out of their busy weeks and study His Word. Most are married. These women make up the backbone of our church; volunteering to teach Sunday School, help with youth group and greet on Sunday mornings.
Now, our enemy loves stereotypes. I chuckled as I wrote the above paragraph because these women seem to have it all together. On paper. And do you know what this enemy of our soul tries to tell me on a regular basis?
You aren’t doing anything important for the Kingdom. All you do is get together with your sweet church ladies and talk about the Bible. The blessed teaching the blessed. Big deal!
If I’m not careful, that can get me to overthinking. About women like Kathy. Those who minister to the unchurched. I have other friends who work in prison ministries. Taking God’s Word to people who desperately need it.
And before you know it, I’m comparing.
Next thing you know, I can start to wonder... “Am I doing any good for the Kingdom?” Just like Satan wanted. I begin painting Bible study in very broad strokes. This book club where perfect women sit around a table reading their Bibles and drinking lattes.
Maybe you’ve thought this way before too. Perhaps the enemy has tried to convince you that if you aren’t planning your next mission trip to Africa or giving homeless people rides to an area shelter where you cook the meals, you aren’t doing worthwhile Kingdom work.
It’s a lie, people.
An old trick the enemy has been using since, well, ask Eve about an unfortunate experience she had in the garden.
When I share these fleeting thoughts with my Bible study ladies, they offer such rich insight into why we must continue doing Bible study. Here are a few reasons I have heard:
The temptation is always there to fall away from our Christian walk. Bible study offers accountability and fellowship.
Even though I’ve gone to church my whole life, I don’t know much about my Bible.
I’m a new Christian and love that I’ve found a group where I can learn more about the Bible and have a safe place to ask questions.
I am a believer, but I don’t have a home church right now. You women keep me in God’s Word.
Those are just a few things they’ve shared with me over the years. Group Bible study fills a very real need for many women.
Let’s back up a bit too and consider our stereotypical Bible study attendee. The one who made me chuckle. Here are some of the women who actually attend our weekly groups:
Recent widows facing life without their husbands. Fragile and grieving, they are left to figure out finances, where they should live and work.
We recently did a lesson learning about God’s unconditional love for us. Considering God as our Creator, I asked the ladies to go around the room and share one thing God created in them that they liked. The discomfort in the room was palpable.
Many of our ladies have gone through couples therapy, trying to save their marriage. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Other times, a restored union emerges and they have a beautiful testimony to share with others.
Women who struggle with severe anxiety, depression, addictions, chronic illness.
New believers overwhelmed at the thought of picking up the Bible and understanding it.
A woman who writes me a note of thanks. She admits to living so much of her life in fear. And she needs the reminder that she belongs to God. He loves her and she can do all things through Christ who strengthens her.
I know Kathy pretty well. She is not perfect. I know myself very well. I’m not perfect either. But we both find ourselves living into the redeemed life Christ has set before us.
I’ll close with one of Kathy’s favorite verses. It applies to BOTH of us:
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10