Torn Curtain goes beyond the Iron Curtain

Torn Curtain goes beyond the Iron Curtain

Torn Curtain goes beyond the Iron Curtain

BSF prepared Peggy Sansbury to study God's Word in her South Carolina class. Years later, God used her BSF training in an unexpected way.
BY BENNETT ROLAN | BSF BLOG EDITOR
A fter a deep breath and a quick prayer, Peggy Sansbury walked to the podium. Soft light from the windows and fresh paint gave the long-abandoned Nazi interrogation room new life and a new purpose.

In January 2017, Peggy’s South Carolina pastor invited her to speak at a ministry conference in Bulgaria, sponsored by an Eastern European ministry called Mission Possible. As a former BSF teaching leader, Peggy felt comfortable in front of large crowds. But this was different. She wasn’t lecturing to her familiar Day Women’s Class, sharing with long-time BSF friends. Close to 50 Eastern European pastors, their wives and a team of interpreters gathered to hear Peggy speak about biblical marriage.

“I thought, ‘Are they going to accept me, especially as a woman teaching God’s Word?’ But it was amazing how God broke through their hearts, especially in a male-dominated society. I doubt they had ever heard biblical teaching on marriage before, and it was absolutely thrilling to see God work through this particular message,” Peggy shared.

“My role was to sow the seed that marriage should be a loving relationship, where the husband doesn’t dominate his wife, but loves her as Christ loves the Church. I was also blessed to see the wives come out of their little shells of shyness with a new hope that they could respect their husbands and experience joy in the process”

Though Bulgaria achieved its freedom in the early 1990’s, the landscape is still marked by a few dilapidated army tanks and war-torn buildings. Broken-down Nazi vehicles are painful reminders of the German invasion during World War II, followed by 46 years of Soviet occupation. During that time, the Soviet government inconsistently treated Christians with limited tolerance and open persecution.

One pastor at the conference remembers government officials raiding his father’s underground church meetings. As worshippers fled into the night, police ripped his mother’s beautifully hand-sewn banners, hung to help shield the services from authorities. Despite this persecution, church members continued to gather and laid the foundation for a new generation of believers in the area.

“These people came out of the Iron Curtain and have only been free for 27 years,” Peggy said. “Imagine that! I was speaking to first-generation Christians, including a few who were part of the underground church. Everything in their ministry is built on faith, so pure and so strong.”

Peggy (center) with the leader of Mission Possible and his wife in Bulgaria.
Peggy (front, center) with team members, Mission Possible leaders and local volunteers from the conference.
Separated by language, culture and experience, Peggy wondered if her prepared talk would resonate. But the same Holy Spirit who worked in her South Carolina BSF class spoke into the hearts of her Eastern European brothers and sisters.

“As we worshipped together, it was almost as if we spoke the same language. The Spirit of God gave us an immediate bond. And afterward, we just loved on one another, grabbed interpreters and shared how God was working in their countries and in their personal lives,” she said.

While Peggy bonded with Bulgarian believers overseas, her South Carolina BSF friends prayed for their former teaching leader.

“You don’t think about it while you’re in BSF, but it’s so true. BSF is a season of preparation for a lifetime of ministry,” she said. “I took all the power tools that had been instilled in me through BSF – learning to hear that still small voice as you read the Word, love for God’s Word, homiletics, how to prepare a lecture, how to do research – and I activated them in this new season.”

A season of preparation
In 1989, Peggy’s friend invited her to attend the new BSF Myrtle Beach, S.C., Day Women’s Class. A stay-at-home mom to young children, Peggy was searching for a deeper connection with women in her community. What she gained was a rich relationship with God through His Word.

For 26 years, Peggy continued in BSF, where she served as a group leader, substitute teaching leader and teaching leader. 

“While you’re in BSF, you get all these goodies put in your hands. You get questions each week with the notes attached, the home training lessons, the opportunity to attend seminars. I know I’ve been given so much in BSF, and ‘to whom much is given, much more is required,’ ” she quoted from Luke 12:48. “If you’ve been in BSF for six weeks, you’ve received more spiritual training than most people around the world. I would encourage every BSF class member to glean everything they can and don’t skimp on it.”

After teaching her Day Women’s Class for 11 years, Peggy felt a clear call to step down. Though the decision was painful, she trusted God to use her in a new season of service. A year later, down to the week, Peggy’s pastor asked her to participate in the Bulgarian conference.

“During that year of sabbatical, I really grieved. The women in that class were my friends and prayer partners,” she said.

The Lord showed me time and time again during the year that our spiritual journey is like the seasons of the year. We have spiritual summers, falls, springs and winters. I felt as if He was showing me that you can’t be on the front lines and yield fruit all of the time. There has to be time for rest.”

Peggy with her BSF Myrtle Beach, S.C., Day Women’s Class.
A lifetime of ministry
For Peggy, the call to Eastern Europe was unexpected, but God used her new life-stage as an empty nester to expand her ministry opportunities.

“I felt like God was pulling me off of one place on the battlefield and transferring me to another,” she said. “I’m still on that same battlefield, fighting the same enemy. I just want to be obedient. When I’m buried, I want to breathe my last breath doing God’s will.”

BSF allowed Peggy to learn, grow, connect and develop. During those 26 years, she served, prayed, taught and poured into those around her. With a new-found passion for the Eastern European church, Peggy is using those same skills in a new context.

 

In BSF and beyond
In BSF, one of our core values is to develop a “Passion for Christ,” where “our love of Jesus fuels our commitment to advance the cause of Christ.” We long to see God glorified around the world through in-depth Bible study, but we know study will only take us so far.

It’s through you, the men and women dedicated to serving in Jesus’ name, that His truth is proclaimed.

Whether we volunteer at our local BSF class or serve around the world, God calls each one of us to use our unique gifts and talents to actively advance the cause of Christ.

“Be ready in and out of season, and whatever season you’re in, embrace it,” Peggy said. “Sparkle wherever God places you, don’t give up. He provides the power for you to keep fighting for the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

How to help your child enjoy God

How to help your child enjoy God

How to help your child enjoy God

BY BARBARA REAOCH |
BSF CHILDREN’S DIVISION DIRECTOR
Kids know how to enjoy pizza, pets, games and ice cream. But how we can we help them know what it means to enjoy God? God is not looking for kids who dutifully behave, but for those who will know and love Him (Psalms 34:8, 37:4). Something will always be missing until they grasp that God made us to enjoy a relationship with Him (Genesis 1:26, Psalm 16:11, Matthew 22:25-38).
A father’s story

 

One father shared his struggles and joys in bringing his three kids to BSF every Monday. “The kids love it,” he said, “but it’s lots of work for me!”

A neighbor asked why he bothered rushing home every Monday and then back to church for BSF. “One Monday a week,” he replied, “is a small investment for the eternal dividends God promises.”

This father understands that enjoying God is a process. His kids once thought of God’s Word as a rule book. Now they’re experiencing God’s Word as His voice and enjoying a delicious meal for their souls (Psalm 119:103).

At first, his kids read the Bible just to complete all the study questions. “Over time, my kids’ thinking about Bible study has changed. It’s no longer ‘eat your vegetables.’ Now Bible study means tasting sweet honey.” The study questions serve his kids as a journal. They record God’s truths with words and pictures. This journal helps them realize what it means to enjoy God.

More than a “Dear Diary” discipline, journaling helps kids concentrate. God made our brains so the act of writing out our thoughts helps us think and remember. Here’s an amazing truth: nothing has a greater impact on a child’s life than the Word of God. The Holy Spirit takes God’s Word and points us to Jesus. When we write down what is true about God, the Holy Spirit supersizes it!

An 8-year-old’s journal entry.

These three journaling topics can also help get you started:

CLICK EACH TOPIC BELOW TO READ MORE

What do God’s actions tell you about who He is?

How can we help kids enjoy God as they would their best friend?

We cannot see God, but we can help kids know God in His Word. God’s actions tell us who He is. As you read the Bible together, point out what God is doing.

Then ask, “What did God do, and what does His action tell us about Him?”

Examples:

  • Genesis 1:1, 27; Psalm 19:1 – God created everything. God alone is able to bring something out of nothing. He is all-powerful and good.
  • Isaiah 41:10; Romans 3:24-26 – God is also righteous. Jesus willingly died so that the Father could forgive our sin and give us Jesus’ righteousness (Psalm 86:11; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Describe what God has done for you in Jesus.

Children do not understand their own sinful hearts and the greatness of God’s grace to them in sending Jesus as an atonement for sin. We can help kids understand and remember God’s acts of love.

Ask, “What has God done for me in Jesus, and how will I praise Him?”

Examples:

  • Our holy and loving Father created us to love and enjoy Him (Genesis 1:27-30; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 John 1:1-7). As His precious children we are happiest when we live for His honor (Isaiah 43:4-7; Acts 17:28).
  • Jesus is stronger than everything – even sin and death. God promises to forgive the sin of all who turn to Him and trust in Jesus. God’s children will spend eternity in heaven with Him (Ephesians 1:4-5; Romans 8:1).
How you are learning to love the things Jesus loves?

Children think their own way is best. We can help them understand the joy and privilege of obeying our loving Father, whose way is always best (Romans 6:22-23; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

As you read the Bible, watch for God’s Word to teach, challenge, correct and train you and your child (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The Holy Spirit grows us to be more like Jesus as we respond to God (Ephesians 4:22-24). Knowing God as Father changes us from being rule-keepers to people who can find joy in obedience (Romans 8:14-16).

Examples:

  • The Holy Spirit is Jesus with you all the time. All who turn to God and trust in Jesus have the Holy Spirit living in them (Romans 8:9-15). That’s how close Jesus is!
  • God invites us to taste and see His goodness (Psalm 34:8). As we spend time getting to know God by listening to Him speak, we love and enjoy Him.
Super-sized enjoyment

Journal entries help you remember. God strongly warns His people not to forget His Word. At the same time, He encourages us to actively remember His goodness (Deuteronomy 4:10; 8:2, 18; 32:7). Help your family learn to rest in God’s grace for the future as you remember together what He has done in the past (2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:8). Journal in words, pictures, stories, poems or songs, to help you remember the mighty work of God in your lives.

Journal entries help you trace God’s work to make you more like Jesus. Most children enjoy looking at family photos and videos to see how much they’ve grown. Or they eagerly mark their physical growth on a door or wall. Spiritual growth is not as easily measured. The Holy Spirit changes us little by little, as we yield to Him. In the future, when you reread the journal notes, you will enjoy God even more. He will reveal to you His power at work in the minds and hearts of those you love.

Are you ready to start journaling as a family? Parents can play an active role in helping children discover their soul’s most satisfying joy in God. This requires earnest prayer and deliberate effort. Together, families can discover that the greatest enjoyment in this world and in the ages to come is God alone.

A 10-year-old’s journal entry.

Barbara Reaoch’s new book A Jesus Christmashas just been released. The book is a 25-day journey that can guide your family through the Old and New Testaments to Jesus.

Each day’s Scripture passage leads kids of all ages to explore God’s truth in their lives. The Family Journaling space gives you a daily opportunity to begin to learn how journaling helps kids enjoy God.

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