A Place to Belong
By Hollie Roberts – BSF Executive Director
I was just another face in the crowd, one of 150 women gathered to study God’s Word in a BSF class.
Nothing about me said “BSFer for life.” I was six weeks away from having our first child, and I walked into that group with a temporary mindset. “I’ll give it six weeks. This may not be for me.”
But through God’s grace, my Group Leader saw beyond the shy woman before her. She saw me. In fact, she saw and sought to know every woman in our group. Her goal was not to win us to BSF. Her desire was that God would plant a deep love for His Word in each one of us through study and real community.
Six weeks turned into eight. Eight weeks turned into a year. And one year has stretched into many as I write to you from BSF Headquarters.
This is my BSF story. God has faithfully used these studies to shape and grow my faith through times of real struggle and true victory.
But my story is only one of many. This year alone, BSF will have 400,000 unique stories to share as members gather around the world to study Matthew.
In such a great crowd, will one story make a difference?
Matthew 1 begins with a genealogy. The author could have opened with a mighty miracle or listed the many prophecies Jesus miraculously fulfilled. Instead, Matthew begins with a list of names.
Some names are familiar, such as Ruth and David, but who is “Eliud the father of Eleazar” or “Azor the father of Zadok”?
These are easy verses to want to skip. But like every word of Scripture, God included this list for a reason. He knit together each story as part of His grand narrative – His salvation plan for humanity through His Son.
Every name on this list is a person who matters to God. Psalm 139 tells us God created their inmost being. He knit them together in their mothers’ wombs. He knew their fears, their worries, their sins, and their hopes. He walked beside them as they led thousands and comforted them in great loss.
God intimately knew every man and woman included in Matthew 1. And God knows you completely. There may not be a book in the Bible called “Azor,” or even a passage about his life, but his value before the Creator of the universe is absolute.
So often, we want to become an Abraham or a David. We long to measure our faith by the actions of Ruth and Rahab. But David did not become “a man after God’s own heart” in a day. And God spent years preparing Abraham for the moment that his belief was “credited to him as righteousness.” God built these men and women of faith over a lifetime. He met them in the small, everyday moments, preparing them for the times their faith would be tested.
We may not know anything about Azor’s life, but God does. And if God used Azor to weave the bloodline of Christ, how might He be using you?
Genealogies throughout Scripture remind us that God links us together, from one generation to the next. Matthew 1 is a collection of wealthy and powerful leaders divinely linked to outcasts and exiles. Together, this group leads to the birth of the greatest Leader and Outcast the world has ever known: Jesus Christ, our Unexpected King.
The genealogical path to the Messiah was crooked and messy. But that was God’s perfect plan.
In these names we see that God is sovereign over all things. No wealth, power, influence, or affluence was greater than God’s plan. And no tears, pain, struggles, or hardship escape His notice.
Nothing we do has the authority to shift God’s purposes or plans. But through His kindness and grace, we are invited to participate in His story.
So how will your story make an impact this year? And whom will God use to help you write it?
Just as every person listed in Matthew 1 matters to God, so does every person in your BSF group. He knows the woman on your Zoom screen and the man sitting next to you as you learn from one another. Will you take time to know them, too?
Without a Group Leader who was willing to get to know me years ago, I would not be writing this blog today. I pray that each of us, whether the world sees us as Abrahams or Azors, would see one another as God does. Through His Spirit and the power of His Word, we are all connected as part of God’s wonderful redemption story.
May we remember Matthew 1 as we meet each person who comes to our groups. May we invite those whom God places in our paths. May our group list read like the genealogies in Scripture. There is room for anyone and everyone who wants to come.
BSF Executive Director
Hollie joined the BSF Headquarters Staff in 2018. She served as a Regional Director and Chief Field Development Officer before becoming the Executive Director. Hollie first attended BSF in Amarillo, Texas, where she began serving in leadership as a Children’s Leader (CL) and Group Leader (GL). After moving to Houston, Texas she continued to serve as a CL and GL, before becoming a Teaching Leader. Hollie and her husband Kevin have two sons, a daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren. Her family is actively involved in BSF.
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Beautiful piece of divine wisdom here and I loved reading and digesting it’s content. One of Houston’s most memorable churches! It’s simply a shame my family and I had to move when I was younger.
Thank You Hollie and prayers for your family.I was also a childrens teaching assistant and admin team member Bsf Has been an important part of how God has formed the members of my family. Best of luck to you as God continues to use us to show His love.
It’s been placed strongly on my heart to ask you to consider a one or two part workshop on prayer for the following purposes.
1. To teach thoroughly everything the Bible has to say about prayer.
2. To emphasize the privilege and the power that we’ve been given in Christ to face perilous times, or…” for such a time as this.”
3. To teach about positive conditions for effective praying.
4. To lead people to pray, not only for personal needs, but, more importantly,… Kingdom prayers.
5. To encourage people, around the country, to be forming prayer circles (on zoom and/or in person)…. in families, friends, and churches. To pray unceasingly and to persevere in prayer and not give up.
I thank you for your kind consideration to this matter and I pray for your wisdom. May God bless all of your efforts for BSF… The best Bible study on the planet.
Christine – this is an amazing idea! I’m passing along to the HQ staff, so thankful for you!!
Welcome to BSF leadership as the Ex director, it’s my prayer and hope the Almighty God will lead, guide and hold you in His Holy hands as you lead the entire BSF fraternity.
Than you Hollie what an encouraging testimony. I have been involved in BSF for many years, stopping and coming back at various times and for various reasons. I have recently returned because I miss those things that you have talked about. Those truths that have carried me through difficult time.
Knowledge of the bible is one thing and that indeed has so good, but it is far more than knowledge isn’t it. That us what our church seeks and my friends who are embarking on PhDs etc I think what do they do with it all.
Through some of my darkest times, it’s the truths from bsf that have carried me through.
I remember telling my dad he had to invite Jesus into the boat. He wasn’t a Christian but he ended up giving his life to Jesus and before he died he said Jesus is in his boat taking him home.
Thank you again. God bless – Jessica Sydney
I’ve often wondered why the genealogy was written in the scriptures but it’s the very foundation of our Christian life’s. Line above line and grace above grace. It’s the very steps we follow to this understanding of who we are in CHRIST.