A Story of Faith in Action
As prison guards searched her belongings, fear and doubt threatened Ana Machado’s resolve. God had called her to share His Word. He had opened too many doors at the Miami, Fla. correctional facility for her to turn back. What would she find inside? How would the women respond?
“That first day, God provided the strength. He opened so many doors to get to those beautiful souls,” she shared.
When the guards finally allowed Ana and her two friends to enter, they saw hundreds of women standing in line for their evening meal. With nothing to offer but God’s Word, Ana asked each woman if she might be interested in joining a Bible study. Most declined, but one woman in her 20’s hesitated.
Looking over her shoulder, the young woman said, “I’ll come.”
As Ana and her friend Martha talked about Jesus and His love for sinners, the woman sat in tense silence. Encouraged by the group to share, Martha remembers her saying:
“My grandmother was a Christian woman. I just came out of being in solitary confinement for 30 days. I’m one of the most hardened ones in here. In that solitary confinement, I was given a little pamphlet about Matthew, and I was reading the gospel. And when you said you were beginning in Matthew, something pushed me that I needed to go with you ladies. I just need you to explain to me more about Jesus.”
Captivated by the woman’s story, Ana’s fears and doubts dissolved. The “hardened criminal” before her was simply a lost and lonely young woman. Ana, herself, had been lost once, longing for something to give her peace. She knew how it felt to hunger for Saving Grace. With a compassion born of the Holy Spirit, Ana and Martha shared the gospel.
“Will God really forgive me?” the woman asked. “Will He really forgive me for everything I’ve done, for all my crimes?”
Speaking from experience, Ana said “Yes.” In tears, the woman fell to her knees and accepted Jesus as her Savior.
At the end of the study, the woman shared:
“My life has been transformed because of this Bible study and because I have come to know Christ. That first night I was so fearful, now I talk to the others in here, the other inmates, about Jesus. And because I was who I was, I have learned that it’s given me a platform. And they listen.”
Today, Ana continues to share God’s Word with the women in the Homestead Correctional Facility. She is no longer afraid because they have become like family.
“God has showed me through the prison ministry that although they are incarcerated, although they are behind bars, with God they can all find true freedom. They are leading a free life in Christ, even behind bars. This fact alone is so humbling. We became their advocates. When you hear their stories, God softens your heart. You truly learn to listen,” Ana shared.
Through a simple act of obedience, Ana stepped through prison doors. From there, God opened hearts. Each of us has a BSF story to share, and each of us has one that God is writing. How will God use you to impact others for Christ? Where is He calling you to share?
BSF has a special place in my heart.
I grew up in a Godly home, although we were part of a denomination most would consider outside mainstream Christianity. We attended church regularly, Sunday morning and evening and Wednesday evening. My dad was an elder and was a lay pastor for our tiny congregation. I was baptized when I was 8. I grew up learning about God and His Son, but I didn’t know God.
As a young adult I began attending church less and less often. I knew something was missing from my life but I didn’t know what. I was trying to fill the emptiness inside with career, advanced schooling, hobbies, friendships etc. In my late 20’s my husband’s career moved us to “the middle of nowhere” away from family, friends and a job I loved! I think God was trying to get my attention. The first day on my job the person training me was telling me how God had “rolled up his sleeves and reached down and pulled her up out of the gutter”. I thought to myself who talks like that? And it seems every person I worked with was a Christian and openly talked about God. I had never been around people like this. I developed a friendship with a fellow nurse and one day she was telling me about a book she was reading, “Created for Commitment” by A. Wetherell Johnson. She started telling me about a bible study that was going to be starting soon and wondered whether I would be interested. I knew in that instant that this is what I had been searching for. I felt like one of those cartoon characters where you see the lightbulb go on above their head. I was excited for this Bible study but it was several months before it started. It turns out this was going to be a pilot study for BSF and it was a short study of Philippians.
When we got to Philippians chapter 3 I saw that like Paul, I had been putting my confidence in the wrong things. I had been baptized, I had membership in a church, my father was an elder, and I tried to be a good person. I thought surely those things would get me into heaven. Yet when someone would talk about Jesus’ return, my stomach would knot in fear. Not long after this I prayed and accepted Christ. I felt like in one month of bible study I had learned more than I had in a lifetime of attending church. I remember in those early days of reading my Bible I often didn’t understand it, but as my teaching leader had advised, I would stop and pray for understanding. Often as I read it again, the understanding would come. I was amazed. God was answering my prayers! He also gave me a hunger for His word and He had me in a situation where I had the time to devote to it. BSF gave me a place to learn and grow where no one questioned my beliefs or denominational background. I continued in bible study and my life began to change. I became involved in a Bible based church. After seeing the change in me my husband also started attending BSF, as well as my preschool aged children.
Several years ago I returned to BSF and I am currently serving as a Group Leader. My daughter in law and 3 of my grandchildren are also attending BSF. I am happy to have a small part in what God is doing through BSF in the hearts and lives of people.
Studying Isaiah and the prophets this year comforted my heart. I had many questions I needed to ask God about why my life has taken the route it has as I live one day at a time wondering how I make it through the day with my husband who has become disabled mentally after having been very sick with the Covid-19 virus in December 2020.
I began in BSF in about 1986…declined an invite to BSF twice before the Lord gently showed me HIS plan….l had Genesis twice (fav study) to get John.
I had been a CL in the two’s class and now the 5’s…..never knowing God was preparing me for my own miracle….a son born after surgeries for both myself and my husband. Women in our small circle of about 25 were praying for my infertility.
I left as a graduate and 3 yrs later they added the life of Moses and when l brought my 3 yr old in and saw his Damon on a name tag l could hardly believe God had given me my hearts desire.
Too many stories but a fav of mine is that after college my son meet his wife at a young adults BSF( at that time only about 15 ) and proposed to her at the church parking lot.
God has allowed me to serve in the CD for about 30!yrs ….he had a different plan for my love for children than l had….and now as a group leader for the past 4 yrs…..
I have also been leading a summer BS at my place of employment for the past 10 yrs where l am a fitness instructor.
God has blessed there sending women of different faiths to come…….
BSF has given me a true beautiful picture of the Lord God Almighty and a desire at 72 to be keep pressing on to share HIS message…..Who will go …..send me Lord Jesus.
To whom it may concern:
Bible Study Fellowship helped me to put down my miracle stories on paper. I am so grateful for this. Otherwise, this amazing story would have been lost in my memories.
I hope all is well! The purpose in sending you this story is to encourage you and share with you yet again another story of God’s loving care and intervention in another person’s life, mine. God’s coming and meeting a deep need in my life was only a glimpse of how deep and wide His love, provision and power extends. May God be glorified as you read my story.
You are welcome to share this amazing story.
What lessons can you learn about God’s provision from this passage? This passage taught me that I should trust in God to provide for my financial needs. Moreover, God may want me to obey Him in a particular action that would demonstrate God’s care and miraculous power in order to pay off my debts.
(Share)***b. When has God stretched your faith by meeting a deep need in your life? God stretched my faith by meeting a deep need in my life concerning not going in debt. After reading scriptures regarding managing finances, I asked God for a home that would help us not go in debt. God answered that prayer and provided a home for us to buy which demonstrated His provision and power and love through a couple miracles.
The first miracle was revealed after a 2 year process following 2 liens associated with the home. At the end of this time period, our realtor told us that the second lien was lost in a pool of bad liens and that we would never find it. After hearing this, my prayer warrior and I turned to God totally depending on Him for a miracle asking if He wanted me to own this particular home. In our immaturity and simple trust in God, my prayer warrior friend prayed that by the following Thursday, God would help us find the second lien again. That following Thursday morning, a fax arrived on my realtor’s desk requesting a market analysis for the homes listed. My home’s lien was listed! By the time we signed the papers for the home, I asked my nonbeliever realtor what he thought about all of this. He said that he now knows that their is a God up there.
After living in our new home a year and updating it, my husband became unemployed. We followed God’s lead and took a job in another state where God provided a home for us where the cost of homes was increasing in value at that time. After 6 1/2 years, yet again, God provided another job which brought us back to the same town where our old home was located.
This is when our second miracle occurred. God woke me up from a deep sleep one morning around 4 or 5 a.m. and told me to go in my old sold home, and look at the time on the clock. This happened three times. Unfortunately, I never looked at the time. I did, though, begin to wonder: What is going on that I need to go into the house? Is the owner of the home okay? I sought God for wisdom and asked, “How am I going to go into the house?” In my mind came the following thought, whether it was my thought or God’s, I’m not sure: “Ask the home owner if my realtor could see her home, so the realtor would know what we were looking for in a home.” Nervously, I went to see the owner of the home ready to ditch the plan at any moment. Fortunately, I was greeted by the owner’s daughter on their sidewalk and was relieved that the people who bought the house were still the owners. The daughter insisted that I speak with her mother, and so the owner greeted me at the door. I asked my question, and she responded saying that that very morning at 4:00 a.m., she asked God to help her sell her home because her ex-husband kept coming back to the house. She invited me in and went to get a pencil and paper. I did not go into the house. It was at this time, I remembered that I was suppose to go into the house. So nervously, I opened the door and took one step into the house when I remembered a conversation I had with God 6 1/2 years ago. My conversation was a grumbling session. I complained to God that I would never be able to pay off a home unless we moved to a place where the cost of housing increased, and then came back to a place where the cost of homes stayed the same. This is exactly what happened! God answered my prayer. Now, I had a decision to make: Do I buy our old home back and pay it off in full, or do I follow “the Jones” and buy a bigger home and owe money? I chose to buy our old home back and pay it off in full.
The story of God’s provision through this home is almost finished. Eight years later, we moved to another state where God led us to rent our old home at a very low rate to a single man with two toddlers. I did grumble about the lease amount. However, 3 years later when we sold our old home, God gave back all our money we would have made if we rented our home at a reasonable price. In addition, the house sold for three times more than when we bought it. So we followed God’s leading and used the money towards His work and to help pay off our children’s college fund and pay off our home in Colorado. God’s provision and care was so evident in our lives through those years, and all because we sought God first through His scriptures and took a step of faith to trust and obey God and do things His way.
P.S. Other miracles not mentioned:
Following the 2 liens for two years from place to place was a series of miracles.
While in Tulsa for 6 1/2 years, the company my husband was working for never before gave bonuses. However, that year they gave us a bonus which would help pay off the difference for the house we were going to buy in Midland, Texas, location of our first, “old” home.
When we bought our old home, the home owners sold the house to us at the same rate as we sold it to them. Fortunately we previously sold it to them at a low cost. My husband said that the cost of living did go up a little during that time period, but it didn’t effect us.
Two years before we moved back to our old neighborhood, we almost moved back. The house almost sold then, but the sellers couldn’t sell the house because the roof needed to be replaced due to a layer of the old wood shingles under the old composite roof. Maybe it was around $15,000-$30,000 to have the roof replaced? I don’t remember the cost. About a week before we bought the house, a hail storm occurred in our old home’s neighborhood. Insurance paid to have the home’s roof replaced. In this way, God provided a way for us to use our money to pay the house off in full.
The court system was set up in a way where we could buy the 2 liens in bankruptcy, and then foreclose on ourself, owing ourselves nothing since we owned the 2 liens by then.
Norma- thank you for sharing! This is SO encouraging!
And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” (Jonah 4:11)
The Lost Dog
Jonah’s book ends with God’s declaration of His care for the lost people of Nineveh, and also the many animals there. I have been meditating on this verse since my dog Cherry was lost, but she was found.
We travelled to Switzerland this Christmas, and put Cherry in the care of a church friend. With Cherry in the care of an experienced dog host, I left for the long-awaited vacation with a peaceful mind. It was not until near the end of our trip, in the early hour of the New Year’s Eve, I was awaken with a phone call from Hong Kong, my friend kept apologizing sobbingly, “I’m sorry; I’m really sorry!” immediately, I was overwhelmed with a foreboding apprehension that Cherry might be dead. My friend eventually calmed down and recounted the whole episode of how Cherry had got lost; and the efforts she had put in to track her down, though still futile. As I listened, while worrying about Cherry, I also felt sorry that my friend had to go through all these ordeals because of my dog. To put it simply, early that morning, her helper opened the door to do cleaning and failed to keep an eye on Cherry, she escaped. It was only after few hours later when the family woke up that they realized Cherry was lost. She reassured me that a street cleaner saw Cherry being picked up by a driver of a white car. But still, a plethora of possible scenarios filled by mind: would this person keep Cherry as she is a lovely mini-dachshund? Was Cherry captured by an illegal dog trader? Would I be able to see Cherry again? My spirit would not be settled.
Hours later, I spotted a message from my Instagram, an unknown online friend showed me a picture of Cherry sitting on someone’s front seat, and asked me if I had lost my dog. This person even knows her name is Cherry. Let me supply some backgrounds here: I constantly posted Cherry’s photos on IG, but I was surprised that an unknown follower of mine could recognize her and even remember her name! I couldn’t help marveling at the power of the mass media. Getting connected with the driver of the white car was another long story, and he refused to let my friend Amy (blamed for being irresponsible) or any of my relatives claim Cherry back, insisting that he would only return Cherry to me. Another portentous trepidation surged: would this guy blackmail me, demanding an exorbitant amount for Cherry? Yet My husband and I resolved to pay the ransom.
I returned to Hong Kong on 1 January 2023. The moment we were cleared from the airport, we rushed to fetch Cherry. I had also invited my friend and her children to go along. It turned out that this man who had saved Cherry is an extremely kind-hearted person. He saw Cherry running dangerously on a busy road and almost got killed by the moving traffic, stopped his car and picked her up. He came with his wife and two young daughters, and thanked us for the joy Cherry had brought them. I offered to pay for the expenses they spent on Cherry, they kindly but persistently declined.
Cherry rushing aimlessly in the middle of busy traffic
It has been almost 3 weeks since Cherry’s episode. I have been relating the incident every time when I met my friends, and even to the Sunday school children, and everyone gapped at the impossible reunion. Only God could work this miracle. Jonah 4:11 keeps reverberating in my mind: And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” Cherry was lost but she was found because our Lord is a compassionate God. For the first time, I could truly share the joy when the owner found his lost sheep, the woman found her lost coin, and the father seeing his lost son return. The Lord also restores my friend and her children, taking away their burden of having lost someone’s dog.
Like the lost dog we all wander from our Father’s love, but God is gracious and compassionate, He repeatedly assures me that He loves me, and also the many animals that He has created.
I couldn’t read the Bible. I tried many different Bibles over a long long period of time. I just didn’t understand what I was reading. Taking Bible studies helped but nothing helped me as much as BSF. I just needed to learn how to read the Bible. The depth that BSF goes into and the different ways each lesson is presented has made a remarkable difference to me. I cannot believe how much easier it is for me to read and understand the Word.
Beginning in October, 2022. my Granddaughter was diagnosed with a sinus infection, then an inner ear infection. She was admitted to the Childrens’ Hospital and we acknowledged that God had gone before us, sent an ENT Pediatric Specialist who is now her Doctor. After surgery, she was put on medication and had tubes placed in both ears. She had an issue with a bone pressing on a nerve behind one of her ears which was causing an issue with one side of her face. She was cleared of Bel Palsy; to make a long story short, the sinus infection cleared up, but there was ongoing problems with her ears. She was referred to a local Specialist and even flew to Boston for a consultation with the leading Specialist here. The Family was in CONSTANT PRAYER with God for His Power, Presence and Protection during this difficult time. After getting new tubes placed in her ears two weeks ago, the follow up visit cleared her for resuming her day to day activities-doing cart wheels, etc. She never lost her JOY as the Family continued to Praise God for HIS FAITHFULNESS to us. As we continue to TRUST Him to never leave us, we cling to Him as He holds us in the palms of His unchanging hands. PRAISING & REJOICING!!!
I foumd that BSF Buble study has become a life line for me. The Ladies have shown me kindness and that I am not alone, even when I am alone. The study group has proven to be helpful way to get closer to the Lord. My Leader has a great outlook and has everyone in mind. I have to become a believer in alot of things. Thank You for being there for
I had taken an early retirement in December 2011 and my cousin told me about BSF. Since I had time during the day, I decided to join in January 2012. I was curious about the Bible because my denomination did not encourage reading the Bible on your own. To me, the Bible was a book of mystery. I remember hearing for the first time that if I had been the only sinner in the world, Jesus would still have died for me. My participation in BSF the last 10 years has led me to a personal relationship with Jesus and His Father. I was baptized by immersion in 2019 at the age of 72, so it’s never too late to discover the love of Jesus. He was patiently waiting for me to acknowledge Him as my Lord and Savior and was ready to scoop me up into His loving arms.
Way back forever ago, when I returned home from the mission field, my sister told me about BSF, because her Christian friend had shared with her and she knew I was a Jesus freak too… little did she know I would serve with BSF for years and years and years, in multiple states and countries! BSF has been my family as my husband and I have moved again and again over our 30 years of marriage. God has proven He is intimate, personal, faithful, trustworthy, and powerful in the studies I have repeated again and again throughout my years in BSF. What a blessing to have such intimate relationships with ladies all over the world because of serving our awesome God together in BSF!!
Athy – such a beautiful testimony. Thank you for sharing!
Around five years into studying God’s Word with BSF, one of the lesson questions made me think about what would happen in my life if everything I believed turned out to not be real. It honestly stunned me to recognize that God’s Word had become so central to my thinking, that I would positively have no idea who I was or how to live if God’s Word was not true. That was the work of God in my life through BSF.
My journey began in 1992 when my children were toddlers. Quickly, the study and the fellowship with my discussion group members became a great source of joy and encouragement as we listened together to what God was teaching us from our study. After several years, for a variety of reasons, I had to take a time away from BSF. I felt the loss keenly, but I just could not get to a physical in-person class. So when I heard that BSF now had some classes with online satellite groups, I searched for one that fit my schedule. Some people hve complained during Covid that online groups felt cold and distant. I have not found that to be tru and refreshing. I have now attended BSFonline for 5 years. There are a core of women who have been together from the beginning, but others have joined us along the way as our group has grown. Currently our discussion group, which is predominantly from the USA, has been blessed and enriched with four women from Kenya, Uganda, and India. Being online, most of us have never met in person, yet our our time together each week is warm , loving, gracious, and sweet. We have often tried to envison meeting one another in person. Then God made it happen! He gifted some of us who live in the same region with a chance to meet our sister from Uganda face to face! The time together was one of such sweet fellowship. We could hardly contain ourselves as joy welled up and overflowed in abundance. In our minds the meeting was not only improbable, but beyond our wildest imagninations. As we shared our lives, what God was teaching us, and how we were being led in His service, the Spirit wrapped us up in deep love for Him and one another. We learned that as sisters in faith across the globe, we are far more alike than different. Our worries in life, work, and family are the same. Our cultures may be vastly different, but walking the Word of God is not constrained by those differences.
With all of the world’s division, nationalism, discord and even war, BSFonline has made it possible to break down cultural and physical barriers, build unity in the Body of Christ around the world, and advance God’s Kingdom purpose as we love and encourage one another. What a beautiful, surprise gift!
And what a beautiful testimony!
Due to Injuries and subsequent loss of vision and a totalled auto, I found a way to STILL participate in my beloved BSF, by finding an on- line class. We studied together, in the same group, for three years. The warmth and caring for each other was a saving grace, all through CoVID.
Now, one of the women in that group drives me to my BSF classes. She and her 3 kids and wonderful Godly husband have become my surrogate family. God gave me the grandchildren I’m unable to have.
I LOVE BSF!!.
My BSF story began in 1968 when I was 25 years old. A friend invited me to attend so I went. I was a church goer but had never studied the Bible. One day when I was studying at my dining room table I read Colossians 3:18 which said “Wives fit into your husband’s plans, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” That verse opened my eyes to my sin & at that moment I realized I was on my way to hell apart from Christ; So I knelt by my bed, poured my heart out to God confessing my sin & asked the Lord to come in & take over my life because I had made a mess of it. He did & I became a new creation. The next year I was asked to be a discussion leader. In leader’s meeting I learned to pray. My husband saw an immediate change in me so when we were to move 3 years later he asked me if I could make it without BSF? I said yes because it was the Lord I worship & He will go with us. For 8 years I went to other Bible Studies but nothing fed me like BSF. It was then that the Lord led me to begin a BSF class in the High Desert of Southern Calif…. With much encouragement the Lord called me to be the Teaching Leader of that class for 15 years . In 1997 the Lord led me out & passed the class to a very dear friend & sister in the Lord. Through the training in BSF I have been able to teach senior ladies Sunday School Class, go on several short term mission trips & lead other ladies to a deeper relationship with Christ, & being a group leader in BSF for nearly 40 years. Oh how I love Jesus & this wonderful way He has led me through BSF to know Him better as I study His Word every day. I am knocking at the door of 80 now & it seems like He is leading me out of leadership but I will continue to study His Word through BSF as long as I am able & encourage others to study also. Thank the Lord for all that He is doing around the world through the study of God’s Word in Bible Study Fellowship.
I’m really impressed by your personal story, really appreciate your encouraging sharings. 😁
BSF has enabled me to overcome the lie that a woman who has divorce, past sin, regret, loss, and failed dreams is not worthy to serve God. BSF has enabled me to face the truth that I am a sinner, but because of Jesus and my belief in Jesus and my wholehearted repentance and remorse for my sins that I am more than capable of serving others. BSF is a gift from God. It is a gift that keeps giving, and it is to be shared with all. BSF is for everyone.
I have really enjoyed being a part of BSF. It is the best Bible study!
It gives me motivation to study different references and study Bible to answer questions, and share it with others who has missed a point. We have good participation in our group and we enjoy the discussion
I grew up in church. I think I’ve always believed that the Bible is true and God is real and that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world. I knew much about the Bible, about God, and His Word. I was moral. I considered myself a Christian.
At a Christian college, I met my future husband. He had never heard the name of Jesus until in High School, someone invited him to a high school church musical where he was genuinely changed. He believed I was a Christian and we were married & joined a Bible Believing church. After 10 years of teaching school and 3 children during that time, he suggested I stay home with them for a year. That year became 15 years. While they were preschoolers, I heard of a Bible Study meeting in our church. But I thought you had to be invited. I had kept a friend’s child while she attended fellowship. I asked her all about it, but she never invited me.
God’s timing is clear and perfect. One weekend 3 friends from my church invited me to a Welcome class. I went, but it took a while to get my little ones into the Children’s program. I thought they didn’t like me. But God used it to keep my interest in BSF. Finally in His time, I got the call.
As I went, I loved the people, the fellowship and God began to work in me. After 2 years, my life was changing. However, Satan worked on me too. I became prideful about all I was learning. And I fell into sin. I tried to stop, but it was impossible. I couldn’t get up. But God held me and convicted me each week at BSF. As my 3rd year began, He had me in the study of John. I remember reading, “ So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36. I prayed, “God, how can that be? I don’t feel free! All I see are rules & rules and I can’t obey any of them! Where is the power you’ve promised?”
By Spring break, I was a mess. God had shown me I was a sinner. I hated the sin. That week, we would not have BSF, but we would be studying John 17 the next week. It was the first year for my teaching leader after a long time teaching leader had led our class. She told us to spend every day those 2 weeks reading John 17 and showed us how to personalize it by putting our name in there as if Jesus was talking to God personally about me. I did that. And at some point was overwhelmed by God’s personal love for me. I became His child and convinced that He was my Lord & Savior. I changed. Everything changed. I mailed the TL a letter to encourage her about how God was using her so powerfully. Several weeks later, I was contacted about leadership. I had prayed that I would never be contacted unless it was His call. I said yes and was a Group Leader for 10 years. God powerfully grew me and then I had to leave to return to work so our children could attend college. After 3 jobs and God’s beautiful hand leading, I looked for A BSF class & found an evening class close to my job. I went in incognito and loved my group, but was called to be a CL. I served 16+ years there, and marveled at how dependent I had to be in that role. 3 months ago my company closed and I retired. Now I’ve come full circle and am a day class member, still learning of His mercy!
That’s my story.
(Feel free to edit & shorten.)