Being Available to Christ

Being Available to Christ

Being Available to Christ

By Susie Rowan – Outgoing BSF Executive Director

When I was a young believer, a man handed me a small card at a church potluck (when we still had those). All it said was, “Ask simply to be used.”

The man was a mattress salesman. There was nothing special about his appearance or his pedigree. Yet his impact for the glory of God is still rippling years after his death. His funeral was attended by nearly a thousand people, and notable Christian leaders told stories about his love for God and influence on others. I carried that card with me in my wallet for years, and even after it was lost, the Spirit continued to bring that phrase to mind: “Ask simply to be used.”

Today, God is using that little card and its simple words once again. It translates to me as “Be available.” I pray, “Lord, I am available for your service today. How would you like to use me?” As I listen for God’s voice and watch how He orchestrates my day, He reminds me of the availability of Jesus. 

Christ is Available to Us

In this year’s Matthew study, we will behold the unexpected availability of Jesus. 

God sent His one and only Son to us. Jesus willingly left heaven to come for us. A virgin conceived and gave birth to a Son, whom we call Immanuel, “God with us.” The Almighty God of heaven and earth put on flesh to become available to us, to offer eternal salvation and a reconciled relationship with Him. 

And throughout Matthew’s Gospel, we will see Jesus’ availability to the needs of those who humbly sought Him. Jesus was available when the crowds needed food (Matthew 14:13-21). He was available when the people needed healing (Matthew 4:23-25). Most importantly, He sacrificed all to make forgiveness and redemption available to us. And now Jesus’ availability continues forever. For He did not leave us as orphans when He ascended into Heaven but rather increased His availability by sending His Spirit to dwell in His believers and walk with us through life. Just as He promised the disciples and us, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

In response, Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, and many others left behind their fishing nets, boats and former lives to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22) and live every day available to be His hands and feet in the world.

Are We Available to Christ?

This is a recurring theme throughout the Bible. Those who know and follow Christ make themselves available to Him. Isaiah recognized the risen Christ on the throne and said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8 and John 12:41). Ananias, in a vision, was told by Jesus to lay down his plans to restore a man named Saul, also called Paul, for ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 9:10-19). In both instances, Isaiah and Ananias made themselves available to Jesus for an unexpected and risky assignment.

Many of you have very full plates. You are swamped with responsibilities – demanding work hours, caring for aging parents, raising a houseful of children, providing for loved ones, and more. Daily, you sacrificially become available to your family, employer, ministry, and so much more. Yet there are still times when we will be called to adjust our plans to the unexpected needs of friends, co-workers, or unforeseen assignments from the Lord. Often this means putting aside our own convenience to get involved. Sometimes this means taking a risk. 

There are other seasons of life when heavy loads of responsibility are lifted. A new city, a lost job, a child getting married, a big hole in your schedule. 

Here I Am, Lord

Last month I enjoyed lunch with a friend and former BSF Teaching Leader. We talked about her adjustment to a life with little responsibility after a move. She left behind her former home and teaching role within a BSF class. And the Lord made it clear she was not to jump into anything new. It was a season of quiet and waiting. It was a lonely season. Yet it became a refreshing season that led to a new assignment from the Lord. 

Today, I find myself in a new season, transitioning from a place of weighty responsibility to a stage of real availability. As I now retire from BSF, there is a big hole in my daily life. My temptation is to rush to fill it. But the Lord has spoken these words to me, “Be available.” “Ask simply to be used.” And good friends have counseled me, “Don’t take on too much too soon.” Rather than filling the hole in my schedule, I sense the Lord wants me to be available to see what He is about to do with each new week ahead.  

Is there a family need?  

Does a friend need help?  

Is someone sick who needs food?  

Is there a new assignment? Will it involve risk, a change of plans, a new direction?  

For now, being available to God is enough. Jesus is with me. He has redeemed me. He has filled me with His Spirit. So, I will continue to serve Him with spiritual fervor and zeal to make disciples of all nations. Whatever it looks like, I will be available to my Savior. For a short time, I expect to serve Him in quiet, with a focus on family. I will serve Christ’s Church as a seminary board member and in my local church. And in time, I hope to explore some teaching, writing, and mentoring as the Lord gives opportunity. 

But – bottom line – whether our schedules are full, open, or anywhere in between, being available to God is our worshipful response to His constant availability to us. 

If we ask “Lord, how do you want to use me today?” we might find our Kingdom impact to be like an ordinary mattress salesman who asked, “simply to be used.”

Susie Rowan

BSF Executive Director

Under Susie’s leadership as executive director, BSF membership has grown to serve more than 385,000 adults and 66,000 children worldwide, and the ministry has introduced BSF Online and WordGo Bible study platforms, and four new studies – IsaiahRevelation, and People of the Promised Land I and II (Part II coming in 2022). Susie and her husband, Roger, have been married for 45 years and have two children, Jerry and Sally, and four grandchildren.

 

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AP/Class Staff Bulletin

August 2021

Excitement Building Around BSF 2.0

Excitement is building around the transition of data from class.bsfinternational to BSF 2.0. This new system will provide you with

  • user access through Mybsf.org
  • online registration and ongoing member/user record management
  • access to a resource library for members, class leadership and AP

CAs and ALs managing class data will find the new system much more intuitive, streamlined and easier to navigate, too! Training and resources will be available for the upcoming launch in early December.

The database transition will take place during a two-week pause prior to the launch. Stay tuned for more information and some terrific ways your class can support this transition through data verification once the data migration is completed. We appreciate your support and prayers for this ongoing effort!

Happening Soon

  • TL Orientation: August 22-25 (online)
    • Application Deadline: July 23

Prayer Requests

  • That leaders will connect deeply with one another during Summit
  • That God will be magnified and leaders matured as Summit spurs them on to perseverance with Jesus
  • That leaders around the globe will be united, inspired and mobilized through the Summit
  • That God will provide for every class or area desiring and able to hold an in-person Summit
  • That God will give joy to every leader as they praise Him and learn from Him through the Summit

Need to Know

To stay updated, please read all headings relevant to your class.

Clarification on Sending GL Placement Info

We heard you, CAs! Here is clarification on ways to send the GL Placement Info to GLs! (This also applies to sending any CM information containing Personally Identifying Information (PII)):

SUGGESTED COMMUNICATION OPTIONS FOR SHARING DISCUSSION GROUP PLACEMENT INFORMATION:

  • Use an Instant Messaging (IM) tool that has end-to-end encryption and requires a sign-in, such as WhatsApp, Slack, or Zoom Chat. Email does not meet these requirements.
  • Email a document that has been encrypted/password-protected
  • Share a link using a cloud storage service that requires the recipient to sign-in, such as iCloud, Gmail, Dropbox, or OneDrive
  • Text or phone call

Check your Class Staff Downloads for this information on Member Communication Update — for clarification on how to send GL Placement information to GLs while protecting Class Member PII.

Summit Website

Provide the following link to your class leaders during your Summit: https://bsfblog.org/summit-2021/ (password: Summit).

The website also includes a survey for leaders to complete. Please ask leaders to complete the survey no more than a week after your scheduled Summit.

Summit Childcare Provision

As a provision for this year’s unique Summit, classes may have childcare at their local class Summit if:

  • childcare provided at the Summit follows the protocols for Leader’s Meeting childcare described in the Staff Core Module
  • there is no reimbursement for childcare
  • classes follow their government regulations on COVID-19 guidelines

Training for Class Staff with a Break in Service

Previously trained Class Staff who are removed from their role in the database and later re-instated in the same role may receive an automated invitation to MyBSF Learning.  It is optional for these class staff members to repeat their training.

If the class staff member was trained more than 3 years in the past, HQ suggests they refresh their training in MyBSF Learning.

MyBSF Learning

AP and Class Staff Assistance NEEDED Identifying:

  • Any New CSs Leading a Children’s Program in SDG (currently designated as an Asst. CS)

For new CSs leading a Children’s Program in a SDG AND identified as an Asst. CS in the database: submit the New CS in SDG form.  CSs submitted on the form will be invited to MyBSF Learning.

For other new class staff including new CSs serving in base classes:  submit a G110 Notice (located on Class Staff website homepages).  The G110 Notice will ensure the CS is properly updated in the database and invited to MyBSF Learning.

NOTE: Please allow two weeks from the date of submission for the CS to receive a welcome email from MyBSF Learning.

School Program Redesign Update

The School Program is undergoing a redesign. You are invited to come along the journey to launch Fall 2022. Watch for monthly updates through the Bulletin, blogs, and Global SP CS Zoom meetings.

ASL Prayer Group

Do you have a loved one, co-worker or friend who would benefit from an American Sign Language (ASL) Discussion Group using BSF materials? Join us in prayer! At this time, all women are invited to join the BSF ASL Prayer Group. Pray for a Men’s ASL Prayer Group to form in the future. Membership in BSF or experience with ASL or Deaf/Hard of Hearing are not required. The group meets monthly on Sunday evenings at 6:00 CT USA time for a 1-hour Zoom prayer session. Both spoken and signed languages are offered. Please contact Amanda Elgert at hahkstar@yahoo.com to join the ASL Prayer Group as we pray for passionate commitment to Christ, His Word, and His Church through the Deaf/ Hard of Hearing communities of the world!

BSF is Hiring!

Please check the BSF public website for information regarding several positions that we are currently seeking to fill, specifically a Men’s Trainer, International Controller and Editorial Specialist contractor. Please share this information with your class leaders or anyone you think might have an interest. Thank you!

MyBSF Learning Training for New D-AOTs in New D-OLMs

For new D-AOTs serving in a new D-OLM with a D-OT scheduled to attend August Orientation:  Provide your RD with the name and email address of the D-AOT. For D-OTs trained in the August Orientation, all identified D-AOTs have been invited to MyBSF Learning.  If a D-AOT has not yet received their welcome email to access MyBSF Learning, please ask them to check their email spam/junk folder.  If the invitation is not located, send an email to learning@bsfinternational.org with the D-AOTs name and email address.

For new D-AOTs serving in an existing D-OLM: submit a G110 Notice (located on Class Staff website Home pages).

Filling Class Staff Roles

God calls certain ones to take on the role of Class Staff.  AP and OAP work together to fill these important roles in BSF and BSF Online.

  • Connect over Group Chat (Slack, WhatsApp), Email (see AP Directory) or Zoom
  • Discuss recommendations and whether an observation is needed.
  • Decide who will submit the vetting form in Podio for TLs, STLs, OTs and D-OTs.
  • Podio will route the vetting form to the correct RD according to position and area.
  • Interviews are conducted by the “receiving” AP/OAP
  • For other staff positions a recommendation is discussed with the “receiving” TL/OT/D-OT.
  • AP and OAP interview AOTs but decide how to proceed with other staff positions.

Thank for your collaborative work as we pray for these staff positions to be filled!

2021 Fiscal Year-End Expense Reports for All AP

All U.S. and International AP are asked to file a fiscal year-end expense report in August, if you have not already done so.

International AP who received AA Remittances (class funds) during the break should report the receipts even if there were no expenses.

Do not include any September expenses or receipts on this fiscal year-end August report.

2021-2022 International Area Team Expenses

Please file expense reports for all expenses incurred this fiscal year (Sept. 1, 2020 through Aug. 31, 2021) on your current International Area Team Expense Report  (AT 301a-INTL)form. Please email (IntlFinance@bsfinternational.org) reports to the International Finance Team by Sept. 5.

If you physically receive funds (AA Remittances) from your classes (and provide an F105 receipt) after Aug. 31, please wait until you receive your REVISED 2021-2022 International Area Team Expense Report (AT 301a-INTL) template which will include new foreign currency exchange rates before filing your September AT Expense Report. The new rate is available to HQ on Sept. 1.

Pennington Clips

We will share theologian clips on social media.  Here is what we will share.

(More info coming soon.)

Important! Update Class Meeting Day and Time

Be sure  the Class Meeting Day and Meeting Time in your Class Calendar match the day and time appearing in Class Info (in class.bsf) and on Find-a-Group (on www.bsfinternational.org.) If they do not match, submit a G 110 Class Change Notice with the correct information to ensure accessibility to prospective members to your class! (Illustrative document)

August Monthly Financial Report Required

  • All classes submit an August Monthly Financial Report (F 107-USA or INTL) for any summer activity – including any class bank account activity and Summit-related income or expenses received during the break.
  • Confirm your retained balance on 31 August (BSF’s year-end) is accurate before beginning the new class year on Sept. 1. It should match your class bank account “ending balance” on 31 August.
  • Classes ouside the US: if you do not have a class account, your August Retained Balance should only reflect the “actual” amount of BSF funds you have in your physical possession on 31 August.
  • If there has been no financial activity during the break, kindly submit a $0.00 activity report for fiscal year-end purposes.

Creating a Children’s Program Email Address

The Children’s Program uses email to communicate with RAs, set up Google Classrooms, and to send and receive forms. Instead of using a personal email for BSF purposes, it is recommended that each CS create a recognizable email account with a strong password and share this account with the Asst CS and CA to be used for all Children’s Program communications.

If you are a new class or have not yet created a class email, click HERE to create a Gmail account. (NOTE: Do not use this email in any leader member registration.)

Example Account:

  • First Name: BSFSchool
  • Last Name: Supervisor
  • Username: MauiBSFSchoolPrgEM@gmail.com

Create a username that creatively includes BSF, your class location, and program in any order. You may also include your class number. You want parents to recognize this username as coming from their BSF class.

  • Password: Create a STRONG password. Do not use John3:16 or other easily hacked passwords.

Important Announcement About I104b and VPC

In preparation for the transition to BSF 2.0,  Parental Permissions  (I104b) with a signature date prior to 3/1/2021 must be updated for the Matthew study year.  Parental Permissions  (I104b) may be collected:

  • digitally using the new CP Digital Forms Package found in the Matthew Starter Guide in the Matthew Resources
  • in person using the paper I 104b forms in the Class Forms Book

For returning students in an online School Program, make sure the Placement Comments contain the date the VPC was signed. Do not change the date in the Placement Comment, but update the I104b date to 8/1/2021. Do not obtain a new VPC nor a Parental Permission (I104b), simply update the date. If you do not update this date field, students attending online who are not registered with a parent/guardian will be inactivated during the transition to BSF 2.0.

Join the CA Facebook Page!

To Join the CA Facebook page to enjoy the support of other CAs through collaborative sharing and assistance:

Send a friend request to Joni Dunlap (California Baptist University), and then message her with your class info (city and class type).

Creating a Children’s Program Email Address

The Children’s Program uses email to communicate with RAs, set up Google Classrooms, and to send and receive forms. Instead of using a personal email for BSF purposes, it is recommended that each CS create a recognizable email account with a strong password and share this account with the Asst CS and CA to be used for all Children’s Program communications.

If you are a new class or have not yet created a class email, click HERE to create a Gmail account. (NOTE: Do not use this email in any leader member registration.)

Example Account:

  • First Name: BSFSchool
  • Last Name: Supervisor
  • Username: MauiBSFSchoolPrgEM@gmail.com

Create a username that creatively includes BSF, your class location, and program in any order. You may also include your class number. You want parents to recognize this username as coming from their BSF class.

  • Password: Create a STRONG password. Do not use John3:16 or other easily hacked passwords.

Important Announcement About I104b and VPC

In preparation for the transition to BSF 2.0,  Parental Permissions  (I104b) with a signature date prior to 3/1/2021 must be updated for the Matthew study year.  Parental Permissions  (I104b) may be collected:

For returning students in an online School Program, make sure the Placement Comments contain the date the VPC was signed. Do not change the date in the Placement Comment, but update the I104b date to 8/1/2021. Do not obtain a new VPC nor a Parental Permission (I104b), simply update the date. If you do not update this date field, students attending online who are not registered with a parent/guardian will be inactivated during the transition to BSF 2.0.

School Program Zoom Licenses

Does your School Program have five or more classes meeting online? If so, you may be eligible for additional Zoom licenses. To request additional licenses, please complete this form by August 31, 2021. Licenses are limited and will be distributed on a basis of need.

Important! Update Class Meeting Day and Time

Be sure  the Class Meeting Day and Meeting Time in your Class Calendar match the day and time appearing in Class Info (in class.bsf) and on Find a Group (on www.bsfinternational.org.) If they do not match, submit a G 110 Class Change Notice with the correct information to ensure accessibility to prospective members to your class! (Link out to illustrative document)

Summit Website

Provide the following link to your class leaders during your Summit: https://bsfblog.org/summit-2021/ (password: Summit).

The website also includes a survey for leaders to complete. Please ask leaders to complete the survey no more than a week after your scheduled Summit.

ASL Prayer Group

Do you have a loved one, co-worker or friend who would benefit from an American Sign Language (ASL) Discussion Group using BSF materials? Join us in prayer! At this time, all women are invited to join the BSF ASL Prayer Group. Pray for a Men’s ASL Prayer Group to form in the future. Membership in BSF or experience with ASL or Deaf/Hard of Hearing are not required. The group meets monthly on Sunday evenings at 6:00 CT USA time for a 1-hour Zoom prayer session. Both spoken and signed languages are offered. Please contact Amanda Elgert at hahkstar@yahoo.com to join the ASL Prayer Group as we pray for passionate commitment to Christ, His Word, and His Church through the Deaf/ Hard of Hearing communities of the world!

BSF is Hiring!

Please check the BSF public website for information regarding several positions that we are currently seeking to fill, specifically a Men’s Trainer, International Controller and Editorial Specialist contractor. Please share this information with your class leaders or anyone you think might have an interest. Thank you!

Media Resources and Social Media Resources

Filling Class Staff Roles

God calls certain ones to take on the role of Class Staff.  AP and OAP work together to fill these important roles in BSF and BSF Online.

  • Connect over Group Chat (Slack, WhatsApp), Email (see AP Directory) or Zoom
  • Discuss recommendations and whether an observation is needed.
  • Decide who will submit the vetting form in Podio for TLs, STLs, OTs and D-OTs.
  • Podio will route the vetting form to the correct RD according to position and area.
  • Interviews are conducted by the “receiving” AP/OAP
  • For other staff positions a recommendation is discussed with the “receiving” TL/OT/D-OT.
  • AP and OAP interview AOTs but decide how to proceed with other staff positions.

Thank for your collaborative work as we pray for these staff positions to be filled!

You are up to date and doing great work!

Tips

How are Online Group leaders recommended for the Matthew study?

For BSF classes meeting online or in-person

  • Click the Recommend an Online GL link on the TL home page and use our guest login:

For BSF Online

  • Click Apply and Recommend on the Navigation menu in the BSF Online website.
  • Complete the Recommendation form and submit.
  • Help an online group leader who would like to move to a BSF Local class or Local online group, by by connecting them to the new class.  Please help to find a replacement OGL for the group before moving them.  

Getting started on the dashboards

As you start the new class year, we encourage you to watch the Quick Start Dashboard video in your media player to know what to look for in the beginning weeks of class.

What’s new?

  • The “Class at a Glance” dashboard now includes the number of children enrolled by level in the SP and/or Infant and Toddler program. To get to the “Class at a Glance” dashboard, go to your “Area at a Glance” dashboard and go to the “Detailed Table by Class” widget at the bottom, then “jump to” a specific class by clicking anywhere on the blue values for the class you are interested in.

How do members Find a Group for the Matthew Study?

For BSF local class, local online group or children’s program go to: www.bsfinternational.org and click Find A Group.  New members can contact the class or group in their area to join!

For a BSF Online group go to:  www.bsfonline.org and click Find A Group.  New members choose to join a group based on the day and time that works for them!

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Responding to the Creator’s Creativity

Responding to the Creator’s Creativity

Responding to Our Creator’s Creativity

By Bryan Belknap – BSF Creative Director

When we think of Old Testament heroes of the faith, the usual names come to mind:  

Moses. 

Abraham. 

Ruth. 

David. 

But none of these well-known pillars of faith was the first recorded person in the Bible to receive the Spirit of God. That honor belongs to … (drumroll) …  

Bezalel. 

That’s right. Bezalel — the one so crafty with wood, jewels, and gold — was filled with God’s Spirit in Exodus 31:3 to serve as chief designer and interior decorator of the Tabernacle.  

Wait, what? He received God’s Spirit to do arts and crafts and not write Scripture or lead an army into the Promised Land?! 

Exactly.  

While we might be tempted to think God has more important things to consider than color patterns and furniture arrangements, Scripture reveals He does, indeed, care deeply about artistry and aesthetics. 

Creation

We recently studied God’s orderly creation of the universe in Genesis. Not only did God take great care to put everything in its proper place, He also made our incredible world beautiful. He placed a soothing blue sky over green forests and fields. He did not make vast fiery red or orange oceans, knowing those colors tend to make human beings anxious and angry. It’s doubtful a human would have thought “a vast ocean of gritty sand would be lovely,” but anyone who has watched sunlight and shadows dance across endless waves of desert sand knows our Creator is incredibly creative indeed. 

Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” God uses the beauty of creation to draw people to Himself, just like the Tabernacle was artfully designed by God’s Spirit working in Bezalel to point the Israelites to Him. 

Made in the image of God

Genesis 1:27 states: 

So God created mankind in his own image, 
    in the image of God he created them; 
    male and female he created them. 

While this glorious, mysterious, incredible truth definitely speaks to our intrinsic value and special place amongst all of creation, it also has practical implications. As image bearers, we share certain qualities with our creator God.  

Human beings are unique in nature in that we can imagine something and then turn that thought into reality. Although we can’t speak something into existence out of nothing like God, He does still call us to use our God-given creativity to reflect His beauty on earth.

Reflections of Christ

As we prepare for our study of Matthew, we see the creativity of the Father embodied in His Son. Paul tells us in Colossians 1:15-16 “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” 

And we are told in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” 

So how can we, as believers, follow Christ’s example in creativity? 

You might be tempted to stop right here with protests of not being creative. “I don’t paint or act or sing!” But consider the creativity our Savior displayed during His ministry on earth; you might recognize some of these in your own life. 

In labor 

While we don’t have any examples of Jesus’ handiwork, Mark 6:3 states Jesus was known in his hometown by his trade, carpentry. (Can you imagine how expensive one of His tables would be at an auction today?!?) This meant He could look at a piece of wood, picture what He wanted the hunk of pine to become, then turn His imagination into a reality. Physical labor, whether its gardening or construction, can be an act of worship and creativity. 

In words

Jesus took deep, unseen spiritual realities and placed them within concrete stories His audience could grasp. Whether it’s the boundless love of God as presented in The Prodigal Son or a vivid picture of our hard-heartedness in the face of God’s lavish forgiveness in The Unforgiving Servant, Jesus created practical methods for presenting the spiritual. No, Jesus doesn’t expect all of His children to be writers, but He does call us to share our personal stories of being transformed by Him. And His gift for storytelling challenges us to try to put the unseen spiritual matters of faith into words a seeker might understand when we have the opportunity. 

In works 

Jesus’ miracles showcase His tremendous creativity. He healed blindness with a word (Luke 18:35), a touch (Matthew 9:29), and mud made from spit (John 9:6-7). The physical actions of His miracles also made spiritual points. So, while you might not be turning water into wine, you mimic the work of our Lord when you minister to the weak, outcast, or suffering. When you point them to the spiritual reality of a loving God who sees and loves them, you are reflecting Christ’s wonderful creativity in His ministry.  

So how will you respond in labor, words, or works? How might God be calling you to creatively use your unique gifts for His glory? 

BSF Art Galleries

One way we at BSF Headquarters have responded is by creating BSF Galleries that connect to our studies. We are not looking to create photorealistic pictures of Scripture (because no one knows exactly what biblical events looked like). Rather, we wanted artistic expressions inspired by God’s Word. That is why we asked professional artists in the BSF family from around the world to read, meditate upon and pray over their chosen passage.  

Then they worked. They created. They produced what you ultimately see displayed in the gallery. 

Like in the previous Genesis study, the works in the new Matthew gallery are meant to be expressions of worship that inspire worship in others. The artwork is not meant to be viewed literally or to take the place of reading Scripture. They are one person’s perspective – potentially from a radically different cultural context than your own – sharing how God spoke to them through His Word. 

Most of you share in your discussion group how God speaks to you by using words. These artists are doing the same thing through a visual medium. 

Our hope is the art galleries will first and foremost glorify God. Our prayer is they will drive you to worship and to see Scripture in a fresh way that breathes new life and meaning into stories you might have read a hundred times. 

The gallery also serves as a colorful example of how we are knit together into a beautiful tapestry with our brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world who see things from various cultural perspectives. Ultimately, that’s a wonderful, beautiful thing that can only be created by the Spirit of Almighty God. 

Matthew 28

By Ami Ross, USA

Bryan Belknap

BSF Creative Director

Bryan Belknap serves as Creative Director at BSF, leading a team of creative professionals designing the videos, marketing, social media, graphic design and events that serve, encourage and inspire Bible Study Fellowship’s members and leaders. Prior to joining BSF, Bryan was an award-winning screenwriter, producer and director working for companies as far-ranging as Group Publishing, LIONSGATE, Lifeway, SONY, and DreamWorks. Bryan, a second generation BSFer, and his wife Jill are both proudly watching their son continue the BSF tradition.

 

A Heart to Mentor

A Heart to Mentor

A Heart to Mentor

By Susie Rowan – BSF Executive Director

Each year, the BSF Board of Directors encourages the Executive Director to take a one-week sabbatical as a means to enjoy time and reflection with the Lord.  

This week is my sabbatical. 

Throughout this week, I’ve enjoyed long walks with the Lord.  

I’ve enjoyed moments of solitude with the Lord. 

I’ve enjoyed food and conversation with my family, to the glory of the Lord. 

And, perhaps because this year is my final year to serve as Executive Director of Bible Study Fellowship, I’ve found this week’s sabbatical rest to be particularly poignant.

A few weeks ago, I conducted a webinar for another organization on the topic of mentorship. Preparing for the webinar was a delight as I reflected on the past and present relationships that have marked my life so significantly. So many of those relationships were birthed in a BSF context. Now, this week, as I enjoy my final week of sabbatical rest, the Lord has continued to bring these relationships to mind. As I think back throughout my life and career, it is indeed true – we need one another. We need those who have gone before. And we need those who come behind.

Seasons to Grow

In my own life, I think of my grandfather. He was the first to intentionally invite me into his daily life. From the time I could walk, he invested in me. I went to his large corporate conferences and was introduced as a 7-year-old. A man nearly 60 years older than I was invited me to walk with him and to participate with him in his corporate life, even as a small child. This inspired me to lead.   

But there was more.   

My grandfather introduced me to Jesus. My grandparents were the primary Christian witness in my life for many years. I watched him lead as a businessman and worship as a believer.   

Then, when I was a young woman, my BSF Teaching Leader, Jacque Sanders, showed me the depth of commitment required to be a true Christ follower. She showed me the wisdom of patience and persistence in prayer. 

And when I was a missionary in Brazil, my BSF Area Advisor, Linda Hunt, taught me how to pursue others and love honestly without judgment.  

As Executive Director, a fellow board member, Bruce Smith, met me with kindness in mistakes, willingness to listen and wise council when needed. He showed me how to have difficult conversations with Christ as the center.  

And now, as I transition out of BSF leadership, I’ve sought council from my husband, Roger, board members Mark Bailey, Mike Duke and Garth Bolinder. In preparing for the future, executive coach Steve Graves and former business executives Ron DeLeenheer and John Duffy have shared their wisdom. 

I am also deeply grateful for my life-long friend, Sharon. Like many of the others, I met Sharon in a BSF class. Sharon is several years older than I am and gives great wisdom as we talk about marriage, grief, children, and grandchildren. She teaches me about aging gracefully. She is compassionate and creative. 

Each of these individuals has offered me wisdom, care, comfort, strength, and love – those same qualities they received as they have walked with Jesus through the years.  

But there are more.  

Seasons to Learn 

In 2017, Janie Stephens agreed to join the BSF staff as my Executive Assistant after we met at a BSF class in Dallas. Through the years, we have worked closely, and I have watched Janie grow professionally and spiritually. When she needed a formal “mentor” during her master’s degree program at Dallas Theological Seminary, Janie asked if I would fulfill the role. Janie learned not only from my successes but also through my failures because she was with me every step of the way.   

What began as a leadership relationship developed into a deep friendship. Though I’ve helped Janie through some difficult seasons, Janie has also taught me invaluable lessons about what it means to follow Christ.   

Through each of these relationships, I’m reminded of the joy-inducing gift of Christ-centered community. I have found that community in Bible Study Fellowship over the decades. Something unique happens in relationships centered around the Word of God. Ultimately, our goal in every friendship is to encourage one another to grow in Christlikeness, to look more like Jesus.   

Tethered Together

As I reflect on this concept, I recall an illustration from Melissa Kruger of The Gospel Coalition. In her book, Growing Together, Melissa recalls as a young girl watching her father work in the yard. On one particular day, Melissa’s father noticed a young thin tree in the yard bent over and suffering from the damaging effects of a recent storm. Melissa watched as her father took a rope and tethered the young tree to an older tree – one that was sturdy and strong. By tying the two trees together, Melissa’s father ensured the older tree could offer support and strength to the younger tree. 

The same is true for any mentoring relationship – a younger, less experienced individual is tethered to a more mature individual for a season so the younger individual might grow and develop.

With this in mind, take a moment to reflect on those God has use in your own life to guide and direct your steps toward Him.  

Hebrews 13:7 tells us, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the Word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way, and imitate their faith.” 

And finally, ask God to reveal specific opportunities where you can help others around you grow and develop. Where can you share your perseverance in hope and the wisdom you have gleaned?

It is indeed true – we need one another. I pray that through Bible Study Fellowship you might find opportunities such as these — opportunities to mentor and be mentored through close relationships that develop around the study of God’s Word in community.  

Susie Rowan

BSF Executive Director

Under Susie’s leadership as executive director, BSF membership has grown to serve more than 385,000 adults and 66,000 children worldwide, and the ministry has introduced BSF Online and WordGo Bible study platforms, and four new studies – IsaiahRevelation, and People of the Promised Land I and II (Part II coming in 2022). Susie and her husband, Roger, have been married for 45 years and have two children, Jerry and Sally, and four grandchildren.

 

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