Sharing in Our Brokenness

Sharing in Our Brokenness

Sharing in our brokenness

BY SANDY ALLEN & BENNETT ROLAN

S andy Allen was on her knees, begging God for a way out. As a long-time BSF teaching leader, she was steeped in God’s Word and committed to seeking Him in prayer.  

But Sandy knew her debilitating condition had returned, and she cried out to her Savior 

For months, she pushed through the fog. She would deliver her BSF lecture, then collapse at home in exhaustion.  

Pounding thoughts would suffocate her joy and desire for living.  

Life is just too hard.  

Nothing is worth it. 

Your life is worthless.  

The very part of what makes you youis worth nothing.”  

Years of Suffering

T wenty-five years earlier, Sandy was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. After medical treatment and therapy, she slowly recovered her personality and worked to restore her relationships 

“Over the years I faced the darkness many times,” Sandy said. “God has seen me through, and every time I thought, ‘Whew that is over. Surely it won’t come back again.’  

She was hopeful the battle was over. But those familiar thoughts returned in the fall of 2018 

“The scary part is that I couldn’t see it,” she said. “I thought I was fine until my depression started affecting others.” 

Recognizing the signs, Sandy sought professional help. Today, her relationship with God is stronger, and her faith is deeper. But Sandy’s journey to this point has been difficult 

“I thought everyone had those days when they hated their lives and wanted just to die when the living felt too hard to do,” Sandy said. People say things like,Tomorrow you will feel better, it’s just a rough patch, life can be hard sometimes.’ But I was overwhelmed and aching inside, without any real idea of how to make things better. But, boy, did I try.”  

“I was overwhelmed and aching inside, without any real idea of how to make things better. But boy, did I try.”

She tried vitamins, sleep, exercise, diet, caffeine, vacation, more work, less work. Even prayer, worship, church counsel and Bible study did not alleviate the growing depression and anxiety.   

Nothing changed the way I felt deep down, about myself and my life,” she said. Life was too hard, overwhelming. People seemed mean. I didn’t really want to do anything.   

Every day felt like I was walking through some sort of thick mud trudging along. The tears would fall, I would think, ‘What’s the point of this life – it seems to just get harder.’   

Finally, a compassionate friend said, “I think you might be depressed. After research and multiple doctor’s visits, Sandy accepted that she had a condition many of her BSF friends could not understand.  

But the God who created Sandy and knew her thoughts intimately met her in the despair.  

“I remember lying in bed,” Sandy said, “the tears falling, and crying out, Lord I know You are God, but You feel so far away. I need You close to help me though. And in the darkness, I sensed His presence, remembered His words that He would never leave me or forsake me,’ and I knew He would carry me through somehow.  

“I remember lying in bed,” Sandy said, “the tears falling and crying out, ‘Lord I know you are God, but you feel so far away. I need you close to help me through.’ “

After years of professional counseling, medical treatment and family support, Sandy feels compelled to share her story.  

And through her honesty, we can find freedom in sharing our own struggles and moments of brokenness. Together, we can celebrate God’s faithfulness, acknowledge our weaknesses and rely on one another as we seek Christ in a fallen world.  

Uniting in Trials

L ike Sandy, many of us face circumstances, diagnoses and difficult relationships that our BSF family may not understand. We walk into our BSF group each week feeling lonely and misunderstood, trying to hide the deep places that reveal our vulnerabilities 

But 2 Corinthians 12:9 promises God’s power “is made perfect in weakness.” And through our painful experiences, God strengthens the body of believers.  

“… So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26). 

Our study of Acts and Letters of the Apostles will bring our sin, shortcomings and pain to light. Instead of hiding these moments, we can encourage group members to share how God is working in the midst of those trials.  

The Power of Faithful Community

T o help us navigate these difficult topics and conversations, God’s Word gives wonderful insight into how the early Church pursued gospel-centered unity.  

They committed to study, fellowship and prayer.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42 

Which person in your group today needs your prayers, or who needs to know you are praying for them? How will you reach out to them this week?

They put others’ needs above their own.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 2:3-5 

Whose needs are your focus? How can you ask God to help you show someone else that they are valuable?  

They were quick to listen and slow to anger.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” – James 1:19-20 

Listening can be hard, but will you challenge yourself to ask more questions as you interact with those in your group?  

Unity was a common goal.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”Ephesians 4:2-6 

What can you do to demonstrate humility, patience and love in your relationships with others? 

They sought to forgive one another.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” – Colossians 3:13-14 

Who do you need to forgive, because the Lord has forgiven you? When will you take action to reach out and forgive?

 

Walking in the Valley

F or those who struggle with depression, or see another who is hurting, Sandy Allen shared some helpful thoughts from her experience.

God does not expect you and me to do everything.

Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’ ” Acts 6:3-4 

Sometimes our trials increase because we take on extra things. 

I love this truth: God’s plan is for His work to be divided among the body.  

When the anxiety increases, or the depression seems worse, allow yourself to let something go. Ask the Lord, ”What are those things you are asking me to do, and what can I stop for this tough season of my life?” 

Depression is a trial.

In all this you greatly rejoice,  though now for a little while  you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faithof greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by firemay result in praise, glory and honor  when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 

Depression,  anxiety and  living with a loved one who struggles with it is a trial. 

In every trial  there  is  an  opportunity for Christ to reveal Himself. Seeking Him in the hard times proves that our faith is real  and that  we know He is the one to turn to. 

And in these verses,  we have the promise  that  as our faith is refined,  our lives will bring praise and glory to Jesus. 

So God is at work in the present hard time. Your faith is being made stronger while living with depression or  with  a loved one who struggles. 

God’s purposes for you are prevailing. 

If you see someone struggling, reach out.

“While the man held on to Peter and John,  all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade.” Acts 3:11 

Who among you is hurting?  How can you,  through prayer and God’s compassion, reach out and give them a helping hand? Let them  hold onto you and  bring them to Jesus.  

Maybe ask: 

How  can  I  join you in prayer? 

What would encourage you? 

Can I give you a ride to BSF next week?  

Can I sit beside you during the lecture? 

Would you like to work on the questions together this week? 

When we notice someone is hurting, we do not have to fix them. That is God’s job. But we can be there, a place  to  hold onto,  in times of weakness. 

Acts and Letters of the Apostles is here!

Acts and Letters of the Apostles is here!

Acts and Letters of the Apostles is here!

BY TODD  WETHALL
BSF CHIEF MEDIA AND MATERIALS OFFICER

B ible Study Fellowship classes and discussion groups around the world are again opening God’s Word together as we begin the study of Acts and Letters of the Apostles. What a joy it is to draw closer to our Unstoppable God who has empowered us with His Unstoppable Spirit to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth.

What to expect 

A cts documents the infancy of the early Church from Jesus’ commissioning His apostles at His ascension through the explosion of Christianity in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth, which continues to this day.

Acts also reveals that the key to living a powerful, fruitful Christian life is to be continuously filled with the Holy Spirit. The gift and indwelling of the Spirit comes only through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. (See Acts 2.) Just as God was faithful to the early Christians as recorded in Acts and the epistles, He is faithful to modern Christians as well.

We’ve made some strategic improvements to Acts since we last studied it in 2011. Now 30 weeks instead of 32, we will take deeper dives into shorter passages. For example, Acts 3-7 now covers three lessons instead of only one, and 1 Corinthians covers four lessons instead of two.

Also, for anyone looking for a call to action, we’ve moved the epistle of James to the end of the study to close the year with a vision of what authentic Christianity looks like.

The 2013 redesign of all our study material made our lessons less daunting and more digestible. That’s why you may notice many of our Acts lesson notes are four or five pages, rather than the typical six. Though condensed, we have maintained deep, rich content as we desire to see members thoroughly engage in Scripture and mature as believers through Acts, 1 Corinthians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews, James and 1 Peter.

Tell your friends

T hose epistles have been strategically positioned as five “mini-studies” within the overall study year of Acts so you can invite a friend to class. (“Come to a four-week study of Hebrews!”) There’s no commitment beyond that, and we hope your friends will want to stick around for more after they have experienced Bible-centered community in your group

Anyone can find everything they need to know about BSF – including where to find a group – at bsfinternational.org.

Prayer on a global scale

S ince everything begins with prayer, we invite you to join us in praying throughout the year using the Unstoppable Prayer Guide (bsfprayer.org). These prayers of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication (A.C.T.S.!) are tied to each week’s lesson. The Prayer Wall also offers an interactive opportunity to share your prayers and pray specifically for others.

It is amazing to see what God has done through the prayers and ministry of BSF in the past 60 years. The obedience of our founder, A. Wetherell Johnson, to follow God’s lead in teaching five women the Bible has led BSF to where it is today – shepherding men, women, boys and girls through God’s Word, which has the power to transform lives and communities.

May the Lord use the prayers and vibrant witness of each willing servant in BSF to offer profound witness of His love and truth in a world that so desperately needs Him.

Introducing Generation Z

Introducing Generation Z

Introducing

Generation Z

Introducing Generation Z

BY KIM HURTADO
BSF RESEARCH ANALYST
“… we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
His power, and the wonders He has done.” – Psalm 78:4b

I recently asked my son what he wanted to be when he grew up.  

Expecting to hear the words “doctor,” “engineer” or “behavioral scientist,” he quickly dashed those hopes. 

“YouTuber, mom,” he said. “I want to be a YouTuber.”  

It’s no wonder. Last year, a 7-year-old reported earning $22 million from his personal YouTube channel, Ryan Toysreview, where nearly 19 million subscribers watch him unbox and play with toys. 

Meanwhile, my daughter burst out laughing as she scrolled through my iPhone pictures and said, “Aww … what a cute old-people selfie!” When I asked, “What’s an old-people selfie?,” she fell on the floor in hysterics.  

(Apparently, an “old-people selfie” is a photo of your entire face. Young people intentionally crop out half of a face to make their photography more interesting.) 

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Gen Z.   

Who is Gen Z?

Gen Z are those born from 1999 to 2015. This generation currently constitutes the largest percentage of the country’s population, eclipsing American Baby Boomers, who held the majority for close to 50 years. 

The old order is fading, and the new order is growing 

What do Gen Zers believe?

The U.S. marketing research firm Barna Group says that unlike previous generations, when it comes to religious identity, only 4% of Gen Z have a biblical worldview. 

The percentage who identify as atheist – 13% – is double that of all U.S. adults. That may seem like a small number, but Americans are saying, “there is no God” at increasingly younger ages.

According to Pew Research Center, the “nones,” or people who do not identify with any religion, are at the highest percentages in history. This includes 23% of all U.S. adults and 35% of U.S. adult Millennials, a trajectory that Gen Z will continue. 

And more than half say that happiness is their ultimate goal in life, which equates to financial success.

What’s influencing them?

Gen Z is the first generation to have been exposed to smart technology and social media from birth. According to Barna, 57% of kids and teens look at the screen four or more hours per day; 26% spend eight or more hours a day on their devices – that’s an entire work day!  (My son requires an entire power strip to charge his devices!) 

In this digital world and as a result of social media, we have entered the era of the “democratization of influence.” In previous generations, family heritage and upbringing were the top influences in forming a person’s identity. But Barna reports that Gen Z ranks these fifth.  

While family, teachers, pastors or coaches used to be the primary voices of influence, we now compete with a multitude of worldviews streamed directly to kids’ devices. This generation is being discipled by their smart phones, YouTube and Google. 

This generation is being discipled by their smart phones, YouTube and Google. 

As a result, Gen Z is exposed to a false sense of reality. YouTubers often spend hours editing videos to portray a personal brand. On social media, kids are less likely to cultivate meaningful relationships because of an increased pressure to create a flawless, happy, successful or funny persona.   

The same technology that was designed to “make the world more open and connected,” which was Facebook’s original mission statement, is helping kids disengage from physical communities and relationships. 

Therefore, it should not surprise us that we are seeing an exponential rise in depression and lonliness.

From 2000 to 2016, the U.S. suicide rate increased 30%. Among females, the number skyrocketed to 50%. For teen girls, the number tripled since 2000. 

We can help

Surprisingly, Barna research shows that this young generation – whose top priority is attaining happiness and financial success – is willing to ask difficult questions about the meaning of life. The study reports that the rise in moral relativism, or the lack of a strong moral code, arises more from a confusion about truth than an actual rejection of it.  

So, this generation is not necessarily rejecting the God of the Bible. They know little about Him.  

What an opportunity! In love, patience and understanding, let us help them see the Lord. 

Judges 2:10 reminds us that there were consequences when the Israelites failed to instruct their children in the ways of the Lord.

 “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10)

Let us not repeat that.  

My hope is that God’s Word awakens an excitement to reach the next generation for Christ, instilling a sense of purpose and mission in each and every one of us.   

We do not have to know all the answers. We can simply share what God has done for us. Through our time in God’s Word in our BSF studies, we have much to share!  

As we look beyond ourselves, let us be willing to engage – not just with our minds and our theology, but with a humble heart, free of judgment. We can have a heart that is willing to say, “I don’t know all the answers. But I know that I love you. Let’s search for the answer together.”   

“My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.  I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old – things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.” (Psalm 78: 1-7)

The gift of technology

The gift of technology

The gift of technology

The gift of technology

BY PETE HELGREN
BSF SOFTWARE DEVELOPER

I smiled as the couple quietly bowed their heads in the restaurant. You don’t see folks pray before their meals very often these days. Then I noticed they weren’t praying: They were taking pictures of their meals with their mobile devices. Ah, the surprises that come with living in the 21st century! As a web developer at BSF Headquarters, I’m more immersed in the technical world than most. Spending my days and nights in the glow of electronic devices makes me think about how technology has crowded our lives.

What should we think of this technology explosion?

Is the news all bad?

Can technology be good?

Since Genesis, tools have been an integral part of humanity’s work. From tilling the soil (Genesis 4:2) to playing music (Genesis 4:22), God’s people use His creativity to develop and nurture a fallen world. Sometimes that creativity has pleasing results. Sometimes the results simply confirm our need for a Savior. Like all gifts and all tools, technology can either be redemptive or destructive. We see the destruction all around us. Let’s look instead at how we can use electronic tools and technology redemptively.

Technology can help us prioritize

Our 21st century lifestyles would be busy enough without technology interrupting our daily lives. Text messages and mobile apps clamor for our attention. E-mail and social media feeds crowd our days. But using technology wisely saves us time. A quick text of assurance can relieve anxiety. A quick traffic scan saves time on the road. Personal calendars streamline our meeting times.

Technology can also help us plan for the whitespace, the quiet time we need to slow down and listen for God’s still small voice. It’s that time when we put the wind, earthquakes and fires of the day behind us. Believe it or not, we humans need that quiet time. Our brains must sort through and make sense of the daily background noise. Use the tool of technology to help you plan for some quiet time with God.

Technology can collapse the distance between people

Our God is deeply relational. In the Bible, God often interacts directly with His people (Genesis 6:13; 17:1; Exodus 3:4). We know that an all-powerful God could easily solve the problem of sin at a distance. Instead, He chose to dwell with us.

God made us in His image – as personal, moral and spiritual beings. So, connecting with God and each other personally is part of what it means to be human.

Think of all the ways the Triune God could speak to us today. Daily tweets or a text message or two. And who wouldn’t love to have access to God’s Instagram account and the magnificence of Heaven? Instead, God chose to come to us in human form, and communicated that encounter to us through inspired human authors, for human good.

Embrace your God-given relational nature! Whenever you can, join with your brothers and sisters in Christ in a personal, face-to-face way. Text an invite to someone you haven’t been with in a while to join in study, prayer or encouraging conversation over coffee. Linger before or after class or your group meeting to connect. Check to see if a virtual group member lives in your area to put a physical presence on that virtual friendship you enjoy.

Use technology to schedule time to be without technology. Use impersonal electronic communication to meet personally, with someone you care about. The tools we use change us, but they shouldn’t define us. Our identity isn’t found on Facebook, it is found in Christ. So, use the tool of technology, a God-given gift, to conform to His likeness: Set aside time with our Father, seek out others personally to share Christ.

Like any tool, we can use technology for evil or for good. Remember that it IS a good gift from a good God who wants us to spend more time with Him and more quality time with each other, in person, building up the body of Christ. Yes, technology can get in the way. It can use up precious time and put distance between us when we really yearn to be together. But if we use technology wisely, we can grow close to God and to our brothers and sisters who share this love for God and love for His Word.

Prepared for a Purpose

Prepared for a Purpose

Prepared for a Purpose

BY BENNETT ROLAN | BSF BLOG EDITOR
As an attorney referee, Leigh Feldman seeks unique opportunities to share Christ’s love in the workplace

D uring her weekly leader’s meetings in South Bend, Ind., Leigh Feldman’s prayer requests are often urgent but vague. As a family court attorney referee, Leigh, a veteran group and administrative leader in the Evening Women’s Class, is legally bound to maintain a high level of confidentiality. She handles extremely sensitive cases. They often involve family dysfunction and abuse, and she carries the burdens of broken families and hurting children.

Though she is required to separate her personal faith from legal recommendations, Leigh finds hope in God, who “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

“I’ve really taken a different perspective on my cases,” she said. “I try to look at how Jesus handled the people He dealt with and how He tackled difficult problems. He always showed respect and love. Those are the principles I’m learning to apply.”

Having dealt with alcoholism, abuse and dysfunction in her own childhood home, Leigh’s prayer is to see litigants in the way that God does.

“Most of the people I see in court come in assuming that because I work for the government, I’m trying to make their lives worse. When they encounter respect and patience, they start to think, ‘Maybe I can trust this person,’ ” Leigh said. “They start to realize that I’m not judging them as individual people but rather decide the issue at hand. Even a small bit of extra patience or caring can go a long way in getting to a place where they are willing to comply with court orders.”

As one of the few believers in her office, Leigh’s long days can feel lonely. Though she is not able to share details about her cases, Leigh’s BSF group has become a major support.

“The biggest thing I’m always reminded of through BSF is to start with prayer,” she said. “There have been times that I’ve just fallen on my knees. I know when I send a quick text to pray, there are women who are on their knees with me.”

Leigh has seen the power of prayer as God worked in several of her more difficult cases, the worst involving severe child abuse or sexual assault. “These children have had their innocence stolen,” Leigh said. “They have to live with the emotional and physical scars of their abuse. How can I give their abusers due process or treat them fairly? I can only do it with the power of God. I’m not their judge. God is.”

In cases like these, Leigh draws from her own personal experiences to relate to her clients and develop a deeper sense of compassion. Her parents divorced when she was in elementary school, turning Leigh’s world upside-down. But her mother’s commitment to church involvement kept the family stable.

“I was at a huge risk for going down the wrong path,” Leigh said. “There was no way I could have orchestrated where I am today, it had to be God. He is using my personal understanding of broken homes. I know I’m here for a reason.”

When Leigh shares her own story with the foster kids she meets, including the fact she was the first person in her family to graduate from college, the effect is usually immediate.

“It almost always shocks them,” she said. “They typically come into court assuming I can’t relate to any part of their lives. I think I can have a lot of compassion and empathy. When they are defensive, I understand where they’re coming from. I can give them more room to be angry because I understand their frustration.”

After closing a case, Leigh often shares her office number with the children she has seen as a lifeline for those who may need additional support. “If they open the door at all, I can start to share my faith with them,” Leigh said.

“I’ve had kids bring in their report cards to show me. Another young lady went on a mission trip. She also started running and brought in the medal from her first 5k and gave it to me. I keep that medal and the thank you letters in my desk as a reminder of why God placed me in this position.”

Leigh clings to those victories because so many of the cases she hears do not end well. Parents continue to struggle with drugs and alcohol, and abused children grow up repeating the cycle. But in the midst of this brokenness, Leigh knows God is working.

“There’s a reason why not everyone needs to work in this area,” she said. “God gives me those reminders when I’m ready to give up. I can see His hand and His work in the lives of these kids.”

What can we learn from Leigh’s story?

 

God places His people in strategic places. He often uses difficult circumstances to prepare us to impact others for Christ. Leigh’s childhood could have held her in bondage, but God worked in the midst of her pain and suffering. And she is not afraid to share her own story of brokenness. Opening her own life to others opens doors of understanding and healing. The good news enters in!

Just as God used Joseph’s past to prepare him to save the nation of Israel in Genesis 37, He continues to prepare His people through the hard circumstances of yesterday and today. When faced with past suffering, and the brothers who sold him into slavery, Joseph said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)

So, how has God prepared you for your current circumstances? How can you openly share your past experiences, including your hardships, to relate to those around you?

Leigh clings to God’s strength and deeper purpose as she shares Christ’s love with others through the family court system. How might God be calling you to engage with those around you for Jesus?

 

“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
BSF India: Gospel Impact in the Classroom

BSF India: Gospel Impact in the Classroom

BSF India: Gospel impact in the classroom

BY ANUKRIPA ELANGO | BSF GROUP LEADER
CHENNAI, INDIA
TRANSFORMING TEACHERS:
I n 2014, a group of 40 teachers met after school for the first Bible Study Fellowship satellite class at Anita Methodist School in Chennai, India. Three years later, the handprints of God’s Word are seen across the culture of the school.

“You don’t expect God to talk to your problems,” said Rachel, a teacher, who was initially reluctant to be a part of a BSF group. “But He does! He teaches you how to handle crises with an understanding of eternity.”

Studying God’s Word side-by-side cemented the group of colleagues as a family and taught them to reach into one another’s lives with love. They struggle through difficult marriages, financial trouble and sickness in their private lives, while drawing strength from the people who walk beside them at work.

Conversations about God and His Word spill out of their weekly BSF class time into their downtime in the staff rooms.

“It has altered the way we speak to each other,” said Shanthi, another teacher and BSF member. “A colleague and I were in a staff room, just the two of us. In the course of our conversation, I said something unkind about somebody. My colleague, without skipping a beat in hesitation, asked me to pipe down and be wary of my words. Earlier that week, we had read in Romans that anyone who judges someone else condemns themselves. We were learning from the Word together. That nudged her to hold me accountable and gave me an immediate opportunity to correct myself.”

As the Word of God grows roots into the hearts of the staff at Anita Methodist, it has also impacted students. The school follows a model of servant leadership, using it as an opportunity to set more children on the narrow road. Christian students continue to step into leadership roles with a sense of compassion and humility. Through their example, students from other faiths are choosing to give their lives to Christ, as well.

Teachers saw this focus on hard work and kindness during a recent Sports Week. In the middle of a feverish volleyball match, the captain of the leading team walked to the other side of the court to help an opponent with their play.

The winning captain of another match insisted that the other captains come forward to receive the trophy with him, because, “sports isn’t about competing with each other; it’s about playing together”

The teachers at Anita Methodist firmly believe these are expressions of a profound shift in the school, evidence of the Word of God hammering their lives into shape.

“If they know nothing else about us,” said the school’s principal, “we want people to know that this school comes together to celebrate our children and love their Creator.”

UNITING STAFF:

After experiencing the transforming power of God’s Word, the Anita Methodist teachers felt compelled to share it with others at the school.

“It’s like eating the best chocolate ice cream in the world without ever sharing it,” Joan said. “How can I not talk about that to everybody?”

In response, the teachers organized a parallel Bible study for their janitorial staff.

Teachers take turns leading a daily Bible study of Romans for 22 men and women who cannot read or write. They work together to translate study material into Tamil for their oral classtime. Though the team often frets about the inadequacies of their translations, it is clear the security of Christ’s love is difficult to lose in translation.

The study has grown to be a safe place for the workers, as one of them said, “I have learned to be safe in God here.”

Another class member shared, “Learning from the Bible like this is like eating vada payasamevery morning!,” comparing the study to a traditional Indian dessert.

ETERNAL IMPACT:

As the Word of God grows roots into the hearts of the staff at Anita Methodist, it has also impacted students. The school follows a model of servant leadership, using it as an opportunity to set more children on the narrow road. Christian students continue to step into leadership roles with a sense of compassion and humility. Through their example, students from other faiths are choosing to give their lives to Christ, as well.

Teachers saw this focus on hard work and kindness during a recent Sports Week. In the middle of a feverish volleyball match, the captain of the leading team walked to the other side of the court to help an opponent with their play.

The winning captain of another match insisted that the other captains come forward to receive the trophy with him, because, “sports isn’t about competing with each other; it’s about playing together”

The teachers at Anita Methodist firmly believe these are expressions of a profound shift in the school, evidence of the Word of God hammering their lives into shape.

“If they know nothing else about us,” said the school’s principal, “we want people to know that this school comes together to celebrate our children and love their Creator.”

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