Torn Curtain goes beyond the Iron Curtain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

234 Comments

  1. Thank God for the life changing lessons from the Bible and how God is using BSF to equip me for service in my church and the world at large

  2. Thanks for sharing this great article and your faith, after all God has a purpose for all of us in this world and in his world.

    Best regards from https://autónoma.cl/

  3. Thank you for sharing how you are being hurt. God has a purpose for us all here for salvation of all few or many. I love this blog from BSF it is no ending testimonies. I love you Tita

  4. This is very reassuring to me as I am at the moment asking God to show me the way forward in the coming year. So far He has been my Ebenezer and I desire to be used of Him wherever He may dim good for me – whether in BSF or elsewhere. After all, I am a soldier in the army of the Lord, and should be ready for deployment at any time to any place of His choice to do what He instructs me to do. Thanks be to our marvellous Lord.

  5. Thank you for sharing your great faith in God, your obedience. How wonderful it is to have God working through us. I recognize that Learning God’s word has improved my relationship with Him. and strengthened my faith. Glory to God!

  6. Thank you for the encouragement. It is so encouraging because I have just joined a BSF class; and much more exciting to think that this is a season of preparation even for me, an older person in her ‘winter years’

    • Joyce,
      Absolutely! May your winter years be the most fruitful!

  7. Your message describing the road God has placed you on is fascinating. We never know how God will use the wonderful training he provides for us through BSF, but we know that his word never returns void. I encourage you to keep trusting that He knows the way that you should go and I pray that when you have completed His assignment, He will say “Well Done!”

  8. I am greatfull for people such as yourself who listens to our Fathers calling and has the courage to act . I can only hope to be as open to Him when He calls on me. God bless you !

  9. Peggy, this was wonderful to see how God has worked through you. It is so encouraging to hear. Thank you so much for sharing. Bless you and BSF for bringing the word to us all and others around the world.

  10. This is so encouraging. Thank you very much Peggy for sharing BSF has encouraged me to read God’s Word and do God’s work.

  11. To whom much is given much is expected.
    God has given me so much thru’ His word in BSF. Thanks Peggy for reminding me and what wake up call.
    May God continue to bless you as you bless and encourage others.
    He is faithful.

  12. Each time! Each time we wash our hands we can be thankful to God for His washing away our careless
    Sinful nature..each time I put on my shoes I can thank Him for leading me where someone needs me
    And Him..when I open my eyes ,see the colorful sun rise, or rest in the spectacular sunset, or look up
    At the stars , the moon..keep my mind fixed on the good. .I know my Savior lives..what can I Give Him..
    My love , thankful heart, perserverance ..for who and where He has placed me for this hour..to bring Him pleasure and honor..oh how He blesses this!! These are things we all can do….

  13. “Sparkle wherever God places you,” “To him much is given much more is required.” Thanks Peggy for these encouraging and challenging words. Often I’m scared of learning more when I see that I have not effectively used or applied what I have so far. I now know that my time in BSF is preparation for the future. Sparkle indeed wherever.

    • BSF has been a blessing to me.After 18 years I have come to know the Lord in a more personal way.I will always be indebted.I’m so glad God has used Peggy so mightifully in His kingdom building.Thank you Peggy for your share.

      • Thank you so much Peggy, for sharing. I am so touched. I can’t thank God enough for BSF.

  14. Peggy,
    I am encouraged by your commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ. At times we get discouraged by the different seasons of our life but the enormous support we get from the group discussions during Bsf keeps us afloat.
    May you continue being used by God to spread the good news.

  15. This story of Peggy has inspired me to pay closer attention to my studies in BSF, beyond the reading and writing down answers. This is my first year in BSF and, at age 65, I have already found a group of women that I believe are becoming my sisters in Christ. I was blessed with a Catholic education and a personal love of Jesus since my earliest childhood, but this experience in BSF is giving me a new understanding of the importance of honoring God and sharing that reverence with others in my family and beyond. I hope, that with new knowledge and understanding, my heart will be permanently changed to give me the courage to share with others what I have concealed in my heart all these years.

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