Filling the Gap: Lisa's Story
I didn’t plan to become the neighborhood Bible study leader.
We already had a wonderful leader, Laurie, whom everyone loved – she was a gifted teacher and a treasured friend to each of us. When she moved out of the neighborhood, I kept hoping and praying that a new leader would step forward to take her place, but no one did. I couldn’t stand by and just let our study dissolve – that little group had meant so much to me and my neighbors over the years. I stepped forward, along with another woman, to co-lead, but I did not feel equal to the challenge at all. I hadn’t been raised in a Christian home. I hadn’t grown up in the church.
I was only beginning to study the Bible for myself, how could I think of calling myself a leader?
It was a difficult time, and I had some big shoes to fill. Then my co-leader had to move on to other things. Some of the women stopped coming to Bible study when I took over. Some became inconsistent, at best, and some even began going to Laurie’s new neighborhood to attend her study. All of that hurt. But God kept urging me to continue saying, “Just keep going. I will fill in the gaps.” I drew great comfort from the Old Testament story of Balaam and the donkey, and I thought, “If God can make a donkey speak, surely He can give me the right words to say to these women.”
The Holy Spirit did indeed fill in the gaps in our study. He filled those empty seats, drawing both old and new neighbors to Bible study. He filled in my trembling spirit with His powerful presence. He filled our hearts with His love for each other. He is the true teacher of my study, and all of us learn and grow together under His instruction. I love the diversity of our study, and the opportunity to connect deeply with women with whom I would not normally cross paths.
We care for each other, acting as the hands and feet of Christ.
When you accept the role of the neighborhood Bible study leader, you sometimes feel like people start to look at you like you have a third eye! When my neighbor’s son suffered a devastating, life-threatening injury, I felt awkward going to see her, knowing she did not attend my study. I guessed that she was probably not a believer at all. But again, God urged me forward. Like it or not, I had been given this leadership position, and it fell to me to do the difficult thing. My heart broke for this mother, and I couldn’t imagine facing the possible death of my child without knowing that I could cry out to God, begging for His help and comfort.
When I walked into the hospital to meet with my neighbor, I was shocked and humbled by her reaction. She fell into my arms and wept. When I asked her if I could pray for her son, she readily agreed and asked what I needed. Incense? Oil? Candles? I assured her that the two of us needed nothing except our hearts united, crying out to the Lord for her son.
God chose to work a miracle in that boy’s life—and in the life of his mother—as she witnessed firsthand the awesome power of prayer.
The women in our Bible study surrounded and supported her, and she experienced the deep, true love and comfort that comes from Christian friendship. When she had no place in her world to turn, she discovered something true and valuable: that God loved her dearly, and He was allowing her neighbors the privilege of demonstrating that love to her. She later joined our Bible study and began to attend faithfully. She and her entire family eventually came to Christ, and we were all there to see it!
Although I was a reluctant neighborhood Bible study leader, I now regard it as a huge privilege. God meets me in my weakness, honors my obedience and shows up for me week after week. When I am allowed to witness His life transformations and miracles, I know it’s worth any amount of discomfort or uncertainty I may experience. He fills in every gap.
Have you ever experienced God "filling the gap" in your own life? Share with us in the comments!
Find more Fresh Stories here!
Lisa Hankins is a native Georgian and the leader of a Bible study at her children's school She has a passion to help others find healing by trusting Christ with their brokenness. Lisa lives with her husband Richard and two sons. When she is not shuttling her boys to various activities, she is busy serving as the sponsorship coordinator for an orphanage and school in Uganda, Hands of Love. She loves the verse Hebrews 10:25: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Lisa’s story was written by Erica Rountree. Erica is a freelance writer and the communications director at Action Ministries Inc. She lives and works in Marietta, Georgia, where she’s a member of a neighborhood Bible study and mama to two girls who constantly outsmart her and drive her to drink sweet tea.