♥R eposted with permission from Calvary Life Magazine.♥
FEAR seems to be a common theme from those who have been sharing their experiences about their Neighborhood Bible study journey! “How will my neighbors respond when I invite them to come to my house for a Bible study? Will they think I’m weird, crazy, fanatical? What if don’t know how to answer their questions? WHAT IF NO ONE COMES?” On and on the doubts and fears go. Well, my experience has been no different! From the time two years ago when the vision was shared for us to go out into their neighborhoods, workplaces and families like streams in the desert, sharing the Living water, I knew that God wanted me to start a study in my neighborhood! BUT, all those fears I mentioned kept on rearing their ugly heads in my heart and mind!
I prayed about it some, but I’m sad to say, I set out to make sure that I was far too busy to do it! I even signed up for the Revelation study in BSF to make sure my time was filled! Well, our patient, loving Heavenly Father was not going to let me off the hook! One Sunday early in October, 2015, pastor Jim said “What assignment has God given you that you have not followed through on?“ That was an arrow straight to my heart! I knew God was challenging me on my disobedience about stepping out and inviting my neighbors to join me. I confessed my sin, called my BSF small group leader that afternoon and told her that I wouldn’t be coming back, went through my neighborhood and prayed and then sat down and made out the invitations for the Bible study for my neighbors.
Our neighborhood, like many in the area, is very diverse. As I distributed the invitations, I prayed that the ladies that God wanted to come would respond….3 women excitedly said they would be there! I must admit that I was a little disappointed that these 3 were already believers, but reminded myself of the fact that I had asked God to send those that he wanted to be there!
On the first Tuesday night, I got a call from another neighbor 20 minutes before we were to start saying that she would like to come if it wasn’t too late to RSVP!! So, we started with 4 neighbors and myself…..a Taiwanese lady, a Chinese lady, a Filipino lady and then one lady and myself who were just “regulars”! After the first night, the Filipino lady called and asked if she could invite 2 other Filipino ladies. Of course!! And so our very International flavored NBS2GO began and my heart overflowed with joy at the privilege of being involved.
Three weeks after we started, my Chinese neighbor, said with tears, “Thank you so much for doing this! I knew that you & John had a Bible study here every other Sunday night and I thought about walking over and asking if I could come several times. And then you invited me to join this neighborhood study with ladies and I’m so grateful to be here!” Oh, what if I had not done it! Thank you Lord that You continued to push me to step out in faith!
In January of last year, we decided to have an International dinner during Chinese New Year with the ladies and their families. Each one brought her husband and children, along with one of their favorite ethnic dishes. We had a great time and as is so often the case, the men ended up talking at the kitchen table and the ladies at the dining room table, with children going between the two. It was a wonderful evening
with delicious foods and sweet fellowship! As everyone was leaving, we heard several of them say to each other, “I’m so glad we’ve finally gotten to know each other!”
We met until mid-May and then took the summer off. John and I hosted 2 ice cream socials in August and invited our neighbors to join us, praying for opportunities to get to know them and that more of the ladies would decide to join the study when we restarted in September.
Within the group there have been job struggles, family struggles and health issues that have been opportunities for us to pray for one another. Right before Christmas, my neighbor’s husband was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer that had metastasized to his brain. She sent me an email again this past week expressing how much it means to her to have this group of women to share with and know that they are praying for her as they go through the treatment process.
It has been a joy for me to see how another neighbor is growing in her faith and reaching out to others. She and her husband recently invited 6 volunteer teachers from China over to their house for dinner. They are here teaching in a Chinese Immersion program. She excitedly told us how she shared with them how she came to know Jesus as her Savior and the difference He has made in her life. She has continued to reach out to them and we’re praying with her that some of these teachers will trust Christ before they leave in June.
As John & I have continued to pray for our neighbors, we felt led to invite our Pakistani, Muslim neighbors over for coffee a few weeks ago on a Saturday morning. Again fear was HUGE for me, but God was faithful once more! We had such a great time together! They thanked us multiple times for inviting them and even sent a thank you note in the mail saying what a good time they had. Now we’re praying for continued interactions and the opportunity to share Jesus with them.
Our study ended in May with another international dinner that included families to celebrate another year of Bible study and growing relationships. Summer will, once again, be an opportunity to cast the net in our neighborhood with another ice cream social.
Being involved with this Neighborhood Bible study has been such a blessing. I’m so glad I accepted this assignment God had for me. – Kathy Zimmerman