“I’ve tried everything else. I might as well try Jesus.”
The young mother was pregnant again and in a dark place. Single, she had been to church, but was living a different lifestyle than the way her Bible guided her. But something happened as she “tried Jesus” and explored God’s Word. She learned to cling to the hope she found in the Bible and is now a follower of Jesus Christ.
Women from the Southern Pines (North Carolina) Sandhills Christian Women’s Club take Stonecroft Bible Studies (SBS) into a nearby pregnancy center where they lovingly guide pregnant and young mothers in learning about God and His Word.
It all started with a challenge from a Stonecroft staff member to take the Gospel outside their group setting. “I don’t know people,” is not an acceptable excuse, she told them. “God says in the Bible to share the Gospel. Now, go do it!”
The Stonecroft women were determined to meet the challenge. When they thought about how to share the story of Jesus, they admitted something they did well was guiding Bible studies. So, they contacted several human services agencies and ministries in their areas about holding Stonecroft Bible Studies for their clients.
A local pregnancy center welcomed their offer. During the first session, something unexpected happened.
‘But we don’t speak Spanish!’
A center leader approached the SBS guides and asked them to return the next night and lead a Spanish study. Surprised, they responded, “But we don’t speak Spanish!” The center staff explained they would have an interpreter available. Language didn’t have to be a barrier to this open door.
Since May 2017, Jan Cashion, CC Edsel, and Becky Thome have worked with the two groups. Jan guides the English language group, and CC and Becky lead the Spanish-speaking group.
In the English-language group, most of the participants are single with no family support, Jan explains. Some were ordered by the court to come to the pregnancy center for classes. Some are there resulting from a series of poor choices that led to a life of struggles. Many have been in church, but they haven’t learned much about the Bible. At the center, they’re getting hope ‒ for the present and the future.
Participants in the Spanish group seem to face different challenges. Most are with a spouse or boyfriend, but are low income and seek help with prenatal through early childhood care, explains CC. Through the center’s incentive program, all clients earn access to the Mommy Room for baby supplies and gift cards for necessities. The access is earned through attendance of parenting education classes and other programs such as the Bible studies.
Through these Bible studies, participants are getting more than baby necessities they’ve earned. “They know we care and we’re sharing the Good News,” says Jan. “And they are understanding who Jesus is.” Both groups have seen women receive Christ in response to the studies.
‘I still have my Bible’
Each SBS participant is given an English or Spanish Bible. “They’re really hungry (for God’s Word),” says Jan. “They’ve been through a lot and are seeking.” Jan explains that some participants have heard their pastor talk about verses, but it’s something different when they read the verses for themselves in their own Bibles.
“They’re pleased to have a Bible all their own,” adds CC. “They bring their Bibles to the studies, learn to look up verses, and like to read them aloud.”
These guides watch how women are transformed through the Bible study. As the clients have read the Scriptures, many have responded that they “didn’t know all this was in there.” This realization opens a big door for ministry to take place.
A while back, Jan was in a restaurant eating lunch when a former SBS participant at the clinic spotted her. It had been a year since she was in the Bible study. After all those months, the young woman hugged Jan, telling her “I love you and everyone there (at the center). I still have my Bible.”
Watching struggling women receive Jesus’ love and develop a devotion for learning Scripture is the reward for these SBS guides. The smiles and excitement keep the guides determined in their mission.
“A big hug means everything,” says Becky.