Torch, Fall 1979

t by June we had 12. We announced that the Bible study was sponsored by Cedar Hill Baptist Church (Cleveland, Ohio). Free babysitting, guest missionary speakers and the advice of our pastor were all benefits of our church. When CHBC hosted special meetings, we had a long list of possible guests as the result of our Bible study contacts. We studied the Gospel of John, Romans, Ephesians, Genesis and prophecy during a five-year period. At least one other member of our church acted as a back-up for the teacher and for prayer support each time we met. Our neighborhood Bible study ministry also had opportunity to work with youngsters. One lady tended toddlers and babies while their mothers studied the Scriptures. She often read them Bible stories and sang "Jesus Loves Me." Her work was a ministry in itself and a testimony of genuine Christian love to these young mothers as they saw Jesus Christ in her. ·Some studies lent themselves to using supplemental paperback books to take home. At times, we assigned "homework" by asking key questions about the chapter to be taught in the following session. We stressed memorizing Scripture, and, when possible, new Christians were assigned to teach memory verses. Once a year our pastor came to answer questions the ladies submitted; it was our most popular meeting. Many brought first-time visitors. As the end of the year we had a farewell luncheon with a testimony from a new Christian. One of the most serious problems we face in our neighborhood Bible studies is seeing new Christians go off on their own to find a church. Often, convenience is the sole criteria. Many do not have the discernment to see the error in charismatic or ecumenical movements. Close ties with the local church, perhaps conducting the Bible studies at your church during the week, and a very close one-on-one discipling program help those saved in neighborhood Bible studies establish local church identities. The love and support only a local church can give are necessary for the spiritual life of new Christians who are often alone in their convictions within their family. Other women in our church organized their own neighborhood groups. Several studies for couples have been quite successful. They meet on weekday evenings. We worked in one such study with a young couple who started their home Bible study by going house to house on their street. A men's Bible study grew out of the original study when a tearful new Christian called the husband of the teacher and asked, "How will my husband ever be saved?" This really brought home the truth of Romans 10:14: "How then, shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they "...we must be willing to open our homes, our hearts, and the Word of God to show themwhat the Hible offers." have not heard?" The time that the men had to hear the Word of God apart from their wives proved to be a useful outreach to business and professional men. Campus Bible Fellowship met on our patio recently for a Bible study. The spiritual tenor and interest of participating students were a great boost to my own husband's first teaching experience of a college age group. One of these students shared her delight in a summer children's Bible study in her home with 30 children attending. From that work, nine decisions for Christ have resulted. We plan to involve the parents of these children with an invitation to attend our church. The demands of having a Bible study are sometimes inconvenient and interfere with other worthwhile activities. But as the gap widens between the Christian community and the world around us, we must be willing to open our homes, our hearts, and the Word of God to show them what the Bible offers. You need not worry about how to get started in a program which will produce results. My experience in neighborhood Bible studies began 14 years ago. A woman in our church spiritually "mothered" me through the first years of my Christian life and gave me a vision for reaching friends for Christ. For several years, she encouraged me to be acting chairman of her Bible study, teach memory verses, be a leader for questions and answer groups and finally to teach a lesson. She introduced me to a wealth of reference books and Bible scholars who filled a lot of the empty spaces. The excitement of having the Holy Spirit teach me while studying the Scriptures verse by verse was most satisfying. I learned the most important lesson of my new Christian life:when you step out to do the will of God, having done all you know to prepare yourself, He will carry you beyond anything you ever thought possible. Mrs. Baier is married to David Baier, a manufacturer's representative for an electronic components firm. They and their three children attend Cedar Hill Baptist Church and are active in the church's home Bible study program. Mrs. Baier is a graduate of the Purdue University School of Pharmacy. 11