Learning God's Word as Neighbors

Hopewell Bible Study: Continuing a Legacy We Didn't Know Existed

I recently met a man who used to accompany his father as he taught a weekly Bible study in Hopewell, the neighborhood where our organization is located. He was encouraged to hear that now, forty years later, I am now providing the same service to my own neighbors in Hopewell. On Tuesday night Hopewell residents gather at our property to learn God’s word. My friends and I, all educators at the Institute for G.O.D., volunteer to make this possible. We know that while not everyone has the time or desire to be a committed full-time bible student, gathering neighbors to pray and consider the Scriptures together is a special thing.

We began offering this study last semester, when we heard several neighbors show interest. During our first session, we discussed Biblical genres like narrative and poetry, studying texts from Genesis, Exodus, Proverbs and the Prophets. This time, our focus was the gospels, and we worked through select passages each week. It is a wonderful thing to learn how to read the Bible for yourself. This Bible Study can encourage the attendees with certain tools to help them to do that. But overall, we are privileged to share ourselves and our own stories, giving testimony to God's work in our lives. While we want to equip them with Bible study tools to enhance their ability to read and interpret Scripture, we also want to give testimony to the Lord’s work in our own lives. Not too long ago, I was the person longing for other people to talk about God's word with. I am so grateful God answered my prayers! Now, I am privileged to help create that venue for others.

Watching my neighbors’ enthusiasm and appreciation to learn has been inspiring. What started with the interest of a few people continued to blossom as more joined each week. Because most of the participants work full-time jobs, or are parents of young children, this helps provide them an opportunity to fellowship with others. I always hope that when people leave on Tuesday night they are encouraged, grown in their knowledge of God, and are uplifted, and I believe that they are. As our second session just concluded, there is a noticeable relational bond that developed between everyone involved.   

Last week we studied Luke 5, where Jesus forgives and heals a paralyzed man.  I shared my own story of being a recipient of the Lord’s power to heal and restore from the crippling effects of nicotine addiction. While I knew addiction was wrong, I used to be immobilized with fear and  lack motivation to get up and face the day, because it was just too hard to overcome. As I shared about my encounter with the Lord where I faced the decision to stand up in faith in order to receive forgiveness and healing from my addiction, several of the participants were visibly impacted.  One attendee shared about their own battle with addiction, and shared about how they too are ready to stand up and walk in faith.

I truly believe that the Bible is for everyone, not just for those of us in full-time ministry. By offering this Bible Study to neighbors in Hopewell, I am so encouraged to get to watch the Lord move in our midst--forming bonds of trust, or even beginning friendships, and being present as we discuss how to approach life morally, responsibly, with faith in a God who heals all sorts of pasts--from addictions to abuses to a neighborhood once forgotten.