A Place for You

Advice on Building Friendships - One woman's story of how an inter-generational Bible study changed her life.

by Maureen Kasdorf

I can remember thinking, "Me, join a women's ministry? I'm just a twenty-year-old college student. Won't they all be older and tell me I belong in the college-age ministry?" I was looking for excuses to dodge the Lord's gentle tugging to deepen my relationship with Him through Bible study, and I knew God was leading me to the women's ministry, not the college age group. Despite my nervousness, I registered for the winter session of an inter-generational women's Bible study. I wondered if I would really be accepted by the women.

I got excited at the thought of finding a mentor. As the weeks progressed, I looked at the older women in my group, wondering, "Could she be the one to mentor me? Should I ask her?" I never expected the mentor gift God had prepared for me. As I grew in appreciation for each woman's role in my life, my cup overflowed with the blessing each woman added. I remember singing the hymn, "Great is Thy Faithfulness" and when we sang the last verse, "Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!" I wept with gratitude because when I asked for one blessing—one woman—He gave me ten.

From the first few weeks of Bible study, I was hooked. I was hooked on the words and person of Jesus, but I also was hooked on the women in my group. They were not the hip and trendy Wheaton college students I was used to nor were they like my mother—they were just what I needed. They had come to meet Jesus and for months we faithfully did just that. Eventually, I got over my fear of not belonging and my uncertainty about what we could offer each other. The women graciously welcomed me. Soon, we learned to value each other's walk with Christ and unique experiences. Some had buried parents and children, moved from other countries and states, yet clung faithfully to the Lord. Many women were part of legacies of knowing Christ—some had mothers who'd known Christ for eighty years! Our prayer times were sweet, and we saw answers weekly. We felt God working in so many ways and I knew that the other women in my group truly cared about what happened to me and genuinely prayed for me.

A few weeks into the session, I felt God's nudging to share about my recent upsetting panic attacks and ask for prayer. Immediately, women gathered around me. We knelt in the chapel and they laid hands on me, asking God to heal me. I have never felt the Holy Spirit and the power of prayer so strongly. Their prayers opened my eyes to the amazing things happening in women's ministries, especially in inter-generational groups. God showed me Himself in married women, divorced women, and single women. Our group consisted of women from all different backgrounds—army wives, women with grown children, and those with teenagers. God showed me how He works in all situations, how He ministers differently to all His children, and how He can love me through such unexpected people.

Although I raced back to church for the following year's fall program, hoping to be in the same group, I wasn't. Life had taken several women away from the area. However, God provided for my needs yet again! Many of the older women in my group had known Christ for 40 or 50 years! The depth of their knowledge of Christ and their life experiences amazed me. Sweetly they nurtured me, and modeled devotion, humility, grace, and an inner beauty through the ways they cared for their families and other women in our group. They gave what little they had to feed the less fortunate, tirelessly cared for sick relatives, and hosted neighbors in their homes to share Christ. They spoke well of others, respected their husbands, and diligently studied His Word. I admired their ability to recall almost any Scripture verse, familiarity with the old hymns, and knowledge of the great missionaries. Their inward source of strength so attracted me that I deeply aspired to be just like them.

The days grew dark for me that semester when family struggles arose. Two of the older women took me out for an ice cream sundae after study one night to encourage me—with chocolate! There were many times when the women were just what I needed. Throughout the study the career-minded women encouraged me in my studies and future pursuits. There were cards of encouragement during finals week, calls to say I'm praying for you, and they even threw me a bridal shower.

If you are prone to keeping your ministries to age and stage limitations—reconsider. Women in different lifestyles and backgrounds are able to uniquely encourage one another to keep going and remind us of where we've been with God. Although older women are sometimes sidelined in our society, in small groups focusing on Christ they are the wise sages and testimonials of God's faithfulness throughout a lifetime. These women are also able to offer a different perspective on life, society, and Scripture. Paul exhorts that the older women should "teach the younger women..." (Titus 2:4), and that in the church we should, "Treat older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters..." (1 Tim. 5:2). This has been lived out in the inter-generational small groups I have been a part of and benefited from.

If it weren't for the loving women in my group who saw me not only as a nervous college student, but as a fellow follower of Christ, I would not be where I am spiritually today and leading the inter-generational small group I am now.

God designed a place for me, the lone twenty-year-old college student in a women's Bible study at my church. It's where I have found a sisterhood of eternal significance. I hope you will too.

Editor's Note: This powerful testimony is a reminder of the importance of incorporating women from all ages and stages of life into women's ministry programming. There is a place for all kinds of ministry; it's usually not an either/or but rather a both/and.