Home of Wheaton Bible Church's Quarterly Magazine
By Kellie Kammes, Director of Women’s Ministry
Sometimes, as the old saying states, less truly is more. In a time when needs seem so vast and ministries are trying to expand and do more, the leaders of our Place4You women’s Bible study made a decision to do less last fall, but the impact was more than we could have imagined.
Instead of offering multiple study options, we offered only one: Jonah—Navigating a Life Interrupted. We believed women would find surprising parallels between their own lives and Jonah’s. Jonah’s story is about God interrupting a man’s life in ways he could never have imagined—and truthfully never wanted—and how Jonah responded to the God who was in charge.
Our lives often don’t go the way we imagined or wanted them to go, and we too often struggle to accept the interruption (what our study called God’s divine intervention) to our plans.
Longtime Place4You (P4Y) attender and sometimes leader Sue speaks for literally hundreds of women when she says that she found the Jonah study to be much more than she had expected. Although she has been a follower of Jesus since she was young, her encounter with God’s Word in this study was fresh and powerful as she realized that she had never really given all of herself to God. Fearfulness got in her way—fear that He might require something of her that would be too difficult, too scary, or too painful.
Until this study, Sue had not realized that her faith had been based on fear or that she had understood very little of God’s love for her. “My obedience was always motivated by avoiding punishment, but now I see that because God knows me intimately and loves me deeply, He will only require things of me that are best for me. Because He wants to give me joy, that should be my only reason to obey Him.
“My faith was all about obedience and not about His love for me. I was always afraid that He would want me to prove my allegiance to Him by making me do something that made me miserable. But Jonah hit me hard. I saw that God was going to give me what I need to serve Him and give me an interest in whatever He called me to do. It removed the fear. It made it so much easier now to give my all to God because I understand that He truly loves me. I’m excited because I know He has led me through everything for a reason and He has a reason for the painful things I’ve been through. I know it can be used for His glory in some way.”
So many women shared comments like Sue’s as they reflected on how God used the Jonah study in their lives. Others shared about the impact of a “missionary assignment” each group of women was asked to complete— something that would give them an opportunity to extend God’s love to someone else.
Their choices reveal a wide range of passions and creativity. One group decided to put together gift baskets—candy, candles, lotion, and reading materials (including Pastor Rob’s book) for three women in their neighborhoods who were going through difficult circumstances over the holidays. One of the basket recipients, an older woman, sent this note:
I have never received such a thoughtful gift in my life. More than that, you don’t know me and yet you all care because I, a fellow mortal, experienced a loss I’m still trying to comprehend. Your most generous and thoughtful gift inspires me to pass it on now, even more aware of and caring about the experiences of others. Many, many thanks! God bless you!
Her response was so encouraging and was just the start of a new friendship. This kind of response was received over and over again.
On a personal note, when I’m in a Place4You study, I’m not the Women’s Ministry Director, I’m just Kellie—wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend. My encounter with God’s Word through the Jonah study was personal and powerful. It’s my desire to part ways with Jonah by allowing God to be God and humble myself to willingly and joyfully go where He’s told me to go, whether that means giving up my “rights” to how I’d like to be treated in a particular situation or forgiving someone who’s hurt me. This study (but really, the same could be said of every study we do) gave us fresh eyes to see ourselves more as God sees us and to see God as He is.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kellie Kammes, WBC’s Director of Women’s Ministry since 2008, says, “I have a love for God’s Word and for women, so you can imagine how affected I am personally by the Place4You ministry.”