Margaret always seems so content and peaceful as she works with the residents here at Freddie’s Nursing home. The rest of us barely make it through the time we spend here. I wonder how she does it.
“Margaret? Can I ask you a personal question?”
“Sure, Opal. What’s on your mind?”
“Well, most people think a nursing home is so depressing but you…you seem to come alive as soon as you arrive. How do you do it?"
Margaret’s answer was simple. “The people in my small group from my ABF are committed to praying for me and for the ‘residents’ that I minister to.”
“Small group? ABF? Minister? What ARE you talking about?”
“My church, Sunny Acres Bible Church, has meetings each Sunday morning before we gather for worship where we study the Bible in detail. The meetings are called Adult Bible Fellowships or ABFs.”
“Is that just a fancy name for Adult Sunday School?”
“Why don’t you come to SABC this Sunday and visit? Then you can tell me if you think it is the same. OK?”
“Sure. No one will even notice that I’m not in my Sunday School class.”
Will anyone notice when I don't show up in my Sunday School class? I honestly doubt it.
Opal grew up going to church. She went each and every Sunday. First to Sunday School, then she stayed for the service. Tradition and routine were what mattered to her.
Every Sunday at 10:00 a.m. you would find her in Sunday School that was always taught from the denominational quarterly. Then she would stay for the 11:00 a.m. Church Service and it was the same week after week: Welcome, announcements, three hymns, doxology, offering, sermon (three points, a poem, and a prayer) and one of three invitation songs: Just As I Am, Only Trust Him, or Amazing Grace.
Week after week, month after month, year after year, it was always the same. Nothing ever changed.
Nothing changed until she visited Sunny Acres Bible Church with Margaret Taylor.
From the moment Opal arrived at SABC, she knew things were going to be different. People were actually smiling at her, talking with her, and making her feel welcome. Then the teacher opened his Bible when he started teaching. His Bible! Not a quarterly, but a real Bible. He even had the class members open their Bibles. For the first time, she understood the ‘school’ part of Sunday School. She was being taught the Word of God in context instead of from a quarterly. What is a ‘quarterly’ anyway?
When the lesson ended, no one stood to leave. Instead, they started sharing prayer requests, real requests, not the gossipy kind of prayer requests that the ladies at her church shared just to get the latest scoop.
Then they prayed. Seriously prayed. Specifically prayed. Even some of the men where crying in compassion as they prayed for one to be healed from cancer and another to be free from the temptation of drugs.
After the final “Amen” people came over to her, thanked her for coming, invited her to come back soon, and shared their phone numbers with her ‘in case she should ever need anything at all’. After experiencing SABC’s Sunday School, she could hardly wait to see what their Worship Service would be like.
From that day forward, she never looked at Sunday School the same way. Since then, she has heard it called Sunday School, Life Groups, Bible Study and more. To Opal, it would now always be ABF: Adults studying in the Bible and really Fellowshipping together.
As Opal was playing cards with a new resident at Freddie’s, she was reminded that her small group from the ABF was now praying for her. A smile spread across her face and she couldn’t help but chuckle out loud.
“Whatcha laughing at ma’am?” Her new resident wondered if his cards were showing.
“I’m just thinking about the people from my ABF that are praying for me as I sit here with you.” She flashed a smile at him.
“What’s an ABF?”
“Adult Bible Fellowship. We meet each Sunday morning for Bible study prior to going to the worship service.”
“Oh, you mean Sunday School.”
“Let’s get you well and out of here so you can come and visit yourself. Then you can tell me if you think they are the same. OK?”
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