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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Expand (07/18/13)

TITLE: Expanding the Church Walls
By LaVonne Wood


Some years ago I felt the Lord speaking to me about starting a women’s bible study in our small rural community town in South Dakota. This was no ordinary bible study though. I prayerfully invited women from every different denomination in our town. The list included Lutheran, Catholic, Church of Christ, Grace Bible, and Methodist churches, plus Non-Denominational – my church.

Now if you were raised in South Dakota like I was, you would know that many people here are hard-working, caring people, yet very stubborn in their way of doing things. One thing I realized early on is, “you don’t mess with my religion”. The idea being that grandma and grandpa and their kin as far back as history takes us, all went to this denomination and “nothing is going to make me change now”. So this undertaking seemed like a bigger challenge then I could handle alone.

The only way I knew to make this thing work is if I included God in the selection process. With the Holy Spirit’s direction, I sent out invitations to at least one lady in every church affiliation. Knowing that God chose each lady, I shouldn’t have been surprised when they all showed up for the first bible study. With shaky hands and a slight quiver in my voice I began with introductions and the first lesson.

Over the next few years we developed into a very close knit group. We prayed together, cried together and shared testimonies of answered prayer and miracle healings from our Lord. We did not always agree on doctrine or worship styles, but we always allowed each other to grow without criticizing.

Sometime later I heard of another bible study at the Methodist church with attendees from several different churches. Also, a children’s Wednesday night bible fun group began with children of all ages and from every denomination in town participating.

Just last year I was invited to be the main speaker at the Church of Christ’s annual “Ladies Salad Supper”. Since our Non-denominational church was considered to be the most radical of all the churches, not accepted by most affiliations, I praised God for this unusual opportunity.

I’m thankful the Lord helped me to expand my vision to include all Christian faiths in that first bible study group. It has given me a chance to share my beliefs with a lot wider audience than if I only taught within my church walls. I think it helped believers and non-believers alike to accept people with various worship preferences. It also gave me the chance to led people to salvation who may otherwise have felt belonging to a church and performing its requirements makes them a Christian.

I’m not sure I initiated a desire in our community to begin breaking down church barriers, but I am glad that we are working together to save souls. My hope is that we can see ourselves as one body of Christ with one mission, to share the gospel with all mankind and help believers grow in their walk with the Lord. Whether we search outside or inside the church walls, our mission is the same.

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This article has been read 374 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Larry Whittington07/25/13
When the Lord leads, success happens.

Nice, well written story.
Jan Ackerson 07/27/13
Well-written article with a good message.

Two suggestions: always capitalize 'Bible.' Also, this would benefit from a more personal touch--perhaps an anecdote from the Bible study that illustrates the womens' differences and how they were overcome. This would make the article more relatable to your readers. Conflict and resolution always draw readers in.

I'm heartened to read of the oneness of God's body in your community, and of your part in bringing that about. Well done!
Richard Hicks07/27/13
I enjoyed reading this. Well written and easy to read and undestand. Keep writing.
Brenda Rice 07/29/13
Your entry is well written and interesting. So glad to hear about your efforts to bring believers together. That is a very important need in our area too.

Keeping writing.
C D Swanson 08/01/13
Congrats and God Bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/01/13
Congratulations for ranking 2 in your level and 21 overall!! (The highest rankings can be found on the message boards)