I met Sara (not her real name), an 11-year-old girl, in the stairwell of my building. I would intentionally go there to hang out with her and the other kids, and soon they started knocking on my door asking to play. During one of those play times, our conversation took a turn and the floodgates opened. All the questions Sara had about God came streaming out. An hour into her questions, I suggested reading the Bible together sometime.
The next time she saw me, the first thing she wanted to know was why we hadn't started reading the Bible yet! I gave her a Contemporary English Version of the Bible (ideal for English learners) and away we went! Initially, readingcomprehension posed a barrier, until one day the solution came to me: Sara could draw out the story! She was highly visual and I had seen in the past how images increased her capacity to process.
We began to draw through the book of Mark. I read the story out loud while she closed her eyes and imagined it. Then we would draw what we heard! From there we talked about what we drew and she would ask me her plethora of questions. Finally, I asked three simple questions: What does this passage say about God? What does it say about people? If it's true, what does it mean for my life?
When I went on vacation, Sara decided to take the Bible so she could read and draw art cards at her leisure. Upon my return, she excitedly showed me the art cards she had created. She asked me her questions, and then it was my turn.
"What did you learn about God?"
"He's a really caring God. He's always healing people and caring for them. And he is really forgiving!"
"What did you learn about people?"
"We should have faith and follow Jesus and he forgives us of our sins."
Sensing the significance of what she had just said, I asked my final question. "So what does that mean for you?"
"It means that Jesus forgave me all of my sins and that I have faith and follow Jesus!"
I leaned back, slightly stunned.
"Have you talked to God about this?"
"Yeah! We talk all the time!"
She then went on to excitedly tell me how the Holy Spirit prompts her to pray and that whenever she remembers to pray she feels peace come, especially when she feels afraid. All I could do was sit in astounded, joyful silence, in awe of how God works, humbled by how little I had to do with her encountering God, and delighted that she knew Jesus and was overflowing with the joy and life he promises.
I did not set out to start a Bible study with Sara. My only goal was to get to know her and love her well. As our friendship deepened, she expressed a felt need for Bible study and a hunger for God. What I did was show up, love my neighbor, and watch God work. What a privilege!
What About You?
- Alison was aware of places in her neighborhood where she could get to know people and started spending time there. Can you identify one of these places in your area?
- Alison was ready to walk Sara through a simple Bible study, called a Discovery Bible Study (DBS), when the opportunity came up. We’ve created a resource called the Discovery Bible Study Toolbox to help you introduce your own friends and neighbors to the good news of Jesus. Get the download link here:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alison serves with one of our InnerCHANGE teams in California, where she desires to be God’s transformation agent and see people coming back to life, filled with love for Jesus and love for their neighbors.