Welcome back to women’s online Bible study based on the book Read the Bible For Life by George Guthrie. We are discussing week nine and completing our study this week. Join us as we discuss our personal plans for reading the Bible with perseverance. Below is an update from Missionary Mom and Ministry Leader Stasis Nielsen as she shares her own experiences bringing the Bible to others. These are her words:
Throughout my life as a missionary momma I have been privileged to spend time with the poorest of the poor and even invited to their homes. In all honesty, I feel more honored being invited into some of these places than when I have been invited to the more grand places in the world. The reason being is that I have been trusted with their vulnerability and they know that no judgment will follow. Nothing will make me cringe in disdain; no smell, no bugs nor rats or lice can throw me off of my guard and cause them to feel uncomfortable with me. If I am offered something unusual to eat, I just deal with it and eat it, complimenting on the uniqueness of its flavor and asking how it was made. I feel blessed when I am with those needier than myself. I share this not to boast but because it is a precious gift that missionaries need to develop.
In light of this, I would like to share a story with you. I meet this elderly woman once. She was poorer than poor, yet her vivacity and joy was contagious. She lived on the mountain where we were serving and I just fell in love with her from the moment I met her. She invited me to her home, and apparently she invited many people however no one ever went. I was so honored that she even invited me, and that just blessed her to pieces. Of course, in most of the places where we have served you do not just get an address and Google map it, you need to be shown the way. So one day, I met her and we began the long walk to her home.
I was truly amazed at her energy level, she put me to shame as we went up and down the hills of the great mountain. She was missing many teeth and her speech was slurry, yet she chatted happily all the way. I so enjoyed her company. With her wrinkled hand in mine we enjoyed the long journey and then up the final rickety steps up to her loft of a shack on the top of another old shack. As we climbed she pointed out her “beauty” in pots, the little carrot tops and other shrubbery she was attempting to grow. She had a few scary looking chickens, at least that is what I thought they were. It was hard to tell because they were so diseased and skinny. She had a name for each one. They were her little sickly companions.
We entered her dark room. And that was what it was, a dark and dingy room filled to the low ceilings with stuff. I have found that the poorest of the poor are the grandest of hoarders. They collect anything they can, they may need it one day I suppose. She was no different, boxes everywhere, filled with stuff, an old stove that had been recently in a fire was next to one wall. She told me she put the fire out with a bottle of Coke. Her bed was just old blankets, smelly and crawling with things, piled high on top of boxes. There was a table, with some food and a few stray cats were bickering over who got the final scraps. A rat tried to move to another box and a cat from the table pounced upon it and drug it to the doorway, where it could play with it better in the outside light, because of course, there was no electricity.
The smell, nasty food, cats, rats and creepy things upon the bed did not bother me at all. My eyes even drifted at one point to the bat hanging from a corner in the ceiling. If it did not bother her, it should not bother me. I wanted to converse with this amazing woman. What was it about her that set her apart from the others who shared similar circumstances in life? I knew many, many poor people who only spoke of their poverty with longing eyes and outstretched palms. She never asked me for a thing, and it was because of her selfless nature that I always joyed in giving her as much as I could.
She was joy, joy in her toothless grin and in her warm and loving hands. Even in her elderly frailty you experienced a deep love in the warmth of her embrace. Her circumstance did not dictate her joy, it came from within her. To sit her and listen to her share with me from the stories of her life would give me wisdom on some of the greatest truths of the ages. As author Elisabeth Elliot so eloquently writes, “It is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.” This amazing woman embodied the quote to the fullest.
Here, before me in this sacred trash heap lived a woman, a lone woman who brought joy to so many in her poverty stricken little world because she knew the key to true joy. I am not talking about happiness, because happiness depends on happenstance. Believe me, there was nothing happy about her surroundings and yet I belly laughed and truly enjoyed myself whenever I visited her there. She cared deeply for others, she prayed fervently, and I believe she knew well the One to Whom she prayed.
This dear woman’s joy came from the overflow of a spirit that had been drenched daily with the Word of God and fellowship in His presence. She had a few worn Bibles and would read the Bible diligently until she could not read anymore. If cleanliness was next to godliness, then she was definitely not an any saint-to-be list, however she loved God and it spilled over into the lives of others. We knew she loved us and we all loved her in return. I learned more from her in the short time that I knew her, than most of the years I spent in Bible College. She will never have her name in lights, nor will ballads ever be sung of her epic faith but her name is etched on the Palm of His Hand and that was all she ever wanted. She is content. I cried like a baby when she passed into His arms, not because of my loss but because she was taken care of and resting in Eternity with The One to Whom she gave her all to.
As we close our Read The Bible For Life study this week, I was moved beyond words by the faith of those that have gone before us. Those precious ones who walked through life clinging to God and His Word and not the things of this world. We live in an entitled age where our every want and whim is met at any hour of the day. It is because of this that we have forgotten the ancient beauty of a life devoted. A life devoted is one that yearns for time alone with God. Every moment spent with the Lord in prayer and the study of His Precious Word should be done from a passionate devotion and not a guilt-felt duty. Our challenge is simple: What legacy we will leave in exchange for the graces we were given? Can we find it within ourselves to live a life devoted to Him and a passionate desire for His Word? Will what we have learned leave us devoted or lay dormant within?
To read more articles about the work we are doing in the missionary field please visit www.StasiaNielsen.com
Assignment For The Week
- Join one of the small groups this week, please note the schedule change.
Small Group Questions from the Read the Bible For Life workbook (Post your answers here or share them in a small group this week)
- Where do you do your Bible reading?
- When do you do your Bible reading?
- Approximately how long do you spend reading your Bible each day?
- What tools have you used consistently in your Bible reading?
- What lesson from this Bible study had the most impact on you and why?