With tremendous joy, I’d love to introduce you to Johnnie Haines, one of the dearest friends I’ve ever had. She is my coworker here at Living Proof but, girlfriend, she was my coworker long before either of us dreamed there would ever be an actual ministry building. We go way, way back to the days when my tiny dining room was stacked to the sky and strewn to the winds with the complete chaos of somebody who’d just fallen in love with the Scriptures. I’ll hand this to her and let her tell you a little bit about our story together.
Hi, my name is Johnnie and I am blessed to answer your emails concerning Bible Studies here at Living Proof Ministries. This week I received an email from a young woman who wanted to know how she could get started writing and teaching Bible Studies. She wanted to know how Beth got started. The answer to that question was just too long for an email answer so I thought I might share with all of you a little bit of Living Proof history.
I met Beth in the fall of 1980. I had one little boy and I had just left the corporate world to stay home with my little guy. I applied for a part time job to teach Mother’s Day Out at my church. There just happened to be an opening in a classroom where another young mom was teaching. That young mom had one little girl and she, like me, was looking for a little income to supplement the family budget. I was introduced to Beth Moore and we became fast friends on the very first day. (This is me, Beth, with a short interjection: picture that I had a side pony-tail and my skirt was too short.) We bonded over peanut butter sandwiches and little children. (Beth again: we ate their leftovers.) As time went on, we solved most of our world’s problems either at her kitchen table or mine. We worked on our marriages, our homes and our extended families. (Beth again: what Johnnie is not telling you is that I’d sometimes decide to leave Keith after he’d head out for work but drop by her house on my way to my mother’s and she’d talk me into going back to him by afternoon. It is such a funny, warm memory to me now. Gotta have friends like that. She’d listen. She’d understand. Then after a few hours, she’d ask me if I felt better after talking it out and I always did. Then I’d go on back home without Keith knowing that I’d left him that day. Now, back to Johnnie…) We both went on to have another child, me a boy, she another girl. Our children were raised jointly between us. Life was good for these two young moms in northwest Houston.
After a few years, God opened different doors for ministry for us both. Beth taught Sunday School and had begun to speak at churches outside our area. I was the Director of Women’s Ministries at a local church. She wanted a place to teach week-day Bible Study and I had a group that needed a teacher! For the first couple of semesters, she prepared and taught faithfully. Then, the women wanted homework of all things. We prayed about it and Beth knew God was calling her to write, so she decided to see how God was going to work it all out.
By now, we both had young school age children. So, as soon as the bus picked up her girls, she sat down at her dining room table and began to work on a “word-processor.” It was long before computers and she was blessed to have a glorified typewriter that had a little bit of memory. As soon as mine got on the bus, I headed to the church to my job there. By 2:30, she was getting up from the dining room table to get ready to welcome the girls back home and get dinner ready for the family. I was doing the same thing at my house.
Bible study met on Thursday mornings at 9:30. Most weeks, she would finish the week’s homework on Wednesday afternoon. I would leave my office and run by her house to pick up the work she had placed in her mailbox. As soon as my family was fed dinner, I would leave my husband in charge and run to the church and begin copying the homework, loading it in the back of my mini-van as I finished. Each week was more than 30 pages in length. On Thursday morning, I would unload the mound of pages on to tables in the fellowship hall of my church. Ladies volunteered to come in early and put them together for the almost 300 women who would show up faithfully at 9:30. For those of you who are into details, that was over 9000 sheets of print each week!
I’m not sure either of us imagined what God was going to do with those studies. She wrote 3 studies for our little group before the first one was ever published. It was an amazing thing for me to hold that first workbook in my hand and then pass them out to my women for Bible Study. I was so blessed to share her hard work with my women. I still feel the very same way when someone calls to order a study for their women’s group or ask a question about the studies.
So, to answer that young woman’s question, “How do I get started writing Bible Studies?” I would tell you to work hard right where you are today. Use the talents, circumstances, and resources God has given you today. Study hard, surrounding yourself with good teachers. Be faithful with today’s gifts, trusting Him with the results of tomorrow. You just never know what may happen!