Rachel fumbled the maroon covered Bible in her hands and with a look of confusion on her face said, "Wait. Where now?"
"Luke 11, verse 2," Pastor repeated.
She flipped the pages through her fingers several times and said, "These are all mixed up".
I set my own Bible aside and vacated the overstuffed chair. I asked, "Rachel, can I help you?" She was a new addition to our Bible study, a young woman in her early twenties looking for a church home. She tucked her medium length black hair behind her ear before handing me her Bible.
"The Bible is divided into two parts—the Old Testament and the New Testament and the New Testament starts with the four gospels. Luke is one of the gospels. See, here it is,” I informed her. I pointed to the upper left corner before handing the Bible back to her.
She said, "Thanks. I didn't know," and She tried to hide her nervousness with a laugh. I took my seat again, locating the passage myself, before glancing over at Rachel. Her brown eyes appeared blank and she pushed the black framed glasses up on her nose as she whispered, "Debbi, mine doesn't have any chapters."
"Rachel, the big numbers are the chapters and the small numbers are the verses." The blank eyes changed to a sparkle and she expressed another nervous laugh as she said, "Oh, I see. I didn't know."
I responded, "That's okay, that's how we learn."
I continued to help her through Bible study, letting her find the books with some well worded clues from me. Joy covered her face each time she succeeded and that nervous laughter changed to laughs of triumph. As I watched her, a wave of sadness overcame me. This is America, a land founded on religious freedom, and here was a young woman who had not been exposed to God's Word. Her numerous questions covered a range of topics—the Ten Commandments, baptism, communion, crucifixion, resurrection.
I left Bible study that night, waving to Rachel as she climbed into the passenger side of her grandmother's rusty four-door sedan. "See you next week," she hollered to me.
My thoughts drifted back to Rachel many times that week so I took the opportunity to swing into the Bethesda thrift shop before we convened again. The used books had been neatly organized on shelves that reached three quarters of the way to the ceiling. The "Religious" label had been thumb tacked to a shelf located beside a silver haired man who sorted books from the top of a dark gray industrial cart. I found the Bibles on the second shelf down and selected one that still appeared to have the binding in decent shape. I pulled it out and vetoed it quickly. The corner of the cover was missing. I selected another and sighed—missing pages. The next one, marked up like a college textbook, left no room for Rachel to make her own notes in the margin. One by one, I inspected the Bibles and returned each one to their designated space.
"Is this all of the Bibles?" I asked the gentleman.
"Let me check in the back for you," he replied before disappearing. When he returned, he pushed a shorter stainless steel cart and smiled. "These may be more to your liking."
I picked one off the stack, but it had been the one underneath that commanded my attention. The gold lettering on the black cover looked as though it had just been embossed. I set down the one I held and opened the cover, gliding my fingers over the pages. I'm not sure it's cover had ever been opened. Someone else's loss would be Rachel's gain.
In the next aisle, I overheard a conversation about the Christian Women Luncheons that took place once upon a time in Green Bay. I enjoyed the events and had been disappointed when word came that they would be cancelled. I stepped around the corner to see if I knew the women and came face to face with the two of them. I said to them, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but I used to attend those luncheons. My friend, Irene, who helped with them, invited me."
"Irene? She is a lovely lady,” they said. We conversed about our mutual acquaintance and the luncheons before one of them noted the Bible in my hand.
"Yes, I am getting this for a young lady in Bible study who is in need of a little guidance. She has very limited, if any, knowledge of the Bible—how it is laid out, what it says, etcetera," I shared.
One of the women started digging in her oversize handbag. "I think I have just what you need," she said as she handed me a book mark listing the layout of the Bible—Law, History, Prophets, Gospels, Epistles and so on. I hugged her as I said a prayer thanking God for His divine intervention.
Sunday morning, I spied Rachel at church. "Hey, I have something for you," I said as I pulled the Bible out of my bag and handed it to her.
Her brown eyes widened and she ran her fingertips over the cover. "I never had my own Bible," she said, as she hugged me.
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)
We all know this was no coincidence. God provided me the opportunity to share the Gospel with the help of the Holy Spirit. I'm not a teacher or a theologian, but somehow - this young lady attached herself to me and I knew I needed to guide her in God's Word. Providing it to her is only the beginning of God’s plan in her life.
Father in Heaven, thank You for guiding me and providing me with the tools I need to share Your Word. I ask for direction as I help guide this young lady in her desire to know You. Continue to bless me with eyes to see You in all I do and say. Amen.
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Thanks from the Gospel Outreach Committee!