Work. It’s such a huge part of our lives, and the people we work with often become some of our dearest friends and closest confidants. I’ve worked on different units and in different hospitals over the last 15 years in both Harford and Baltimore counties, but it wasn’t until I landed in my dream job in labor and delivery that I found a group of nurses that I really clicked with. The bonds that have been formed there are invaluable. There is a unique sense of camaraderie and fellowship that we share both inside and out of work. For years, we have grown in our friendships. Many of us have been pregnant together and our children have grown up together. There have been countless celebrations: weddings, babies, graduations, and milestone birthdays. Despite all the good we’ve experienced, we’ve also banded together and faced terrible loss together. We feel each other’s tragedies just as personally as if they were our own.
While we’re at work we talk about everything. We talk about the weather, talk about our kids, talk about our weekend, but when it comes to talking about God or the gospel, the conversation often grew silent. Our culture has made openly talking about the gospel, especially at work, the epitome of taboo. About a year ago, two of us decided to start doing a women’s Bible study together, and prayerfully invited our friends from work. We were overwhelmed when the women’s Bible study group quickly grew from the 2 of us to over 15 women! God had called us way out of our comfort zone to a place of vulnerability, and the chains that bound the gospel conversation at work were broken.
This precious group of nurses in Harford County, MD, started meeting in homes. Children in tow, we opened the Bible together and had intentional conversations and study about God. For some, it was the first time opening a Bible to learn on their own. For others, there was a foundation of biblical knowledge but the women’s Bible study group provides a unique level of accountability.
Reading the Bible can often feel confusing. We often want to pick up the Bible and walk away feeling encouraged, but sometimes the difficulty of the text makes it so hard that you don’t even want to pick it up and start. I often neglected to read the Bible for myself because I had not been taught the tools that are so helpful to understanding what I was reading. Once I had gathered some helpful tips and tools, putting them into practice while I read my Bible was a whole new experience for me.
During our weekly study, we use a number of these techniques throughout the Bible study workbook that we are going through. Over the last year, we’ve covered the entire book of Genesis, Colossians, Esther, and Ruth. We also did a 5 week overview of the “story of the Bible”. This winter, we are planning to jump into the book of Hebrews. During our time together we discuss the homework questions associated with that week’s text. After our discussion time, each person will listen to the teaching associated with that week’s lesson. This style of learning helps us to read the Bible and learn to ask the questions necessary for understanding the intention of the text. We view it from the lens of the intended reader to really get a better understanding for what the text means for us today. Familiar passages and characters of the Bible have taken on whole new meaning for me as we have gone through these passages together.
One of the newer members of the women’s Bible study group, Jen, had this to say about the group. “Being a part of this women’s bible study has changed my life in ways I never thought were possible and has helped me to not only know God, but to have a relationship with Him. Having been raised Roman Catholic, I have always been a believer in God and Jesus. I went to Sunday school, church on holidays, and had all of my “check boxes” marked that I was told had to be done in order to get into heaven. Growing up, I remember a Bible being in the house, but we never opened it or read from it. Before this Bible study, I only knew the main stories of creation, Noah’s Ark, and the story of Jesus, all from what I could remember from Sunday school. I truly believe God called me to this study when I was feeling overwhelmed with fear of the new COVID-19 virus, and happened to just come across a post on Facebook for the women’s Bible study group. The first meeting I was nervous, I had never been to a Bible study before and had no idea what to expect. I immediately felt a renewed sense of hope and belonging being among this amazing group of women who all came to worship God and study the word. The best part was, it was ok that I knew very little and had lots of questions. Our women’s Bible study group leader, Amy, is always willing to help me understand and inspires me to learn more and delve deeper into the word. The knowledge I now have and will continue to develop as I study with this women’s Bible study group is invaluable and I am so blessed to be loved so much by God. God knew exactly what I needed… Him, and He provided as He always does. In knowing and building a relationship with God, I am no longer the same person I was almost a year ago when I joined this women’s Bible study group. I listen to Christian music, pray and talk to God, talk to others about God and spread the good news, read the Bible and make church a priority every week. I view the world we live in as temporary which has changed my whole perspective, and that in itself is freeing. I have a deeper understanding of the sacrificial love of Jesus, and now know that I don’t need to check off boxes to be a good Christian. I am beyond blessed and do not want to think about where I would be if I hadn’t joined this Bible study. I am anxiously waiting to start our new study and continue my journey in strengthening my faith and relationship with God.”
Another one of our nurses, Tracy, has been meeting with our women’s Bible study group since the very beginning. “I have always been a better student of God’s Word when I have been in community with others on this path. Pursuing deep dives, sharing insights, shedding new light on the stories and passages I’ve read or heard before with fellow believers is inspiring. There are several things about this particular association that delight me. First, we are familiar with one another, mostly from our occupation, bringing some common footing and, therefore, comfort in a safe space. Secondly, almost sounding contradictory, we come from different backgrounds, different generations, different denominations, and different stages in our walk with Christ. This brings so many perspectives to the discussion. Like looking at a faceted gem from all sides and in different light, you’ll find the colors and the refractions nuanced and beautiful. Thirdly, as a spiritual discipline, it holds us accountable. It can tether us when we tend to drift. And I need a yank on that rope from time to time. I value these women and our time together immensely.”
I can’t begin to express how much I love the ladies in this women’s Bible study group. Having the common bond in Christ, and regularly meeting and discussing the Bible together has taken our already sweet friendship and turned it into a deeper fellowship. When a few of us are scheduled together, it’s not uncommon to hear us talking in the break room or in the nurses station about the passage we have been reading that week, or asking questions about something that isn’t entirely clear. What a sweet realization to know that your co-workers and friends are also your sisters in Christ.
Even though the majority of us are nurses, we are always open to expanding our Harford County, MD, women’s Bible study group. We will continue to meet regularly during the school year via zoom and in person depending on the comfort level of the participant. If you would like more information or would like to join our Harford County, MD, women’s Bible study group, please contact us for details at https://cornerstonejoppa.org/community-groups/.