Overcoming Doubts and Fears through Bible Study

Community Bible Study in Germany

The two women could not have been more opposite. Katrin* came from a secular background, worked in the medical field, and had never read the Bible, while Damaris had been raised in a strong Christian environment. Katrin exuded confidence while Damaris suffered from crippling shyness. Yet both women found themselves attending the bilingual women’s Bible study group of 50 women. Jessie, a Greater Europe Mission worker in Western Europe, co-led the group along with a team of discussion group leaders.

“No. No, I just don’t understand this,” Katrin would say whenever she read something in Scripture that struck a discordant note. “I don’t like it.”

Katrin grappled openly with difficult-to-understand concepts and Old Testament stories, yet she kept coming back, drawn to the love of Jesus shown to her through the women in the class. The stylishly dressed woman with short, dark hair did not consider herself to be a Christian, but being single and living far from family, she enjoyed the sense of community the class offered. Katrin even volunteered to prepare food each week for the opening social time.

Jessie continued to accept Katrin’s help with gratitude. She and the other women in the class encouraged her to continue prayerfully wrestling with Scripture and to consider the claims of Jesus.

Damaris, on the other hand, had trusted Christ in childhood. A petite woman with curly blonde hair, Damaris had years of Bible study and spiritual growth behind her. However, a devastating lack of self-confidence kept her sitting in the back row, fearful of failure, never speaking up. Jessie could see that perfectionism had a stranglehold on Damaris. She was musically gifted, yet her talents remained unused as she practically hid herself behind the other women in the group. 

Knowing Damaris could play the piano and guitar, Jessie persuaded her to help lead worship at the Bible study. At first, Damaris refused to play anywhere near the microphone, not wanting anyone to hear if by chance she hit a wrong key or strummed a wrong chord. Whenever she took her place up front with her instrument, she blushed and stammered. In her discussion group, although she had many insightful things to say, she remained silent, fearful of saying the “wrong” thing.

Still, she showed up faithfully to the Bible study every week. 

As time went by, something began to change in Damaris. She recognized that the women genuinely enjoyed her accompaniment to their singing. Gradually, she began to relax. Daring to speak up now and then, she could see her insights affecting the other women positively. As she interacted with the women, Damaris increasingly began to share with them how she was growing in her faith and how God was answering her prayers. 

Meanwhile, Katrin kept shaking her head as she studied the Bible. She continued to bluntly declare her dislike for certain doctrines she found hard to understand. Katrin was openly skeptical whenever another woman in the class claimed the Holy Spirit had spoken to her or taught her something.

Then one day, after eight years of attending the Bible study, Katrin sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to her. She felt the Lord calling her to a deeper commitment. 

“I want to get baptized,” she told Jessie. “I finally understand how much I need Jesus.”

These two women, each with her own unique personality and challenges, are being changed by God through a long-standing ministry. The Bible study class led by Jessie has been around for over 25 years. The handful of women who started it could never have imagined how much it would grow––and how many lives it would touch. 

“The class has been pivotal for this region,” says Jessie. “Four other classes have come out of it, established in different locations, because women have moved away but didn’t want to leave the class behind. They started new ones, and two of them include men.”

Overcoming Doubts and Fears through Bible Study

She continues, “Most recently, I have seen Katrin soften and yield to the love of Jesus, and I’ve watched Damaris grow thicker skin and toughen up a bit when it comes to using her gifts publicly. Both of them have grown spiritually in striking ways.”

Jessie’s goal has always been to cultivate an environment where women can grow in discipleship and grow into what God has called them to do and be. 

“I’m not polished or perfect in any way,” she says, “but when I took on leadership of the class, I felt my calling was to help everybody else rise up—to encourage them to be authentic and real, so that those around them feel they can be genuine also.

“There is a tendency [for believers here] to believe they must be thoroughly trained and qualified in order to speak out about Scripture. They can have an ‘I don’t want to overstep my qualifications’ mentality. But in this class community, through discipleship, we are all learning to share more openly with each other and thus spur each other on to spiritual growth.”

“I have a desire for these ladies to encounter more of God,” says Jessie. “We can all study the Bible on our own, or we can have social groups, but this women’s class provides an opportunity to encounter those two things together. So, I ask the Lord to show up in a powerful way, so that we will all grow in our faith and knowledge of him, and he will be honored.” 

*Names and some details have been changed for privacy.

About the Author: Jenny Garrity is a Storyteller with Greater Europe Mission. Jenny and her husband Kim joined GEM in 1984. They have served in Germany, Belgium, and most recently, Greece in response to the refugee crisis. | Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash