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That's Really in the Bible?

Edwin picked up a small booklet at the local ShopRite. He was feeling discouraged, and the Bible verses in the booklet brought some much-needed reassurance.

A few days later, Dan and Denise, Servant Partners staff in Philadelphia, put a bulky, white cabinet on the curb. The “Free” sign posted on it caught Edwin’s attention, and he knocked on their door to be sure that it was in fact free. It was, and Dan helped him carry it across the street.

Dan and Edwin began talking about their lives. Edwin shared honestly about the challenges with money, work, and family that he was facing and about the encouraging booklet from the grocery store. Dan asked if he was interested in learning more about the Bible and offered to have Edwin and his family over for dinner and a Bible study.  Edwin agreed to try it out.

Edwin, his wife Taina, and their three children came over for dinner a few days later. After a round of hamburgers and hot dogs, the adults jumped right into studying the second chapter of the gospel of Mark, where a paralytic man was lowered by his friends through a roof to be healed by Jesus. They were shocked that someone would tear a hole through the roof to get to Jesus, and Taina gave voice to this surprise, “That’s really in the Bible?!”

"This study was their first direct encounter with the Living Word, and they were shocked by it."

Even with some church background, Edwin and Taina learned most of what they knew of the Bible through rumors on the street. They had always thought the Bible was a just a book of rules and warnings:  “Thou shalt not steal,” and “Don’t use curse words,” and “Fidget-spinners are from the Devil.” This study was their first direct encounter with the Living Word, and they were shocked by it. They were hooked by the stories they read. They wanted to know more.

So the two couples decided to keep meeting and to alternate hosting the study. In their neighborhood in North Philly, the home is usually a private space reserved for family. Dan and Denise and Edwin and Taina extended meaningful hospitality as they opened their homes to each other. Since June, the two families have studied the book of Mark together to learn about Jesus and what the Kingdom of God is like.

Dan and Denise have been inspired by their new friends’ soft hearts to these lessons. That encouraging booklet at the grocery store has now turned into a weekly encounter with Jesus.  Edwin and Taina are devoted to the new way of life they have found.  Edwin has committed to making time for God through prayer and Bible study, and Taina offers to pray for personal struggles that Dan and Denise face, sending them encouraging texts throughout the week. Even though their life is chaotic, they keep showing up to Bible study, hungry for more.

For Edwin, life has been challenging; but in this Bible study and his new prayer life, Jesus is meeting him and showing him how to journey the challenging road of life with a newfound hope, and a newfound home. Edwin and Taina can see the change in their own lives and want that for others around them.  For Dan and Denise, they have been excited to have friends with whom they can journey together with Jesus.

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