Shine On: Joann’s Story

Shine On: Joann's Story

A letter from Evelyn McMullen, Bright Threads Ministries, Lakeland, FL

I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you how much your TOGETHER curriculum has enriched a weekly Bible Study at First Presbyterian Church in Lakeland. We began the group after hosting Night to Shine (Tim Tebow’s annual prom). We loved the celebration, but several of us on the leadership team wanted to offer spiritual support for the other 51 weeks of the year. We decided on a Wednesday night so that it would be part of the church’s midweek adult programming. An invitation in the next year’s Night to Shine gift bag brought three young men to “Shine On.” After 4 months, those guys invited their girlfriends and word spread! This fall (18 months after launch), we grew to 27 and asked the church for a new classroom. It has all been Friendship Evangelism!

TOGETHER curriculum has given our group familiar routines, conversation around the Word, and the opportunity to build friendships. The goal of inclusion has been slow. One young adult couple has made a commitment. We have been blessed with recently retired special education teachers who love studying the Bible with their former students. One of our more withdrawn group members recently invited her college buddy to Bible Study , and “Rachel” and Joyce have been enthusiastic participants ever since. Rachel shared her gift of friendship!

I am also attaching a photo with another story from the Pray?! unit, which really seemed to impact one of our participants. Here’s what I wrote her parents:

I wanted you to have a copy of this beautiful picture of Joann worshiping. We had been learning the phrase “forgive us our sins” (or trespasses or debts!) in the Lord’s Prayer. Each table group added words to paper chain links: sins of actions or attitudes that keep us away from God or each other. As we sang “Amazing Grace/ My Chains are Gone” each group brought their chain to the cross. Joann stayed in the front with Brittnie, who was signing the words. Joann was expressing her prayer as she danced.

Joann’s family has attended a small Methodist church for many years.  Joann’s mother replied that this brought tears to her eyes. “I can’t get her to come to church. But she loves Shine On!”

This week after our Christmas party, Joann’s mother told me that she has begun coming to worship with them again. “What you are doing here is helping her connect in a different way.”

The Spirit is moving and helping Joann, and many others, grow!

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