POTOSI – With Bibles open to learn and hearts open to receive, 197 women hung on every word Bev McCulloch had to say.
“God wants a woman with a contented heart,” McCulloch said. “Show your faith by your smile and your rested sigh. Can you imagine the difference it would make in a marriage if every day the husband were aware that his wife was happy with what she had, and was happy with him? Think what children would learn about building their own home if they saw mother filled with the joy of Jesus, contentment, and love.”
Women of all ages gathered Sept. 15-16 for the Mineral Area Women’s Retreat at Bates Creek Camp in rural Potosi. A dedicated crew of women from Potosi Southern Baptist Church sponsors the annual retreat. A labor of love, volunteers worked for months in advance to provide the women in the Mineral area (which includes several counties in eastern Missouri) an opportunity for respite, renewal and refilling at their retreat.
“I firmly believe that Christian women need each other,” said McCulloch, retreat speaker and long-time choir director at Potosi Southern. “They need to hear words of encouragement in a world that has gone crazy. They need to have small group time to share their needs and broken hearts. They need to laugh. And, most of all, it’s so very good to get a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit and to return to their families filled and ready for the next thing they will meet.”
McCulloch, 74, has spoken at the retreat every year since it started 23 years ago. A gifted writer, speaker and worship director, McCulloch pens much of the material herself.
“The hardest part is getting started, so I begin my search for what God is up to,” McCulloch said. “God is so amazing and so faithful. I may start one direction and He takes me another way. I’m always blown away by how He puts it all together. I do a lot of smiling and praising as I work!”
Not only does McCulloch write and teach each Bible session throughout the retreat, she also leads the worship time with her keyboard and writes the script for the “Simpson Sisters,” an ongoing comedy sketch she created that leaves the women howling with laughter year after year.
“I love character-writing and with the Simpson Sisters I can poke fun at how we as Christians sometimes toot our own horns in ministry and share the funny stories surrounding church life,” she said. “It’s light and we have a lot of fun.”
When McCulloch is not writing for or leading at the retreat, she is busy working (and playing) with her beloved church choir, which she has directed for 52 years.
“We have about 45 members and they will sing your socks off,” she said. “People tell me I’m a good choir director and I’m quick to tell them, ‘I’m only as good as the choir is faithful. They come to practice. They are called to praise. They know their job and that makes my job easy.’”
While the annual women’s retreat, other speaking opportunities and directing the church choir might seem like enough to fill the retired music teacher’s calendar, McCulloch still finds time for one more ministry that she loves.
“After I retired, I was approached about leading a community Bible study,” she said. “These girls are hungry for the Word and fellowship with other Christian women.”
McCulloch has taught the group for 21 years. They enroll between 70-80 women from all denominations and they come together to pray for the nation, as well as each other.
“We sing God’s praise and then grab a cup of coffee and some goodies and head for the study room,” McCulloch said. “I am so blessed to get to do this. It is not a chore. It is an honor, and I learn more and more about my amazing Lord every single study.”
While McCulloch said she plans to continue to serve and walk through open doors as long as the Lord allows, she prays the Lord will be blatant when it’s time for her to slow down or stop. She has lived with autoimmune diseases since she retired from thirty years of teaching at age 51, and while there are logistics to consider when she teaches, McCulloch said as long as God keeps filling her, she will keep doing it.
“If God provides opportunities then I know He’s in it,” she said. “I haven’t had much control over it so far so I’ll just see where the Lord leads all the way through. I love music and I love to teach, and the Lord has let me combine these two great pleasures all these years. I’m so blessed.”