By Savannah Cooper
BRIDGETON—“An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” So begins the description of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31.
This woman is just one of several the young girls of the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home (MBCH) have the opportunity to study. Thanks to women from area Baptist churches, the girls at the Mt. Vernon and Bridgeton facilities are able to engage in a Bible study on the women in the Book of Proverbs.
The program began last July when the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) partnered with women from First Baptist, Carl Junction; First Baptist, Purcell; and First Baptist, Arnold, to minister to the girls at MBCH.
“We all experienced huge blessings in serving the girls and the workers at MBCH last year,” Wanda Shellenbarger, MBC women’s ministry consultant, said. “It was hard work, but it was worth every minute of travel and preparation time.”
The group was invited back this year, and on July 1, the women from First Arnold began leading the Bible study at the Bridgeton MBCH campus. On the last night of the study, the girls will have a “spa evening,” where they will receive pedicures and manicures.
The study is based around Beauty by the Book written by Laurie Cole, founder and president of Priority Ministries, whose purpose is to help women give God priority in their individual lives. Many churches across the country have used this study not only for girls but for women as well, and Shellenbarger encourages MBC churches to “take a look” at Beauty by the Book and see what it has to offer.
At the same time, Shellenbarger, herself a member of First Carl Junction, and MBC Women’s Ministry Southwest Regional Trainer Pam Melton, a member of First Purcell, have been leading a team of women from their respective churches, along with women from Journey Church in Joplin to teach Experiencing God for Youth to the girls at the Mt. Vernon MBCH facility. At the end of each of their studies, the girls have the opportunity to participate in fun activities, such as cake decorating and jewelry making.
While the girls are well taken care of, Shellenbarger said they have been hoping for someone to teach the boys, too.
“We have been praying the Lord would burden the heart of a man to step up to the plate to lead a study for the boys at the Mt. Vernon facility,” she said.
John Boyd is a member of Joplin’s Journey Church and has been working with some of the boys.
“John is doing a fantastic job teaching the Word of God to the boys,” Shellenbarger said. “They’ve asked some really tough questions, but he’s been able to take them to God’s Word for the answers.”
Shellenbarger is excited about what they’ve been able to accomplish and hopes more churches will become involved.
“We praise the Lord for giving us the opportunity to play a small part in the lives of precious boys and girls coming through our Missouri Baptist Children’s Homes,” she said, adding, “Just a little bit of time invested can mean a world of difference in the life of a child. A sweet, precious, beautiful, darlin’ little 10-year-old girl came up to me as we were leaving last week and said, ‘Thank you, Miss Wanda, for doing this for us.’ That made every bit of energy and time expended worth it all.”