When I was ten years old, my mother was baptized. I remember very well that Wednesday night when she handed me her purse during the invitation song and said, “I’m going down front. Wait here for me.” When the baptism was over, she came out to an almost empty auditorium, no throngs of people to welcome her to the Kingdom — in fact, very few could even call her by name. All she knew was that Jesus Himself had been baptized, and that He wanted her to be baptized to be saved. She needed to be discipled.
My parents had grown up in the hills of northwestern Arkansas, farming people living far from civilization like stores, post offices, neighbors, or churches. They had moved to California trying to make a living and ended up in Nashville, Tennessee, still trying to make a living. We came to Nashville in the blizzard of 1951, when I was just short of three years old. We rented an apartment from retired school teachers who were devout Christians. They asked permission to take me to Sunday School. Mother felt it was wrong for someone else to teach me about God and the Bible, so she went, too. Daddy never went.
When we moved, the landlord called the preacher at the Church of Christ nearest to our new house, and the preacher came to visit. He invited me to VBS, and Mother took me. She and I began to attend church there. We had been attending about five years when Mother was baptized, and, for the first time in any of our lives we were “churched” people.
No one ever called my mother to invite her to anything. We only had one set of friends — a family who had a daughter who was in my class in school. We have remained friends for the last sixty years. When I reached junior high, our friends moved to another church, and my mom and I soon followed. After seven years of being at that church every Sunday and Wednesday, not one person called us about leaving.
Mother never did receive discipling of any kind. But she stayed — she never left. She had two things to cling to — an abiding faith and a young daughter who needed to be in church. She didn’t know about the Holy Spirit or grace. She believed she would be justified by good works. She was ripe for discipling at a time when our fellowships didn’t talk about or do that sort of thing. I can’t help but wonder how many souls have left, unlike my mother, because working for salvation became too hard. I pray that our churches are trying to do better now. Following up with teaching, loving, discipling. I want to be part of that effort.
I’ve taught a ladies Bible class for years, but last fall God began to put on my heart a calling to do something more intimate with a smaller group. When Mike called and asked me to consider (for the second or third time) the Timothy Network, I felt like God had answered my prayers and shown me what I was asking for. My small discipling cell group has been one of God’s richest blessings for me. I thought I would be teaching and doing the discipling. I have done some teaching, but I have learned and been discipled more than I could ever express. I enter our room every Wednesday night with love and anticipation and joy. Sometimes I may also be exhausted and weary, but, even on those nights, I leave blessed and feeling like I have spent time with God.
For the first time in my life, I am trying to live out the second part of the Great Commission — “making disciples.” I take more seriously the example I live before others. I try to be aware of sisters who need this discipling relationship or can give this discipling relationship.
As for my mother, she is a lovely Christian lady. She never memorized a lot of Bible verses or taught classes. But she discipled me about being a godly wife and mother and grandmother. Surely, the apostle Peter was writing unknowingly about my mother when he penned 1 Peter 3:1-2. “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands, so that, if any of them to do not believe theword, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” Daddy became a Christian when he as sixty.
Gloria is a church elder’s wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, and disciple maker. She’s effective with all of this because she’s first and foremost a follower of Jesus Christ. Pictured above with her discipling group (left to right): Leslie Bogle, Ginny Pearcy, Gloria, Jennifer Boyd, and Marcie Castleberry.