Report: Bathed in Prayer & Centered on the Word: How God Led Us to Begin a Community Bible Study

January 2, 2020
James Dougherty

Recently retired with our five children scattered over many states, my wife Kathy and I wanted to be used for God’s glory in whatever time He gives us. To live in Florida was always our dream but after a few years of praying for the Lord’s leading, He opened the doors for us to return to South Jersey, where we were originally from and had lived for many years. As doors continually opened for our return there, my skepticism and reluctance to go back to a colder climate gradually diminished. The house we found was in a fifty-five and older development and was well over our price range. But after much prayer, we met a few believers at a diner, prayed about the property, and called the realtor with our offer. It was considerably less than the asking price, but it was the limit of what we could afford. The realtor sounded stunned at the offer, so I quickly followed up with, “We are not trying to beat the sellers down but this is the most we can afford. We have prayed about it and know if it is the Lord’s will, it will be accepted; if not, that’s ok, we’ll find the place He wants us to find.”

Later, When the realtor showed us the property, we had the opportunity to sit in the living room of our potential home and share the saving gospel of Jesus Christ to our agent for more than fifteen minutes. When I mentioned the Lord as we made the offer, she knew clearly where we were coming from. Without hearing any further word from her, we flew back to Florida. The following day while attending meeting, I received a text message to call our agent. She sounded astonished and said, “The sellers have accepted your offer exactly as presented.” “Praise the Lord,” I said! Reality was now sinking in that we would be leaving our Florida dream. But we remained steadfast in our desire to serve the Lord wherever and however He wanted.

Once we were settled in our new home, we met a few neighbors and asked if they would be interested in a home Bible study. Amazingly, a third of them responded positively. Our first meeting was intended to only be a planning meeting. However, since I truly believe the Lord’s coming is close, I felt the need to cover the gospel as clearly as possible and assure the group that the final authority was God’s Word, not mine. Not knowing where those in attendance stood spiritually, the meeting was very interesting to say the least. With about 6 to 8 people willing to start, we were feeling additional confirmation that this move was certainly the Lord’s will.
The group selected “Salvation and Eternal Security,” and due to the depth and importance of the topic, (with many “rabbit holes” along the way), it continued for about ten weeks. With each Monday night, the numbers increased. By the end of the first study topic, we had registered over thirty-two attendees. The group is quite a diverse group including saved, unsaved, Jewish, Catholic, and even a neighbor living in one of the “socially accepted,” alternative lifestyles. Again, more confirmation from the Lord that He was leading us in this pursuit.

One night, after prayer but before I started the study, someone in the group began asking questions which opened the flood gates to a night of questions. The night was extremely beneficial; far more than I realized. Over the week, I was told by one in the group that one of the ladies had accepted the Lord. I was thrilled. During the next study, I announced the great news to the group. The new believer grabbed her Bible, open it and said, “August 5, 2019, at 7:05pm, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior!” It was at that moment, I realized she was saved during our 6:30-7:30pm, Monday night study!

Looking back, I was concerned that we never got to our planned study that night, but remembered that, “interruptions can be divine appointments,” as was the case this night. After this profession of faith in Jesus Christ, we have clearly seen God’s hand in moving us here. We also see clearly that the harvest is ripe, and that Day is fast approaching. May we all say with the prophet Isaiah, “here I am; send me” (Isa. 6:8b).

Back in 1980, when my wife and I were saved, we listened to a gospel singer by the name of Keith Green. Keith is now with the Lord but many of his songs were cries (perhaps, more accurately pleas), for the Body of Christ to do more. The words from one of his songs have always spoken to me over the years and convicted me. From the song “Asleep in the Light,” one of the lines says “The church just can fight, ‘cause it’s asleep in the light! How can you be so dead, when you’ve been so well fed? Jesus rose from the grave, and you! You can’t even get out of bed. Jesus rose from the grave, and you! You can’t even get out of bed!”

May these words never apply to us as the Lord continues to draw all men to His Son.