Making Christian Friends
Head over heels
I was drawn to Victoria the instant I met her. It was at the 2016 Thanksgiving potluck for Capital Group Christian Life Groups, the Christian community at the company where we work together. As a new believer, I wanted to make Christian friends, but I hadn't yet formed those relationships.
Victoria had an immediate effect on me. She projected both a vibrant light as well as a calming peace. "When someone is in love with God, everything they do is healing," she once told me. Victoria is in love with God, and she radiates the same vibrancy that we experience in that head-over-heels stage.
When I heard that Victoria was leading a Friday lunchtime Bible study at Capital Group, I blocked the time on my calendar. I went regularly every week and began to make Christian friends with the other women who attended. One of the first studies Victoria led was on Romans. I admit that I always struggle to understand Romans. Victoria would lead us through the Word, pointing out certain phrases and key points in the passages. "What does it say?" she would ask. At times I didn't know at first... but I could still feel God in the room, guiding me to understanding. My husband Elijah noticed how I became happier and more energetic when I spoke of the studies and the time that Victoria and I spent in prayer together.
Victoria invited me to volunteer with her at our local church, Saddleback Church in Irvine. Through the PEACE Center food pantry, we distributed groceries to those in need. I admired the way Victoria served those in need with a selfless and generous heart. Working side-by-side with my mentor brought us even closer as we were united in our pursuit to obey God. "I love serving together with you,"she told me. After our shift, we would grab food or coffee and discuss our favorite Bible verses. I always thought that to make Christian friends, I would need to talk about the Bible all the time. While Victoria can be very serious about the Word, she is yet so lighthearted about stories and funny moments in her life. Her laughter is warm and easy.
“How can I fill your shoes?” I asked Victoria.
Filling her shoes
When Victoria was out of town, she asked if I'd like to lead the group in her absence. "How can I fill your shoes?" I asked her. She encouraged me that I was equipped, so I agreed. When she returned from vacation, she asked me how it went. "Well," I began. "Only two people came, and we only made it through half the study guide."
"Great!" she replied, as if she hadn't heard me. "Would you like to co-host with me?" Honored that she asked me, I said yes.
Well, it turned out that co-hosting meant that I led the studies, while Victoria sat by my side. Just having her next to me and being in her presence gave me the bravery to lead the group. When other ministry opportunities called her elsewhere and she stepped away from the group entirely, God assured me that He would give me the ability to lead on my own. I continued to make Christian friends and grow in my knowledge as I facilitated the group every Friday. Victoria still mentored me whenever I had questions. She offered guidance humbly and willingly in service to God.
Making another Christian friend
When God sent me new priorities and missions, I knew it someone else's season to lead the Friday group. I prayed to God to send someone who was faithful and passionate. He sent Madison. Her lively spark and eager freshness captivated me. Having just graduated from college, she has a youthful innocence so sweet that it makes my heart ache. We grew close and enjoy our catching up over coffee, sharing song recommendations, and going to Christian music concerts together. She is a gifted pianist with a beautiful voice. "When I sing praise songs to God, everything else melts away," she told me. Singing songs to God was always something that brought me peace in the midst in the midst of anxiety. I never thought that it would help me make Christian friends. At a Christmas concert we went to with our husbands, we saw the band I Am They. Whenever I hear the song "Meant for me," I remember Madison lifting her hands in praise.
"It is finished"
Madison and I attend the same church together with our husbands and discuss the sermons. One verse that means a lot to us is Jesus's last saying on the cross: "It is finished." This verse reminds us that Jesus has paid for all our sins, past and present, and we will never again be burdened by our sins, if only we will give them to Him. I think of Madison whenever I hear this verse. I had prayed to God to help me make Christian friends, and He gave me a study partner too.
Madison attended the Friday group regularly. "It's the highlight of my week," she always told me, her smile making her even more lovely. When I asked her if she could take the hosting responsibilities for the group, she asked me, "How can I fill your shoes?" I remember asking the exact same question of Victoria! Madison prayed for clarity to determine if God was calling her to lead the group. She has now led several sessions. Her enthusiasm and passion invite God to dwell among us. Filled with the Holy Spirit, she is a leader "after God's own heart," just like King David in the book of 1 Samuel, which we are currently studying in her group. I am grateful for and proud of her.
Part of the reason I joined Capital Group Christian Life Groups was to make Christian friends. But God gave me more than that. In Madison and Victoria, He brought me loyal sisters who I will love forever, in this life and in Heaven. Together we have led the Friday Bible study and taught God's word in faithful service to Him.
For more on Madison, read this article on God's timing.
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