There's a Place for You at the Table!
By Genae Andris
Table [tey-buhl] noun
1. an article of furniture consisting of a flat, slab-like top, supported by legs or other supports
2. a time for the women of the church to gather in small groups to laugh, chat, and learn a new name or two in order to create a stronger community among all types of women
As different as these two descriptors of the same word are, they show one great similarity: Both need support in order to stand firm. As women, we need to know we aren’t holding it all up on our own!
The women at Bethany Baptist Church come from vastly varying backgrounds, walks of life, and experiences. With those different experiences come different needs. There are the single women who are looking for a friend—someone who is willing to listen and understand the struggles of trying to do it all on their own. A young mom is looking for a mentor—someone who has raised their children and has lived through the crazy season of life to tell the story—and maybe give some help as to how to do it successfully. And the veteran woman—she’s looking to find someone who will be near her as she tries to balance grown children, grandchildren, and also the care of her parents. How do we make it so these different lifestyles can join together in such a greatly populated church? It’s not easy, my friend. It’s much easier to stick to our already-formed peer groups. But I’ve learned that taking the steps toward unity is well worth it.
When Mura first asked me to participate in the Table events, I was excited to be part of something I’m so passionate about, yet I was skeptical... In recent years I’ve been saddened by the separation between my age group and those more experienced, but wondered how we could fix it. Our church is ginormous, and the generational gap seemingly unable to be bridged. But God (don’t you just love the “but God”s??) loves doing the seemingly impossible. So, I agreed and was quickly signed up with someone to co-lead my first Table event.
I was so excited as I received the email that revealed the name of who I had been partnered with to host and was ecstatic when I found out it was someone I was hoping to get to know better. We chatted a few days later and decided we would do what a southern belle and a country gal do best: a campfire! I couldn’t wait to see what God would do! However, an unexpected turn of events caused my co-host to step away. As always, though, God had a perfect plan. He placed Ann (a dear, dear friend) into the story to step in. At the campfire, ladies of all stages and walks of life shared testimonies of joys and struggles. God used this Table to introduce me to people at Bethany that I had seen but had not had the opportunity to get to know.
At the next Table, we met at the home of my co-leader. We had dessert and a craft, a wonderful group, and a sweet time of sharing. There was a young lady whom I had never met before, but had seen be baptized at Bethany. She shared joyfully how God was growing her and how happy she was to just be His child—what a sweet and simple testimony! God used this Table to encourage me through the faith of others.
My heart just wants to sing whenever I think of how great God orchestrated this next Table event. The leaders were set in place, and my co-leader asked if we could meet beforehand to pray over our time together and the ladies that would be participating. Of course, I agreed and we had a sweet time of sharing our backgrounds, discussing ideas, and praying. My co-leader, Holly, and I decided to have our event include making trail mix and hiking since the weather was perfect for a hike and we both love being out of doors. Well, the time of our event came, and it looked like it would storm through the entire morning. How sad! Holly got to praying for good weather and God’s grace. I started cleaning my house to prepare for “Plan B.” Would you believe the day came and that entire hike was filled with sunshine and deepening of relationships?!?
God used this Table to teach me that I should have met Holly a long time ago. Just kidding (but seriously). God taught me through this that He is sovereign. I can trust Him in all things. He cares for even little me.
God used each of these experiences to grow me and encourage me for my good and His glory. What a joy it is when we dwell together in unity as sisters!
I challenge you, dear friends: Find a way to be a friend to someone new—to be that leg to stand on.
Genae is an educator, a stay-at-home mother of 3, a budding photographer, and a wife of an engineer. She and her husband, Eric, married in 2008 and make their home in rural Dunlap. They have been members of Bethany Baptist Church since 2010.