BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–Responding to a growing number of requests for Bible study materials, national Woman’s Missionary Union has published the first two books in a new Bible study series, “Timeless Bible Truths for the 21st Century Woman.”
The first two titles are “Women of Faith: Living Lives That Matter,” by Carolyn Dipboye of Oak Ridge, Tenn., and “Until Christ is Formed in You,” by Velma Darbo Stevens of Fort Worth, Texas. A third book will be released in the summer of 2000.
According to Jan Turrentine, WMU’s managing editor for products, these books were produced in response to an expressed need for Bible studies written by women and for women. She said WMU recognizes that Bible study groups are growing not only in number but also in depth, and these books address those needs.
In writing “Until Christ is Formed in You,” Stevens hoped that studying Christian character traits “would inspire women to a newer and deeper understanding and appreciation of those qualities.” She sees this study as a primer for Christian growth.
Virtues such as faith and wisdom, power and persistence, kindness and friendship, and mercy and forgiveness are addressed with contemporary anecdotes and applications.
Stevens recommends that groups study the characteristics in the order presented “because they build from self-worth to love like stair steps.” After the initial study of the book, a woman could revisit the particular chapters that address a timely need in her life.
Stevens says she has personally lived a lifetime of trying to grow these characteristics, and she believes that the chapter on “Growing in Power and Persistence” may be the most difficult for women today to apply because of our cultural conditioning. She acknowledges that women are taught to be gentle, a godly characteristic in itself, but that power is seen as a masculine virtue.
Another trait that may evoke a struggle is that of “Growing in Gratitude and Generosity.” Stevens relates the story of a young pastor’s wife who was overwhelmed with gifts and acts of kindness by the members of their new pastorate. The young woman thought, since she had always been taught that it was better to give than to receive, she must find some way to “repay” those acts of kindness. Stevens attempted to teach her that a simple “Thank you” was sufficient, but she knows women do experience a need to reciprocate for gifts and thoughtful acts.
“Women of Faith: Living Lives That Matter” details the stories of several women of the Bible with a view to relating their examples to present-day women. According to writer Dipboye, contemporary women learn “how to be faithful in the time and circumstances in which we live” by studying women of the Bible.
Dipboye points out that the women studied are diverse: Deborah contrasts to Priscilla; Rahab to the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31. Each woman, however, teaches a lesson in faithfulness, the focus of the book.
Dipboye believes that faithfulness “is about day-to-day learning and growing, being and doing. It is the journey inward into ongoing spiritual renewal and growth, but it is also the journey outward in Christian service.” She expands these lessons of faith to teach contemporary women the value of faithfulness in today’s world.
Turrentine said the books may be used for individual study or by small groups, such as Bible study groups, Sunday school classes or discussion forums. The format lends itself to group members studying one chapter per week and then participating in a discussion group with other students. Each book contains helpful exercises at the end of each chapter which are designed to “move women from studying the Bible to actually doing something as a result of what they understand the Bible to say to them,” she noted.
Woman’s Missionary Union is looking at possible topics for the future, but final plans will be based on the response to the first books, Turrentine added.
The Timeless Bible Truths series is available in LifeWay Christian Book Stores or through WMU’s Customer Service, 1-800-968-7301. Each book costs $8.99.
Barstow is a freelance writer from Northport, Ala.
Scans of the book covers are available from WMU upon request.