What does a group of women want to do when you bring them together without an agenda? They want to tell stories, their stories, and then share with each other through the stories of women in scripture. It was a somewhat anxiety-inducing event. We wanted to learn from women followers of Jesus from Moslem cultures how they grew and matured in their faith; so we had the privilege of bringing together ten women from eight nationalities to learn how to learn together.
As we planned our event, we decided we would simply have the theme of discipleship. That was our agenda. Part of the learning for us was how to let go of a formal way of exploring the topic. How would the women share and explore this together?
They shared their stories. We shared our stories. We reflected on Bible stories and found our stories together woven into God’s great story. Our stories, as different as they were and are, were told in different ways in the stories of women’s lives in the scriptures. Some of us had faced life-changing decisions; for some, there was a deep sense of rejection. Others shared their ongoing challenge of a safe space in which to live their faith.
Rahab and Abagail, the woman ‘caught’ in adultery, the Samaritan woman, Hagar and the Syrophoenician woman; each one of these sisters in our faith story revealed something more of God, spoke into the issues we have had to deal with and continue to negotiate in our everyday lives. Questions of identity and belonging; purity, shame and honour; and what it is to be made new in Christ were all explored as women found their personal story in God’s great story.
A male colleague asked us to share what we learned so that a course could be written on the basis of the learning. The collective response from the women was no; this is not a 'course'. By creating a safe space for shared journeying in faith, we learned that our discipleship is discovering together that all of our stories are reflected in different ways in God’s story; and letting his story reshape our story.