by Kate Brand
The Christmas story includes a familiar passage that caught my eye this morning: “Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth….
...And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home” (Luke Chapter 1, NASB).
You’ll remember that Mary had just been told by the angel Gabriel that she would supernaturally become the virgin mother of the Savior of the world! As the stunned young girl tried to comprehend the shocking news, the angel announced that her barren, aged, (post-menopausal) relative, Elizabeth was already 6-months pregnant. “For nothing will be impossible with God!”
What was Mary’s immediate reaction after the angel left? She hurriedly packed her things and traveled (possibly three days) to see the older woman in her life who could speak into her circumstances with godly wisdom, faith, and understanding.
Mary spent three months with Elizabeth. Can you imagine their private conversations? Together they prayed and praised and pondered. Surely Elizabeth listened attentively and encouraged Mary in what she would be facing. How would she tell Joseph? Would he believe her story? How should she respond if her own mother and father think she has disappointed them? How do you go about mothering the Son of God?
The Lord gave Mary the support and loving wisdom of an older, godly woman who even shared a similar experience of trusting God. And undoubtedly the encouragement and inspiration went both ways in this relationship.
Have you ever had an older woman take an interest in you and make a positive difference in your spiritual life?
Jacquie Tanner, was that woman for me during my college years. Each week she led a small group of young women through various Bible studies. Discussions ranged from Jesus’ claims of divinity to how to make Russian tea. In the loving, safe, confidential setting of her home, we opened our hearts and Jacquie spoke into our lives. It was a life-changing experience during a formative stage in my faith.
Mary’s time with Elizabeth was three months. My time with Jacquie lasted three years. Some of you have had informal, life-long mentoring relationships while others have taken part in structured programs. At Redeemer Bible Church, we celebrate all the ways God brings older and younger women together to follow His instruction and design for the older women to “teach what is good... and encourage the younger women” (Titus 2:3-4).
As author Melissa Kruger explains, “Older women who have walked with the Lord have something greater than information to offer... The years have allowed the truth they know to marinate and flavor the life they lead... Scripture flows from their mouths because it’s been an anchor for their souls” (read her entire article here).
The women’s leadership team at Redeemer want to give every young woman at our church, single or married, the opportunity to be known by older, spiritually grounded women who are intentionally speaking into their lives. We know it’s a big vision, but we believe that God is leading us in this direction.
The Titus 2 mentor program we are beginning to shape will combine the benefits of a small, personal, organic ministry with the spiritual oversight, structure, and support of an established, formalized program. “Younger women,” will include those of you in your 20’s and 30’s, and possibly up to age 45.
Titus 2 will not replace small groups, Bible studies, informal mentoring relationships, or Theology nights. These intimate Titus 2 mentoring groups will meet only once per month so as not to interfere with ongoing commitments and events. And because there will be multiple groups happening, there will be a number of choices for what days and times you can meet.
Our intent is to hold the training and group selection process during January and February, with the Titus 2 Pilot Program to begin in March. Depending on COVID restrictions, some groups might opt to start with Zoom meetings.
Please pray for us as we move forward to plan and work through the logistics of this foundational ministry. Please be asking God if He might be calling you to be involved in this ministry in some way!