It all began in January when founder Jaime Forrest made a New Year’s resolution.
“I was at church watching a video clip they were playing about New Year’s resolutions. I knew I didn’t care to diet, stop eating chocolate or make a huge goal I knew I couldn’t reach. So I prayed about it for a while, and one day out of the blue I realized I have so many girlfriends, and I wanted to pull us all together for Bible study,” Forrest, 27, said.
“Until we started our study, there were a handful of girls who didn’t have a church home and probably didn’t feel comfortable talking about religion. I have grown up with most of these girls since we were in elementary school here in Lebanon, and the others I have been friends with since high school.
“I had complete faith this group would be trusting, honest and comfortable. Pulling all denominations together to study the Bible probably seemed unreal to some people, but we all love and respect each other no matter what.
“We had our first meeting, and it went phenomenal. We had Mix and Mingle Art with Megan McDonald from Carthage, and we all painted crosses together, got to know each other and had our first devotional on marriage and relationships given by my mother-in-law, Tammy Forrest,” said Jaime, who grew up a member of Immanuel Baptist Church.
Jaime’s husband, Justin, was a member of Highland Heights Church of Christ. The couple and their son, Andrew, 6, recently joined the College Hills Church of Christ.
“Most of the girls are moms. We might have maybe three to five girls who aren’t married or don’t have children,” said Jaime, who does marketing for Lebanon dental surgeon Dr. Russell Kirk. “A few of the moms are homemakers, but most of them are in the work force. We have quite a few nurses, some in marketing, some in legal, some teachers and some going to school.
“Bobbie-Jo (Thompson), my right-hand friend who helped me get this going, and I went to LifeWay (bookstore) and decided to do a Beth Moore study on the book of Esther. Everyone got the study books, and we borrowed the video from Immanuel. Now we meet once a month. We eat together, sit around and catch up, pray and do our study.”
Thompson, 27, who is leading the devotionals centered on Esther, believes the girlfriends came together through the providence of God and that by studying and sharing their lives all are growing stronger.
“We’re learning more about the struggles in each girls’ life and through their prayer lives. We see that it is tough being a woman through our study of Esther,” said the dental hygiene student, who has a 16-month-old daughter, McKenzie-Jo, and worships with her husband, Nick, at Highland Heights Church of Christ.
“We don’t go out and push anything, but if somebody wants to come up and talk about God, we love to do it,” Thompson said. “We’re there for anything. We’ve got some pretty strong girls in our group.”
“It’s really a sisterhood,” said member Hannah Porterfield, 26, “To know that you have people there who are rooting for you and wanting you to be the best that you can be and to have that accountability with people who have the same goals.
“Our relationships are on all different levels. Some of us have known each other for 15 to 20 years, but also we are meeting people, new friends, that we are forming bonds with. We are able to talk to each other and share things and help each other through things,” said the registered nurse who works in the operating room at University Medical Center as well as in neonatal ICU at Baptist Hospital in Nashville. Porterfield, her husband, David, and step-daughter, Jaycee, 5, have been visiting West Haven Baptist Church.
The GBG girls’ illuminating pink T-shirts bear the words from Matthew 5:16 on the back: “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Beth Petty, coordinator of the Lebanon Special School District Family Resource Center, uses the young women as volunteers and has seen how their hearts shine across Lebanon.
“They pretty much hit the Family Resource Center like a whirlwind. There is no job that they will shy away from. Any project we have asked them to help with, they are enthusiastic and take the leadership roles,” Petty said.
“Sometimes when people volunteer, it is hard to find something to keep the people busy. These girls just find jobs that need to be done and are ready to go out on their own and do them without guidance. Once you tell them what needs to be done, they attack it.”
The Family Resource Center’s job is to help strengthen families within the Lebanon Special School District by providing basic physical needs. The center also offers a series of parenting workshops. The GBG girls have assisted by supplying some of those needs and also aided in a basic financial training workshop, teaching participants how to use coupons and save on grocery bills.
Earlier this year the Girlfriends Bible Group received the first Family Resource Center Volunteer Group of the Year award.
Writer Ken Beck may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.