discipleship in high heels
The Amazing Women of Free Will Baptist Bible College
by Carol Reid
Read more about Free Will Baptist Bible College at www.fwbbc.edu.
Christ’s command to “go and make disciples” was not just spoken to men. The women at Free Will Baptist Bible College feel strongly about our commission in this work as well. You’ll find the women employed at FWBBC also employed in kingdom work in a variety of ways.
Pastors’ Wives and Top Teachers
Three acknowledge the title of “Pastor’s Wife.” Robin Smith cashes checks and accepts school bill payments by day, but when she goes home she changes hats and becomes the quintessential pastor’s wife—singing, teaching, serving at Richland Free Will Baptist Church.
Linda Gladson’s story is similar. After her workday ends with the Adult Studies Degree program and the Registrar’s Office, she’s the first lady at Cofer’s Chapel Free Will Baptist Church. Rachel DeMerchant’s husband is starting a church in Lewisburg, Tennessee. So in addition to teaching Grammar and Composition classes and being “Mom” to one baby boy and about 100 men in Goen Hall, she shares her husband’s work as a church planter.
Then there are the teachers. Tina Tolbert directs college ministries at Cofer’s Chapel—teaching Sunday School and sponsoring social events for students in her classes—when she finishes her work as ADP director and Speech teacher at FWBBC. For four years, Jackie Rasar, Psychology program chair, has taught a class during teen week at Camp Hope (Illinois State Youth Camp). She is a co-teacher for college-age students at Cross Timbers Free Will Baptist Church.
Kathy Murphy (Teacher Education) teams with her mom to teach children’s church at Cane Ridge (formerly Woodbine) Free Will Baptist Church. Jill Ketteman (Financial Aid Office) and Rachel DeMerchant take their turns teaching children’s church. Jena Simpson (Adult Studies and Teacher Education secretary) teaches a weekly women’s Bible study class in her home, as well as a children’s class on Wednesday night.
From Music to Rescue Missions
FWBBC women are involved in discipling through music ministry. Susan Forlines (dean of women) plays the organ at Cross Timbers FWB Church, sings in the choir, directs the girls’ quartet, and substitutes as organist for the Veterans Hospital Service. Dr. Linda Shipley (Music faculty) plays the piano for her church and directs the Allegro School of Music. Lynsey Riggs (Development Office) and others sing solos, sing in the choir, and play offertories.
Numerous church ministries call FWBBC women into discipleship roles. Dr. Rebecca Deel (Business faculty) leads the Women Active for Christ (WAC) group at LaVergne Free Will Baptist Church. Sue Edgmon (Registrar’s Office) serves as Missions Study chair at Cross Timbers WAC. Dr. Shipley serves on her church staff as minister to senior adults. Jill Ketteman directs the hospitality ministry at Cross Timbers, in addition to her example of hospitality in her home.
But our discipleship ministries aren’t restricted to the church house. Barbara Riddle (Exercise Science and Teacher Education faculty) continues her volunteer work at Meals on Wheels, and after 20 years, says she has built strong friendships with the people she sees on a weekly basis. She also serves as a “transporter,” taking nursing home residents to church every Sunday.
Jena Simpson’s ministry through Hope Center at the Nashville Rescue Mission involves her as a prayer partner, adopting a special woman there. Lila Thompson (receptionist) distributes Christmas packages to prisoners at River Bend Maximum Security Prison every year.
Serving and Loving FWBBC Students
Every employee at FWBBC recognizes an important opportunity for discipleship—serving the Lord by loving and serving the students at FWBBC. In the classroom or office or dormitory, we see our work as nurturing FWBBC students to become leaders for our denomination, to be more like Christ because of their time here. We pray for them, care about them, become their friends.
This requires more than grading their papers or cashing their checks. It’s about intentional relationships, investing time and energy in the lives of others, formal and informal counseling, and constant awareness that the way we speak to others or the way we treat our husbands and children is under examination from them.
Like it or not, our faithfulness to Christ and His kingdom is up for their inspection. Those students, like Santa Claus, know when I’ve been bad or good, so I want to be good, for goodness’ sake! I am investing through example as well as through my work as a librarian.
That’s why Brenda Spruill (administrative assistant to the treasurer and president) takes time for a weekly “growth group” with students to work through a book on finding joy in our Christian walk. Lila Thompson has students over for meals and gives them rides to church. Others sponsor society and vocational groups, extending friendship and guidance. After they graduate and move on, students continue to connect with mentors and instructors—and those teacher/student relationships turn to true friendships over the years.
A long time ago, though, I realized my primary ministry for discipleship. As important as it may be, my primary ministry isn’t in the library or the classroom. It isn’t even at my local church in the nursery or the WAC meeting. It’s in my home. As a wife and mother and now mother-in-law and grandmother, my first responsibility is to disciple those the Lord has given me in my family.
Sure, I’m concerned about the babies at Cross Timbers, but I’m consumed by those red-headed granddaughters and teach and pray earnestly that their lives will be committed to Christ. Yes, I’m building relationships with those young men preparing for service here at FWBBC, but the two young men that are our sons require much more from me as far as instruction and diligent prayer. The young lady I mentor is very special to me, but I feel much more accountable to Christ for the relationship I have with my precious daughter-in-law.
So in my home, as I scrub the tub and cook the supper and wash the clothes, may “all my work be praise.” I lift Christ up in the mundane tasks of homemaking as I teach younger women to love their husbands and children and keep their homes. My Christian home and my children are a strong testimony to the world and fellow Christians of my relationship with Christ. Like my colleagues who serve at FWBBC, I want every aspect of my life—at home, in the community, at church, and here at Free Will Baptist Bible College—to be a testimony to my commitment to Christ’s great commission.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Mrs. Carol Reid, librarian at Free Will Baptist Bible College, has been part of the FWBBC faculty since 1988. She is a member of Cross Timbers FWB Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Learn more about the college at www.fwbbc.edu.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
I work as Nursery Sunday School teacher at Cross Timbers FWB Church and serve as president of the Women Active for Christ group. Recently, I’ve been leading the children’s Bible study time during a home Bible study my husband leads. I work with a young woman from our church as her mentor, studying books together about Christian families. I’ve enjoyed writing Bible studies for Together With God magazine.
Barbara Riddle—Teacher Education
God is always changing my discipleship opportunities! I deliver Meals on Wheels in the rural areas near where we live. I've been doing this so long these ladies and a few gentlemen have become close friends. God has provided many opportunities to include them in our family, help with canning and blackberry picking and gardening. Now that my husband has retired, he will deliver during the fall semester when I'm involved with classes. An assisted living facility provides opportunities as transporter for many who accompany me to church each Sunday.
I serve as minister to senior adults (includes hospital visits, homebound ministry, and assisting with a monthly Bible study) and church pianist. I also assist with a music school, which is a ministry of Inglewood Baptist Church. I occasionally present a program of piano music at nursing homes and retirement centers.
Jena Simpson—Lifetime Learning and Teacher Education Associate
I currently lead a weekly Women's Bible study in my home, teach a children's Wednesday class, and participate in monthly offertories. I’m also the church librarian and write a bi-monthly article concerning the library. I’m involved in a prayer partner ministry with Hope Center, the women's extension of Nashville Rescue Mission. We "adopt" a woman at the center and regularly write her, send her small gifts, and pray for her and encourage her through the program.
I lead the women’s Bible study for the WAC at my church. I’m also the organist/pianist for the church (the instrument I play rotates each month). Occasionally, I teach the Junior Sunday School Class as a substitute and lead the church’s women’s retreat. I even led a personal safety seminar.
Robin Smith—Cashier and Data Processor
As a pastor’s wife I wear many hats. I’m the Sunday School superintendent and church clerk. I teach the Primary Sunday School Class, lead singing, lead our women’s group, and teach youth Sunday and Wednesday nights. I sit with families at the hospital or home as a loved one is passing; generally, if any are children there, I keep them occupied. I also assist brides and my pastor husband at weddings. I sing at funerals if requested by families.
I help my elderly neighbors on a regular basis. She is in a wheelchair, and he is learning to do household chores. I take them food and patch/hem clothes. Once a year I distribute gifts to prisoners at River Bend Maximum Security Prison. I send cards of encouragement to older church members. I listen to FWBBC students that need to talk to an adult. We invite students to our home for holidays or for a meal, pick them up for church, and pray for them on a regular basis. I hope my life is a testimony to my family and to those I see daily.
Tina Tolbert—Adult Degree Program
I teach the College Sunday School Class at my church…actually, they say I’m the director of collegiate ministries. The difference is that in addition to teaching, I plan three or four gatherings for the group each year. I host smaller group dinners/game nights, and I do love them (the students that is)! From time to time, I teach a women’s Bible study for a quarter. I am on the rotating nursery schedule, serve as a church greeter, and sing in the choir. I occasionally direct drama pieces.