We are excited to highlight for you a new series of Bible studies for women: the Sophron Studies (pronounced So-frone). We know they will inspire you to go deep with God and his word. The first volume is Galatians: Redeeming Grace and the Cross of Christ. We asked the authors, Melissa McPhail and Lisa Menchinger, to tell us about themselves, along with what they hope to accomplish with their study.If parts of this interview sound strangely quaint, it was in fact conducted pre-covid.
How did you come to know and love Jesus Christ? Who or what was instrumental in your own discovery of God’s redeeming grace at the cross?
Melissa: While going to church at our Marine Corps base chapel as a newlywed, a marine’s wife confronted me about my testimony. It made me stop and think and worry that maybe I was not saved. Shortly after, I heard the gospel and was converted.
Lisa: I came to know and love Jesus Christ as Lord through a difficult marriage and divorce. During the divorce, the Lord called me to himself. The Lord used preaching on the radio to woo and pursue me and give me a hunger for more, along with observing my parents’ changed lives, who had recently come to faith.
What does a typical day in your life look like? What does an ideal day look like for you?
We asked Keri to share some of her remarkable story with you—how she went from writing legislation in Washington D.C. to helping her husband, John, plant churches in Dubai. And that’s just the beginning!
John and I met at Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC), while he was the legislative counsel for a Senator and I, was counsel for the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution (I eventually became chief counsel of the Subcommittee).
We married on October 25, 1997. In fact, we were the first couple to meet and marry under Mark Dever’s leadership at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Now, there are so many couples who get married there that we like to tell them we got the ball rolling.
The following year we moved to North Carolina, where John worked for a law firm while I stayed at home. Our first daughter, Ruth, was born in August of 1998. We then moved to Louisville, where John attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and our daughter, Chloe, was born in 2000. Andrew was born in 2002, and then we moved back to D.C. in 2003 so that John could serve as an assistant pastor at CHBC.
Throughout our time in these various places, I have loved studying the Bible. It was a joy to start the women’s Bible studies at both Clifton Baptist Church (with Diane Schreiner) and CHBC (with Adrienne Lawrence, Eli Schmucker, and Deb Siler) so that we could think long and hard over the precious Word of God with other women.
Move to Dubai
While John was still in seminary, we received some prayer cards for unreached peoples. Every night at dinner we would pray with our kids for one of the peoples listed. These prayers—along with the encouragement and example of friends who were going to minister overseas—sparked our interest in the gospel going out to the nations.
While we were at CHBC, we went on a short-term trip to Central Asia. We became particularly excited about Muslims hearing the gospel, so we wanted to be a part of that work. However, it was also clear to us that John was called to preach—not plant churches in a different language. The year after we got back from that trip, I prayed every Tuesday (which was the day I regularly prayed for the nations) that God would send us. But my prayer basically went, “God, I know John is called to preach in English, so we won’t be going. But please send us overseas to share the gospel.”
We had no idea that English-speaking churches existed in the Muslim world. But later Mark Dever came home from a trip to Dubai and asked John if he would be interested in serving at the United Christian Church of Dubai (UCCD). This idea thrilled our hearts and we have never looked back. God has done much more than we ever dreamed (you can read more about our ministry in Dubai through this interview with The Gospel Coalition).
Bearing Fruit Throughout the Nations
When we arrived in Dubai, approximately 500 people attended UCCD. Since then by God’s grace, we have planted 3 other churches in the United Arab Emirates with over 700 people attending our church (including 450 members) from around 60 different countries.
But the spiritual growth is more exciting than the numerical growth. We have become self-consciously Reformed and gospel-centered with a passion for expositional preaching. Recently we baptized 14 people. They were from India, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Nigeria, Scotland, England, the U.S., Lebanon, and Ghana. That gives you a taste of the steady stream of conversions from a diversity of nations at UCCD.
Currently, our women’s Bible study has around 100 women participating. We meet in small groups and go through passages inductively, and then we join together in a room where we listen to expositional teaching. We have 12 small group leaders and 6 women who teach expositionally. Our leaders are from the U.S., Australia, Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and India—and they are the sharpest women I know. God has been kind to us in our ministry in Dubai, and we would love for you to share in our rich experience of seeking God through His Word.
Tomorrow we begin a weekly giveaway of two books and a $20 store coupon, so be sure to check back! Tomorrow’s free books are Keri’s two newest studies, on Ephesians and James.
Keri Folmar has just released her third 10-week inductive Bible study for women with Cruciform—this time on Ephesians. We wanted to share 10 reasons why you should consider studying this weighty book of the Bible with Keri’s help:
1) It’s an Inductive Study
There are few truly inductive Bible studies for women written by a woman. This resource will center your focus on the words from Paul’s letter and help you articulate his intent in writing to the church at Ephesus.
2) It’s Spiral Bound
We make these Bible studies spiral-bound so that you can easily write in them.
3) It’s Designed to Encourage Interaction
The pages of these studies have lots of room for you to write your reflections as you pray over God’s Word.
4) It’s for Individual or Group Use
You can go through these studies on your own or with your family and friends.
5) It’s Available in Bulk Discounts
If you want to purchase numerous copies, we offer three levels of automatic discount: 8+ books=10% off, 25+ books=15% off, 50+ books=20% off.
6) Men Could Get Involved, Too
Men, you could pick up this study for your wife. If you are willing to forbear the flowers on the covers (they’re very theological tulips, after all), you might also want to lead her through it.
7) It’s a Tested and Cherished Tool
Keri first led women—in both the U.S. and Dubai—through these studies. They were birthed in the context of discipleship.
8) It’s Part of a Series
Before Keri published this study on Ephesians, she also labored to help women study Philippians and James. By God’s grace, this series has been warmly and widely welcomed.[tweet “Turns out that @CruciformPress has three 10-week inductive Bible Studies for women from Keri Folmar!”]
9) It’s Commended by Other Women
Keri’s studies have been endorsed by Connie Dever, Kathleen Nielson, Kristie Anyabwile, Gloria Furman, and others. For example, Diane Schreiner says, “Keri Folmar has done it again! Now she has made Ephesians a book to delve into, unfolding its message with accuracy and clarity. The questions are inductive and applicable, helping us to understand Paul’s intent and what Ephesians means for our church involvement and our personal lives.”
10) It’s Commended by Other Churches
Churches across half a dozen denominations have purchased Keri’s studies in bulk—and the response has been great.For example, Molly Blass is on the Women’s Ministry Council at First Presbyterian (PCA) in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and has led a group of 75 women through Keri’s studies. She writes, “We don’t want to be women who are ‘always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth’ (2 Tim. 3:7). Keri’s material helps carefully guide us into truth, but it also includes pointed application questions that the Spirit can use to help us examine our own hearts.”[tweet “There are lots of good reasons to check out these 10-week inductive Bible Studies for women.”]