Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

Story and photos by Skyler Cumbia.

Romania sunrise
Yogurt played a substantial role in my life in Romania. I ate it for breakfast quite often, usually while I read from the Bible each morning …ok, MOST mornings. I’m not that perfect!

calloutFor me, yogurt is similar to the word of God. You’re saying, “Did she really just compare the Bible to yogurt?” Yes, I did. It’s rich and sweet and it fills you up. I don’t know about you, but I love yogurt. I like rolling it around on my tongue and slowly munching on bits of fruit. And when I get close to the end, I scrape as much as possible off the sides, around the rim and at the bottom. Shouldn’t it be the same when we read the Bible? We should try to scrape out of a passage every scrap of knowledge we possibly can!

One of my favorite kinds of yogurt is the Greek yogurt that often has the “fruit on the bottom” so you have to dig around to find it and mix it all in. Similarly, you will never get any flavor out of a Bible passage until you’ve dug a little and stirred it around in your mind.

Now, I’m fairly positive that Satan designed the Yoplait yogurt containers. There is this horrible lip at the top that keeps you from getting that last bit of deliciousness. Satan loves to do the same when we read the Bible. He puts this barrier in your mind preventing you from grasping that last, and often times most important, bit of information.

libraryOn several occasions God would show Himself to me through the children I worked with or the women I taught English to. For a while I was struggling with the feeling that I wasn’t making much of a difference. One afternoon a boy in the afterschool program said to me, “I want to be like you!” At first I thought, “How sweet,” but then it hit me: This was God telling me that I was making a difference. Whether or not this boy was referring to my semi-awesome super hero sketching skills, I’ll never know, but God made His point clear.

childrenSome days I taught English at a women’s center. I didn’t have a large group every day; sometimes I would just work one-on-one. This is actually how I prefer to teach, but also these times reminded me of church. We come together as believers to learn from the Bible and from each other, but so often underestimate the importance of one-on-one time with God. We still learn a lot from being in groups, but there are some things that are harder to teach (and learn) in large groups.

My months in Romania filled me up (in more ways than yogurt). They quenched my soul in areas that had been parched for some time. Many people have asked me if I liked Ghana or Romania more. But I can’t compare them, they are so different. I learned many life and spiritual lessons in both places so I guess, in the end, that’s all that matters.

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By Darvin E. Satterwhite. Photos by Janet Chase.

In July, 2008, I attended FBC for the first time, not really knowing what to expect. My family and I had been members of a small rural church for many years and I had my apprehensions about attending a much larger church in the “Big City.”

For several Sundays, we came solely to the worship service and found that FBC welcomed newcomers with open arms. But this was more than a “feel-good” experience. Something greater was at work here.

On the way to worship service, my wife and I would discuss some of the everyday issues and frustrations that sometimes confront us as Christians, only to be presented with a message from Jim Somerville tailored to the very same concerns that we had been discussing. It happened so frequently that we knew God’s hand was truly at work in FBC’s ministry to us.

Darvin Satterwhite

Members of the Footprints Class during Sunday morning Bible study.

Encouraged by this reception, we considered doing something that we had not done in years – we started to look for a Sunday school class to attend. FBC’s website listed numerous options in ages and study formats, and we decided to try the Mustard Seed Class. One visit was all that it took for us to feel right at home.

I wondered if my family’s reception by FBC was typical. Nate Varnier, a friend, started attending FBC several months ago. I asked him what his experience had been like, and he offered the following insights:

Visiting First Baptist Church my (now) wife, Julie, and I were overtaken by a welcoming spirit from both the staff and members. People turned in their seats to greet us, people stopped as they walked down the aisle to say hello, and the ministers caught us as we left the service to just say how much they enjoyed having us. For such a large congregation I was surprised to see the one-on-one attention given to the visitors of the church. I’ve consistently told others that First Baptist is a big church with a small church atmosphere.

Nate’s experience sounds very similar to my own.

There are many reasons the strong sense of Christian fellowship seems to exude from the members of FBC. The worship service, the music, the various ministries – all enhance our spiritual experience as Christians and contribute to cementing the bonds that make us the body of Christ. But I have found that one of the significant blessings in attending FBC comes from the variety of small group studies that are available, particularly those offered in our Sunday school classes. I think Lewis Myers expresses the strength of these studies best when he tells us:

Bible study is the core of who we are as Baptists and really defines us. I am passionate about believers immersing themselves in the Word of God, and small groups are effective in this. Fellowship is a by-product of mutual commitment to a common task. Functioning, productive small groups are absolutely essential in a large church such as ours. They launch us into ministries more extensive than in the small group, but remain the home base where we are restored.

A place “where we are restored” – that may best capture the essence of FBC’s small group studies. It is in Sunday school classes where each person can express among Christian brothers and sisters his or her hopes and doubts, praises and frustrations. And, in so doing, we realize that the Holy Spirit is truly at work to bring Christian restoration in a world that is too often spiritually draining.

Darvin Satterwhite

Darvin Satterwhite teaches in the Footprints Sunday morning Bible study class.

For two and a half years, I eagerly anticipated Sunday mornings in Bible study and worship. Then, I was asked to do something that, a few years back, I would have never considered. An opening for a teaching position became available in the Footprints Class, and I was offered a temporary teaching assignment. After much prayer and encouragement from church members, I decided to give it a try.

Six months later, I am still teaching in Footprints – teaching but also learning quite a bit from class members. I have found Christian fellowship and blessings as everyone in the class has made me feel like a long-time member: I was a stranger and they took me in (paraphrase, Matthew 25:35c).

Darvin SatterwhiteDarvin, his wife, Flo, and daughter, Emily, began attending First Baptist in July 2008 and joined in late 2010. He and Flo have been married nearly 26 years and have three children: John (who works in Richmond), Darcy (an upcoming senior at Virginia Tech), and Emily (an upcoming freshman at Christopher Newport). Darvin teaches the Footprints class and has a predominantly civil law practice in Goochland County where they reside.

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By Becky Kyle.

Vacation Bible School has changed since I attended in my childhood.

I remember going to VBS every summer and learning about God and the people in the Bible. I remember the daily processional with the salute to the American flag, the Christian flag and the Bible. I remember being in one classroom all morning with one set of teachers, having in-depth Bible study enhanced by activities, crafts and week-long projects. Music, snack, and recreation were breaks from the classroom.

VBS still happens every summer, but much has changed since my memories were formed.

Vacation Bible School morning assembly in the Sanctuary of First Baptist. Photo by Susan Brown.

The most exciting change is the addition of missions as a component of VBS. FBC offers children participation in mission projects that reach people in our own community, throughout the U.S., and around the world. The children have packed gift bags for the leaders of the Boys & Girls Club of Richmond, for FBC’s Community Missions clients and Grace Fellowship participants, for families at the Ronald McDonald House, for local fire fighters, and for FBC’s neighbors and homebound members. VBS children have sent their pennies to relief work for children in Israel and the Caribbean. Last year they prepared blankets and coloring books to fill backpacks for children in Africa.

FBC and Mount Moriah Baptist Church partner to help transport children to Vacation Bible School. Photo by Anthony M. Nesossis.

VBS has become an outreach ministry in Richmond. We partner with Mount Moriah Baptist Church to offer VBS to children in their congregation. We provide transportation; they provide volunteers. We also provide transportation for children from several community centers and from the New American community. As a result, a growing percentage of participants are from families who are not members of FBC.

First Baptist’s Children’s Ministry leaders carefully study and review about ten VBS curricula each year. Through prayer and discussion, they select the one best fitted to our children. Most of these curricula have a secular, fun-oriented theme with children rotating to different classrooms for each activity (i.e. Bible study, music, crafts, games, recreation, snack, missions).

“Finding Hope: A Field Trip of Faith” is this year’s curriculum. The theme is based on Together For Hope, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s 20 year commitment to the 20 poorest counties in the United States. Each day VBS begins with worship followed by a Bible study that is the foundation for the day’s activities. Children then take a “field trip” to one of the 20 areas to learn through activities how God’s love is shared with the people who live there. One trip is to Helena, Arkansas, where former FBC members Ben and Leonora Newell serve. FBC partners with them through family mission trips each summer.

Children participate in arts and crafts during VBS 2010. Photo by Susan Brown.

VBS is one of FBC’s best opportunities to share God’s love with children and to help them discover God’s hope in the Bible. It teaches them of God’s love for all people and how to reach out in that love to others. That’s a VBS basic that is exactly as I remember it.



Editor’s note: Some volunteers are still needed- childcare givers with babies and toddlers, a preschool and an elementary teacher, and van drivers. Contact: Candi Brown, Brown@FBCRichmond.org, 358-5458 x150.


Becky KyleBecky Kyle has been attending FBC since she was a college student and joined FBC in 1984. Since then, she has served in many FBC ministries, taught children in Sunday school for the last 13 years, and volunteered with VBS most of the last 14 years. She works part-time for Fleet Auto Tag & Title Service. James and Becky have two children, Sarah and Aaron, who are active in the youth ministry.

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By Lindsey McClintock. Photo by Anthony M. Nesossis.

It can be difficult to worship and work in the same place. That’s the challenge many ministers face.

Megan Lowe

Megan Lowe found herself in the midst of this conundrum when she accepted a staff position at FBC as Children’s Ministry Assistant, working specifically as the Children’s Worship and Child Care coordinator.

Megan was dedicated as a baby (as Megan Sterrett) at FBC. From birth to college FBC was like a second home to Megan, a place of comfort, relief from life’s stresses, and a sacred place. Lynn Turner was her youth minister and the most influential minister impacting her life and development as a Christian. Lynn, she said, was always welcoming and friendly but also one to “call you out when you were out of line,” making her a role model in expressing the love of God and the expectations of discipleship. Megan felt that FBC was her church home and was always glad to come, be it for corporate worship or youth ministry.

While attending VCU, Megan became very involved with the Intervarsity ministries and found a wonderful peer group of fellow Christian university students. On Sundays this group would attend church together, exploring different churches around Richmond. It was in this group that Megan met Brandon Lowe, later to become her husband. FBC was still her home church but her engagement with the congregation was different than she had experienced as a child or youth.

Accepting a position on staff further changed that relationship. In the first year of her employment Megan saw FBC as both her place of worship and work which seemed fine, although she rarely got the chance to worship with Brandon. “I kept thinking we could worship together as a couple during the summers when I did not have children’s worship obligations but those opportunities were few and far between.” After a year of trying, Megan and Brandon decided they needed to find a different place of worship.

Being employed by FBC and having such close ties from growing up in the church brought a lot of anxiety, guilt and fear of judgment in transferring her membership to another congregation. The timing was also very unfortunate as she and Brandon found another church and withdrew her membership at the height of the membership/baptism conversation which, she emphasized, had nothing to do with their decision. Megan was pleasantly surprised in receiving great amounts of support and understanding from FBC members in reaction to her decision, which made her even more proud of FBC.

“It was a huge relief and joy to be able to worship as a couple again in total freedom. Working at the church I spent a lot of time preparing Bible studies and leading children’s worship, however, I had not realized how this had become an intellectual exercise of preparation and not one of the heart feeding me spiritually,” she recounted. It was not until she found herself worshiping next to Brandon at City Church of Richmond (whose worship services are Sunday afternoons) that she realized how much this had been missing in her life. While Megan loves her work at First Baptist Church and values the faith community which raised her, transferring her membership to a new congregation proved an important step for her continued faith development.

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