Over the next weeks and months, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship will be sharing reflections from our CBF field personnel serving around the world. These are stories of impact and outreach, Gospel-sharing and relationship building, long-term presence and abundant love.
The following is a reflection from a friend of CBF field personnel Pat, who serves among Persian speakers worldwide. You can learn more about her ministries and support her work at www.cbf.net/persianministry.
By Dot Chambers
My name is Dot, I attend First Baptist Church in Herndon, Va. I grew up on a farm a few miles from town. It was a small country town where we all knew each other. Church, Sunday school and summer Bible school were a mainstay.
When I was a teen I thought of becoming a missionary but my life did not go in that direction. I did not follow the traditional role for women at that time although I was married for 53 years. We were both from a farming background, enjoyed all the same activities and supported each other in our career progression. I worked for the Federal Government and got my Bachelor and Law degrees at night. I had the opportunity to work for five different agencies, to travel throughout the states and Europe and to work with a variety of people during my career. I started at an entry level and retired as a Division Chief.
Over the years my husband experienced difficult health issues. As we dealt with them we found ways to accommodate for changes that limited his mobility so that we could continue with the activities we enjoyed. Our last ten years together I became a caregiver and we transitioned to that time together until he passed away in 2017.
All my life I have had many interests related to the fiber arts, music and languages. When I retired, a violin teacher appeared at my church and I fulfilled a lifelong dream of learning to play the violin. Then last year a piano teacher also appeared at my church so I began piano lessons. And I have also been able to participate in knitting and quilting groups. All these activities sustained me during my husband’s illness and death.
Our lives have many changes that require transitions. We have to reinvent ourselves and continue to learn.
The current transition for me was my discovery of the Persian Congregation that started sharing space in our church building. My relationship with them began when I was asked to play hymns that were translated into Farsi on my violin. The Persian congregation was so friendly and welcoming and started to teach me Farsi right away. After a few months I felt led to step out in faith and increase my participation. I started helping with the children’s Sunday school and the ladies’ English Bible study.
When COVID-19 suddenly arrived in March all our activities together stopped. But my Persian Church mentor (CBF field personnel Pat) arranged for us to continue the children’s Sunday school lessons and the ladies’ Bible study on Zoom, which enabled us to continue our lessons seamlessly.
Two of our Sunday school children—a sister and brother, Ami and Ali, (not their real names) live near me and when Easter arrived I wanted them to have a surprise so my sister and I delivered little baskets and stuffed animals to their porch. As lockdown continued I found activities for them to do inside and made several porch surprise deliveries. Ali graduated from preschool in June and had to have a drive by graduation. So I decided to have a graduation picnic for him.
I have a large side yard and my sister and I stayed on the porch to socially distance. They were able to picnic in the yard and play yard games. We had a bubble machine that filled the yard with bubbles. It was fun for all and we want to do it again soon. Being able to share with these children has brought me joy, happiness and fun in a time that is so difficult for everyone.
All these activities have brought me the joy of learning and sharing cross culturally the gifts we have been given to share the word of God. I always thought to share cross culturally would require you to cross oceans to different continents but I found that I did not even have to cross the street.