31 May 2023

Bible study group seeks to help women refill from spiritual well

The Women at the well members connect with each other. Picture: Supplied by Vera Ou-Young.

Jenan Taylor

15 August 2022

A women’s Bible study group has helped its members to navigate some of their most pressing concerns.

The Women at the well group arose out of a growth group at Deep Creek Anglican church in January 2021 aimed at helping busy, working women to refill their spiritual and emotional needs.

Members include an anaesthetist, stay-at-home mothers, and a financial auditor.

Leader, Vera Ou-Young said during the COVID pandemic, she had begun thinking through her work and how disconnected she had felt from people, despite having fulfilled some professional ambitions.

Ms Ou-Young said she gradually realised there were other women at Deep Creek Anglican who found it hard to connect with others but who were seeking an opportunity to share more deeply of their lives.

She said that she thought starting up a Bible study group specifically for them would help them air their challenges and respond to each other.

For many of them, loneliness was a key issue, Ms Ou-Young said.  

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“I felt lonely in a leadership role but also in trying to constantly find how to balance the whole spectrum of life. And some of the women, because of their professional lives, find it hard to talk to other people, so I really wanted to start a group where we could do life together,” she said.

Some of the other issues the women in her group faced also involved parenting, as well as health issues.

One of the group members had had stage three cancer, and had found the group to be a safe space to share her journey while she underwent treatment.

“The other members dropped in food, took her children to Sunday school with our own children, talked to her about anything that could help and just provided as much practical support as we could,” Ms Ou-Young said.

She said the participant who had not been a regular churchgoer beforehand, has now recovered, and has a closer connection to God.

For Ms Ou-Young, the group was a reminder from God of the importance of not just focusing on leadership ambitions.

“I think the Lord just challenges each of us to be generous with our time, and our capacity to love and be generous,” she said.   

The format of the Women at the Well involved the women listening to the church’s weekly sermon podcast, talking about how it applied to their lives, discussing personal matters if they wanted to, then sharing a prayer and a reading, sometimes, via social media.

Their gatherings take place fortnightly online, and there are also in person gatherings, which often in the form of prayer walks.

Deep Creek Anglican’s Growth Groups coordinator, Esther Mathew said because of the members’ working lives, online gatherings were perfect.

“However, when they did meet in person, especially during the COVID restrictions, they would pair off and pray for each other to keep each other accountable to the group’s aims,” Ms Mathew said.

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