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Bible study turns into ministry support group for young mothers
Members of Airline Baptist ministry group square1 are, from left, Kelsey Bishop, Brandy Tucker, Lauren Byers, Synthia Dodd, Taylor Bishop and Shay Farr. - photo by BRANDEE A. THOMAS

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A group of Hall County women are learning that you don’t have to walk a mile in someone’s shoes to be compassionate about their struggles.

Sometimes, all it takes is having a little faith — a “Radical” faith — and a willing spirit.

“Our church, Airline Baptist Church, had revival in October. Shortly after that, we started our small-group Bible study,” remembers Lauren Byers of Lula.

“We were reading this book, ‘Radical’ by David Platt. It challenges you to go out and be purposeful in your faith — to give of your time and resources to something to help others.

“Our group started talking and wondering what our purpose was.”

After a group discussion, the ladies realized they didn’t have to travel to a foreign country to be effective missionaries. They soon realized their mission field was bordered by the streets they travel daily, and their shared passion was helping young mothers.

From their small study group, the six women — Byers, Shay Farr, Brandy Tucker, Kelsey Bishop, Synthia Dodd and Taylor Bishop — formed “square1.” Their mission is a simple one: Help young moms feel supported, loved and most importantly, more prepared.

“I have an 18-month-old. ... I’ve seen how hard it is to take care of a kid and I’m married and have access to resources,” said Farr, a Gainesville resident.

“Some of these young moms are out there working and trying to raise their kid alone or with very little support.”
As a way of introducing themselves to the community, square1 members gathered baby essentials to fill diaper bags, which they handed out a few weeks ago in the parking lot of Walmart in Gainesville. They will repeat this act of generosity at 10 a.m. today.

“We popped open the back of (Farr’s) SUV and displayed our bags,” recalls Kelsey Bishop about their first distribution.

“It was very unofficial. We put the word out a lot on Facebook. At one point, a few of us went inside and approached people on the diaper aisle to explain what we were doing. A lot of people looked at us like we were crazy.”

“Some couldn’t comprehend that we were doing it for free and that we were just trying to help,” said Tucker, of Lula.

“It’s our jobs as Christians to take these people in and let them know that there is someone out there that cares for them,” Farr added.

“Being surrounded by Christian men and women all the time, I take things like that for granted because people tell me all the time that they love me and that God loves me,” Byers added.

“Some of these women never hear that. That’s why it’s important for us to show them God’s love by being his hands and feet.”

For square1 member Synthia Dodd, the mission is especially personal.

“I got pregnant when I was 19 and a freshman in college. When I look at them, I see myself a little bit, too, because I was so young and I didn’t know where to turn. It’s like starting from square one because you have to learn so many new things,” shared Dodd, a Gainesville resident.

“I was in Kennesaw in college and (my family) was here and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to just walk up to someone and say, ‘Hey, I’m 19 and I’m pregnant and I’m away from home and I don’t know what to do.’

“If I can make someone feel better about themselves or just know that it’s OK, God still loves you. For me, that was the biggest thing. I thank the Lord every day that I do have the resources and the family and the help that I have.

“If it wasn’t for that, I could be in the same position — lost and scared. I’ve been there. For me, it’s just trying to do whatever I can to make that connection.”

While distributing the bags, the square1 ladies also collected the recipients’ contact information to follow up with their families. They also included contact information in each of the bags about other resources available in the community.

“Out of the 15 bags we handed out that first time, we had two or three moms contact us within a week,” Byers said.

“Our goal the whole time was reach just one person,” Tucker said.

“If just one person could come to know Christ, or if we could help to make them feel better about themselves, then we accomplished our goal.”

The group of 19- to 25-year-olds has only been together as a ministry for less than two months, but they have big plans — including applying for nonprofit status. More giveaways, more moral support and more outreach are all in the works.

“Just through talking to the girls that we’ve been in contact with, they show me God’s love in a whole new light,” Kelsey Bishop said.

“I’ve experienced God’s love in my way, but seeing the way God is starting to work in their lives, it just completely humbles you. It makes me want to do more and more.”