When Jim signed up for our Bible study, I didn't know any better than to accept him. Jim was often shunned in our singles group. He was small and scrawny, but had a loud, self-conscious laugh. He was quite bright, but had few social skills. There was really nothing wrong with Jim; he was just "different."
In those days many of us who led groups knew nothing about EGR (extra grace required) people. And as beginners, my co-leader and I had few leadership skills. We just knew that we needed to love our group members, so we did. And as we modeled love, the others in the group imitated us.
There was really nothing deliberate about it, so we were amazed to watch Jim blossom right before our eyes. His laugh toned down and his ability to interact with others increased. We learned that he was a fascinating person with a variety of interests, a deep love for Jesus, and a firm grasp of Scripture. He even began bathing and using deodorant.
Then others in the larger singles group began to discover Jim. They listened and learned. They too loved him. Over the next few years, he became quite "normal" and respected. He married, got a promotion, and became a deacon in his church, all because a small group loved him to wholeness.
How did I know what to do? I knew because it had been done for me. When I became a Christian at the age of 28, I brought with me a truckload of emotional baggage. I needed much healing. That same singles group had a group of women who invited me in as if I were OK. I joined their Bible study where I was able to learn from women who were mature in their Christian life. They encouraged me, offered friendship, discipled me, and expressed confidence that I had potential. When it was my turn to take on the study's rotating ...