It was September 1999, and Beth Shadid, then 39, had recently given birth to her fifth baby, Caleb, after losing both her fourth child, Micah, at birth, and her brother, Jim, to lung cancer in 1998.
"The past year had been extremely hard for our family, with two deaths back to back," says Beth, who has three other sons now ages eight and under. "So when fall came, we were celebrating Caleb, our surprise gift of new life."
Throughout those difficult times, Beth had grown close to her neighbor Dina, a mom of three. "Dina attended both our son's funeral and my brother's memorial service," Beth says. "She was so kind and sympathetic. Our friendship really deepened, and I felt comfortable opening up to her a bit about my faith in Christ. She'd seen the strength I'd drawn from it."
Dina, who'd never attended a Bible study before, knew Beth had been involved in various women's Bible studies throughout the five years they'd lived across the street from each other. So Dina asked Beth if she was planning to join a women's Bible study that fall. "I didn't think I could possibly pack up my newborn, plus my three other active little boys, and attend a weekly study," Beth admits. "I recommended a women's Bible study at a local church in case Dina was interested in attending one on her own. Then I said, 'But I'd love it if someone got something started in our neighborhood!'"1