Just as people traveled from all over 2,000 years ago to hear Jesus speak, there are those who journey today from all over the Delta to hear and learn about God’s Word right here in Indianola.
The Explorer’s Bible Study, which is now into its fifth decade of existence, continues to be a draw for women who are seeking to know more about God.
Headquartered just outside of Nashville, the Explorer’s Bible Study was started in the early 1970s by Tom and Nellie Constance. They saw the need and desire for an in-depth Bible Study curriculum for smaller towns and communities like Indianola, which began its own search for a study in the late 1970s.
A group of ladies within the community, including Scottie Robertson and Dot Baird, were looking to start a Bible study, Jana Donahoe, one of the current Explorer’s instructors said.
“They went to Memphis to Bible Study Fellowship, and they didn’t qualify for leading a Bible study here, because they had to have 300 people,” Donahoe said. “They were introduced to Mrs. Constance, who developed Explorer’s Bible Study and got her curriculum. It’s been here ever since.”
The interdenominational study has attracted people from all walks of life and from places outside of Sunflower County, like Shaw and Louise.
Suzanne Jefcoat has had many wonderful memories with her fellow Christians and learning more about the Bible.
“I brought my 3-year-old, who is now in his 40s,” Jefcoat said. “We had a children’s program back then, and they learned while we learned.”
Georgia Humbarger first joined the study in 1981, and she has been a faithful participant ever since.
“I need this,” Humbarger said. “I wouldn’t have kept in it if it hadn’t been a good thing. I get a lot from it…It really enriches your spirituality and your walk with God.”
There has been a faithful core group of Christian ladies who have kept the study going over the decades, like Sybil Arant, who led the group for years up until about four years ago.
“In this small town, we’re really blessed with great women that wanted to do this and commit to it,” Humbarger said.
Donahoe joined Explorer’s herself back in 1992, and she has been impressed with the bonds the ladies have formed and with the consistently enriching study of the Bible.
“We love it,” Donahoe said. “Each curriculum is different.”
Explorer’s is not the average Bible study. It requires dedication from its instructors and the students.
This year, classes are meeting on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. and on Thursdays at 9:15 a.m. in Newman Hall at First United Methodist Church.
The group has traditionally met in the chapel at FUMC, but the pandemic has relocated the group, so that proper social distancing can be practiced.
Studies are being filmed this year and uploaded to a private Facebook group, and study groups can meet via Zoom on Monday nights.
Aside from facemasks and social distancing, the study goes on like it always has.
Each session begins with a devotion.
Then the group takes a deep dive into scripture.
There are questions each Bible student takes home with them and answers in private. Then they come back as a group and discuss the answers.
“You hear it, you do it, and then you hear it again,” Donahoe said. “Then you go out and apply it. It really helps the Word of God stick. You don’t want just the head knowledge. You want the heart knowledge and the head too. They’ve all got to be interconnected to be a real authentic Christian. That’s what Explorer’s specializes in. That’s how we learn.”
There are some studies that last for a short term, but there are those like the current one that last for weeks.
“This year, they’re doing 30 weeks,” Donahoe said. “It’s the kind you can come and join at any point.”
The main theme of this year’s study is knowing God, something Donahoe said is important in every Christian’s life, but it is especially pertinent in 2020.
“People really need to know the Lord right now,” she said. “They are lonely, and they are hurting during the pandemic.”
The cost for this year’s study is $30 per student, and there’s still time to join.