Finding Friends

Written by Aafke Garlock

6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. 11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district[a] of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. 13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.-– Acts 16:6-15


In January of 2020, yes that 2020, Wesley Chapel began a study of Francis Chan’s book, Forgotten God. We were all encouraged to join a small group and work through the book together. I made a half-hearted resolution to get into a Bible study, but my children were five and two– bedtime was sacred and I worked full-time as a teacher. My availability was almost nil.

I was giving these reasons to my friend Ahnya, true excuses why I just couldn’t uphold my resolution, and she simply texted me “When could you meet?” I responded, half jokingly, “5 pm on a weekday.” Her response, “Let’s do it.” She literally scheduled a small group for the two of us, meeting from 5-6 pm at the church. The next week, our group grew by a few, then a few more. By March, we were at five and flourishing, watching the videos together and having amazing conversations.

Then the shutdown hit. Everything was closed. Zoom became a thing. Would the group like to continue our study via Zoom? Sure, we said– let’s do it. We continued to meet weekly as the world fell apart. These meetings suddenly became a lifeline for us; we poured out our true selves as we came face to face with a vast unknown. Panic attacks, Covid scares, isolation, fear for our families, lack of toilet paper, it all came out in our weekly meetings. When we finished Forgotten God in May, Covid had taken away our summer as well. Would we like to do another study? Heck yes. Let’s keep meeting virtually. Eventually, groups came back to the physical church and started a new version of normalcy, but the bonds made in that group are still solid. We told each other everything, so there’s no small talk now– we deal with real life together. We might not talk for a few weeks, but one text or call is all it takes and my friends are in my corner.

In Acts 16, we see Paul and his companions doing the work of God. They think they are supposed to go to one town, Bithynia, but God’s spirit says no. Paul receives a dream in which someone is begging him to go to Macedonia, so they change plans. Ahnya was doing the work of God by creating a small group to fulfill my need. We thought our small group was supposed to flourish in person, the way it had always been done, but God (and the health department) said no. We changed plans and switched to virtual. When Paul and his companions are receptive to the new plan, God brings Lydia to him and a new group of believers is born through this obedience. We were receptive to the new plan and together, were able to form a new group of friends.

I am so thankful that Ahnya did God’s work that fateful day in January of 2020. I am even more thankful that we as a group didn’t quit when our initial plan was taken away, that we listened and changed course. In doing so, I now have a group of women who I am blessed to count as not just sisters in Christ, but true friends. 

4 Responses to “Finding Friends”

  1. Harvey Hamilton says:

    Aafke, thank you for sharing! Tremendous testimony! Great role models.
    God is good

  2. Bill Schuppert says:

    Aafke I hope your small group stays together as our group did. In a 1972 revival at Wesley on State St. we were encouraged by the Evangelist to form small groups to continue Bible study and prayer, We became like family. there were 5 couples that met weekly on a rotating basis at each others homes. We also vacationed together, We met continuously for 28 years.

  3. Ahnya Evinger says:

    💕I am so grateful for the friendships formed with Christ as a foundation.💕

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