By Lindsey Hayakawa
Sept. 5, 2019
For the past 2 years, the residents of Sojourner House have been given the opportunity to attend a Bible Study every other Monday evening. Millicent Novic is the organizer behind the volunteer-run group that provides bi-weekly Bible Study, child care and dinner for the families. The idea initially came to Millicent as a way to share her studies of the Bible. Ann Brooks, another Sojourner House volunteer, introduced Millicent to Sojourner House.
After discussing some ideas with Liz Wasel, Sojourner House Volunteer Coordinator/Child Care Specialist, Millicent asked a group of women from various churches to volunteer their time. This group of female volunteers all wanted to help and became known as the Murrysville Bible Study Group (MBSG). Members of this group include: Maria Alvarez, Judy Amrose, Karen Ellson, Jeannie Hernandez, Sandra Hickey, Susan Kizielewicz, Merry Krueger, Pat McRickard, Val Newell, Denise Reppermund, Debbie Rockovich, Bonnie Weiss, Abbi Novic and Kim Woods. Millicent remembers, “At the time, two women in the group had relatives who were struggling with addiction already, so they felt that this was something that they could stand behind.”
Since Sojourner House is a 6-month program, MBSG is with the residents for a limited time. MBSG structured the Bible Study to help the mothers create habits that they can integrate into their everyday life so that it will help sustain them after they leave. In addition, MBSG provides residents with tools and resources that will help them on their spiritual walk. Members of MBSG donate their own money to provide residents with a Daily Devotional book, Promises of the Bible book, children’s illustrated Bible, and other support CDs and DVDs. Abbi Novic, Millicent’s daughter, provides child care during Bible Study. Abbi sings songs, reads books and plays games with the children. Millicent realized that all of the women are at different levels of spirituality and understanding. Some learn a lot from the Bible Study, some get reacquainted with Christianity. Millicent remembers that, “One resident asked, ‘I know who Jesus is, but who is Christ?’”
Millicent also organizes other special holiday activities and gifts for the residents: “We reach out to our friends in the month of November to let them know about the program at Sojourner House and how our Bible Study is supporting you to see if they too would like to be a part of our efforts.” In the past year, Millicent organized a Christmas fund drive for Sojourner House, where people donate money to purchase comforters, sheet sets, shower curtains, rugs, and other basic needs items during the Black Friday sales.
MBSG loves the residents with a clean slate, as the women are trying to work on their recovery and through complicated issues in their lives. The residents have expressed their gratitude to Millicent and the rest of MBSG for everything that they have donated.
Millicent knows that MBSG cannot help everyone suffering in the opioid epidemic. She says that, “she wants to help this small group, or this one person for this one moment.” Ultimately, MBSG wants to plant the seeds to be harvested later by God. There are moments when the Murrysville Bible Study Group sees that the seeds they have planted are starting to grow. At the end of each Bible Study, MBSG asks for prayer requests from the residents. There was a time when the residents offered to pray for MBSG and asked for prayer requests. It was a moment where Millicent realized that “the residents saw us as humans too, that we have lives, and that we made a choice to volunteer there.”