You would think getting kicked out of school during my sophomore year of high school for five weeks would have gotten my attention. But it didn’t. I was headed in the wrong direction, trying to impress the fast crowd I was running with at the time. I was partying my dreams away all the while sinking deeper and deeper into trouble.
Then there was a sudden move … a chance to start over! My family transferred from a small East Texas town to Missouri City, just outside of Houston. You would think I would have taken this opportunity to turn over a new leaf, to reinvent myself and get on the right track. But if you thought that, sadly, you would be wrong.
I quickly found another party group and signed up a high school dropout who raced cars illegally to be my boyfriend. I was now teaching younger girls how to party, lie, steal and cheat.
The Turning Point
Then, there was an invitation. I was invited to a local church by some neighborhood friends and it was there I first clearly understood the Good News of Jesus Christ. God loved me and had a plan for my life, but because I was a sinner and separated from God, I could not know this plan or love. I slipped to my knees and confessed that I was a sinner in need of salvation. I trusted Christ to be my Lord and Savior. I asked God to forgive me of my sins and make the person He had meant for me to be.
I recall our youth group venturing out to the Galleria in Houston, going to the food court to talk to other kids our age about salvation in Jesus Christ. I was a new follower of Christ myself and yet, I was able to share what God had done in my life. A young woman placed her faith in Christ with me that night and the question crossed my mind, “Now what? What happens to her now?” I had a loving youth group and a dedicated youth minister to help me learn the ropes of reading my Bible and learning about my new faith in God. But what about her, all the way across town? Who would help her?
Ever since that evening, seeing women place their faith in Jesus Christ and helping them grow and mature in Him have driven my life and ministry.
After graduating from college, I went directly on staff with Cru and served with them for 22 years as a full-time career missionary. I was able to travel the world, sharing the love of God in many countries. I founded a women’s discipleship home called The Faith House and even trained other women to be missionaries here in the United States and abroad.
Three years ago, I launched Lori Joiner Ministries. We serve the global body of Christ with discipleship resources such as articles, blogs and free e-materials on the Lori Joiner Ministries website. “The Discipleship Starter Kit” is one such free resource that helps a woman know where to start when discipling another woman. It is packed full of helpful materials including an eight-week daily calendar so you know exactly what to do for the first eight weeks of meeting with someone.
The deep desire to transfer what I had learned about leading women to Christ and discipling them compelled me to write “Discipling Women.” Filled with personal stories, humorous examples and helpful advice, “Discipling Women” guides readers in how to invest spiritually in women. It also includes nine issues women face that most likely will come up when discipling women.
The most commonly asked question I received after the publication of “Discipling Women” was, “What Bible study should I use when meeting with my disciples?”
This question was answered with “Start Here Six Foundational Lessons for Growth in Christ.” These six straight-forward Bible lessons are the perfect place to start when meeting with a woman one on one, in small groups or even on your own to ensure your foundation in Christ is solid. It covers topics such as God’s love, who is the Holy Spirit and how to pray. What a joy it was to see the Bible study translated into Spanish, called “Empieza Aqui,” and watch it be taken into multiple Spanish-speaking countries on mission journeys!
One of the highlights of this ministry is the amazing women I am able to meet as I travel and speak to groups of all sizes for women’s retreats, events and conferences. I speak on a variety of different topics with “The Time is Now Retreat” being one of my most popular. It is a four-session weekend where I help women’s ministries, in a retreat setting, increase the effectiveness of their discipleship ministry.
Continuing to Grow
The future is bright for Lori Joiner Ministries as we are in the middle of several projects that will further help people grow in Christ. Another version of “Start Here” is in development to be used with couples and youth groups. Another six-week Bible study, “Next Steps,” will roll out in the spring of 2020. It will include lessons on your identity in Christ, the importance of plugging into a faith community, and how to write your personal testimony. Dreaming of all the future possibilities and expansion of this ministry it is thrilling to say the least!
When I look back on my life as a wayward teenager, I am floored at all God has done in and through my life after I surrendered my heart to Him. I like how Psalm 40:2 says, “He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.” You would think I would be grateful every day that I was invited to a church where I heard of God’s love for me and surrendered my future to Him. If you think that, you would be right!