The woman who founded Disciplers Bible Studies was an amazing godly woman and I will never forget the first time I met her. I had flown into the San Antonio airport from Hawaii, sent by my Bible Study Fellowship class to train as substitute teaching leader. I was thousands of miles away from anyone I knew -- alone and scared. How would I find the woman who was supposed to meet me? What if she didn’t show up? As I made my way off the plane and into the area where people were smiling, waving, and waiting eagerly for their loved ones, I wanted to turn around and go home. But then I spotted a face -- the kindest face I had ever seen, with a sweet hint of a smile, and beautiful soft eyes that reflected the love of Jesus. She didn’t say a word, just walked straight toward me and put her arms around me in a warm, welcoming hug. I knew this had to be Pearl Hamilton, the woman who had been sent to pick me up. All I knew about her was that she had worked closely with Miss Johnson, founder of BSF, for many years in Oakland, California. But when BSF was offered a large piece of property for a beautiful new headquarters in San Antonio, Miss Johnson retired and named a Texas woman as the new Director of BSF. Pearl had moved to Texas to become Deputy Director.
Pearl’s credentials were intimidating. She was a U. C. Berkeley graduate and had studied at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts and L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. I had barely a year of BSF to my credit! But I had little time to feel intimidated. Pearl received me graciously and my apprehensions disappeared. Then, as we drove off in her Texas sized car, she had me holding onto my seat as we sped through San Antonio. That week I learned that besides being a fast and skillful driver, Pearl was a knowledgeable and charismatic Bible teacher with a delightful sense of humor. She had high expectations for everyone, but failures were always met with encouragement rather than criticism. She could also make a piano come alive with praise music!
During that week in San Antonio, we had many wonderful instructors, but Pearl is the one who inspired me to want to be my best -- not just in things pertaining to my duties in BSF but in everything I did. To Pearl, teaching and sharing God’s truth was not just something to be done in class, it was something that involved your whole life -- every action and every choice. I returned home wanting to be the best wife I could be, reflecting Jesus and pouring out His love on my husband. I wanted to be the best mom, modeling for my children how to put Jesus first, showing by example what is important in this life. I wanted to be the best servant I could be to the BSF women in Hawaii. Pearl taught us that as leaders in a Bible study, we were to be servants. She defined a servant’s heart as one that desires to make someone else successful. She instilled in me a longing to make our teaching leader successful and to make each one of the ladies in our BSF group successful as followers of Christ and students of God’s word. Pearl inspired me to serve Jesus Christ with joy and thankfulness where He had put me.
Back at home, time passed but I did not forget Pearl. I longed to see her again and learn more from her. Then my family moved to Southern California. We had lived in the area when our children were small and we went back to the same church we had attended as new believers. Then one day I learned that our church had called Pearl Hamilton to be Director of Women’s Ministries. I sat down and wept. I felt that God had answered my unspoken selfish prayer to be near Pearl. When she arrived and started a Bible study class, writing questions and study lessons each week, I was at the first class. I never missed unless it was totally unavoidable. Nobody wanted to miss her classes. We had too much to learn from her. Pearl wrote lessons and taught our Disciplers class for five and a half years. When she was diagnosed with leukemia, I prayed harder and longer than I had ever prayed in my life. Her health, her presence, her wisdom and example were something I needed as much as air to breathe and food to eat. But God’s will was to have her with Him. I couldn’t blame Him. Pearl lived her last days the way she did everything else, according to her favorite saying, “Not somehow, but triumphantly.”
Disciplers has carried on. Pearl’s lessons continue to teach and inspire many. Her life and her legacy are still making a profound impact in individual lives around the world. I hope yours is one of those. My prayer of gratitude for years spent with Pearl ascends every day. I thank God for the privilege of knowing her and serving under her. I am determined to be faithful to all that Pearl desired for this ministry -- to serve as she did, with joy, with Christ’s love, with compassion, commitment, caring, and with prayers even in the middle of the night. That was our Pearl.
I hope I have helped you to know a bit about Pearl. Without her there would be no Disciplers. She started this ministry and wrote the lessons for you -- you who are faithful to study and keep your eyes on the goal. May you be blessed mightily through her faithful commitment to God’s call in sharing herself through the ministry of Disciplers.
With fond remembrance
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.