No prayer too large for women’s Bible study group


When a young man from Jackson County recently died of a drug overdose, a group of women at Seymour Christian Church prayed for his family and for a community struggling with how to deal with the opioid crisis.

After the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the same group prayed for the victims’ families and all students and teachers across the nation coming together to address school violence.

They have prayed for friends battling cancer or other illnesses and for a new mother who just recently had her baby.

The group has prayed for its church and other churches, for first responders who take action to help others in times of emergencies and for veterans and active military personnel.

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No prayer request is too much for this group of women to handle. That’s why they are often referred to as “The Big Dogs.”

Originally started as a women’s Bible study group years ago by Seymour Christian Church member Sue Williams, it has evolved over time to serve an even greater purpose than just giving women a better understanding of the Bible.

It empowers them to apply biblical teachings in their own lives and in the world.

The group meets from 9 to 11 a.m. every Tuesday at the church and currently is being led by Sandee Ramsey.

Although Ramsey had participated in Bible studies before, she had never led one. She stepped up because she felt the Lord wanted her to do more. Helping her was Betty Gray, who facilitated the group with Williams.

“These ladies are amazing,” Ramsey said of the group. “It’s just knowing that there is somebody else out there that really wants God to act in your life so they will pray for you.”

Where many Bible study groups are small, The Big Dogs attracts 20 to 30 women every time they meet. They also stay connected with each other through Facebook.

“People post on there when something is necessary or a prayer is needed throughout the week,” Ramsey said.

Many of the women keep notebooks and write down each request so they can continue to focus their prayers throughout the week.

The group leaders and even the location of the meetings have changed over the years, but the one thing that has remained constant is the feeling of love the women have for each other and for the important work they are doing through prayer to make the world better.

Theresa Ellis has been a member of the group since it started.

“If there is anything in my life that I appreciate and love more than anything, it’s this Bible study,” she said. “I think this is just the greatest place to be. There are so many times that I am so full of love and just so glad that I’ve been around these women and the love of God.”

Ellis said for her, the group provides mental, emotional and spiritual support.

“I think it’s like therapy because you are not the only person going through something,” she said. “Everybody shares, and you get to see everybody’s viewpoint from a religious perspective of what to do about it and how they’ve had to handle it and how hard it’s been to handle.”

Prayer is the best thing to help people through things, she added.

Personally, Ellis said being a part of the group has helped her through bouts of depression and times of self-doubt.

“I was miserable when I came in, and now, I feel like I’m just beaming,” she said. “I am feeling so awesome, and it does that every time.”

The group is open to any women.

“We would love to have other people come,” Ramsey said.

For the past eight weeks, the group has been studying how to pray like Jesus, a 10-week study that explores how prayer works, whether alone, in a community, before meals, through song, before making important decisions and in giving thanks.

Debra Wilson first started coming to the group about four years ago but had to quit attending because her weekly infusion appointments changed to Tuesday mornings.

About six months ago, they changed her appointments to Thursday, so she was able to make the prayer group meetings again.

She said being a part of The Big Dogs makes her feel connected.

“You can go to church services for a year and still not ever actually know someone,” she said. “I wanted connectivity and to get to know people and feel like I was building relationships with women in the church.”

They laugh together, cry together and support each other through good times and bad.

And most importantly, they love.

“We just cannot give up that we share the love of Jesus with people so that someday, when they reach that bottom, they look and they see that someone is there for them, someone is praying for them, someone loves them,” Ramsey said.

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