Carla Gober Baker PhD, MS, MPH Director, Center for Spritual Life & Wholeness, Londa Linda Univesity, Loma Linda, California

Journey of Joy: Healthy Emotions and Holy Hearts is the name of the new DVD Bible study series produced by the North American Division (NAD) Women’s Ministries Department. It is the first DVD Bible studies for women developed by the Adventist Church in North America. The series focuses on women’s unique challenges and their desire to experience a close relationship with God while maintaining a healthy life balance, despite their circumstances. 

As we consider the mind-boggling number of responsibilities that 21st-century women face, together with the tangle of emotions they wrestle with as they try to balance the demands of caring for family and home while very often working outside the home, always putting others’ needs before their own, the question that immediately comes to mind is, How is it possible for a woman’s life experience to be a “journey of joy”? 

These Bible studies help women recognize that joy and happiness are not the same. The journey of joy is not necessarily a journey of happiness, but with God it can be a journey of satisfied longings and lives filled with meaning, no matter what the circumstances. And that precious truth makes all the difference.

The DVD presentations feature speaker Carla Gober, PhD, a professor of religious studies at Loma Linda University and director of the university’s Center for Spiritual Life and Wholeness. She has been a speaker at women’s ministries events for many years and is well-known by women in NAD. As a woman, she is also familiar with women’s needs and, as a theologian and a counselor, is well-qualified to address those issues.

The studies draw entirely on stories of people in the Bible. The student is led to investigate the lives of individuals who learned what it means to follow God and experience healing that goes beyond personal brokenness. According to Carla Gober, “While the people and stories differ, each one of them reveals something about God and about what happens when God’s love touches a heart.” 

The series consists of eleven studies on two DVDs plus two workbooks—a Leader’s Guide and a Study Guide for participants. The Leader’s Guide contains step-by-step instructions and tips for successfully leading small group studies. For each lesson there is a teaching outline, support material, and discussion questions to encourage group learning. The studies are designed for the students to complete each week’s lesson in the Study Guide first, then view the DVD presentation in the small group setting. 

The Study Guide (workbook) for participants, with 136 pages, contains in-depth resources to help the student discover the rich treasures in the Bible. Students are encouraged to spend thoughtful time each week completing the written portion of the studies and applying the lesson to their lives. In this way, the Study Guide is much more than a workbook; it becomes the journal of a woman’s personal spiritual journey. 

The lessons are taught inductively, meaning that they focus on the main text and generally do not skip around in the Bible. Carla Gober feels that “the best way to understand a text or passage is to explore it carefully and mine it deeply until its wisdom and truth become more evident. By extensively exploring a passage, we allow it to speak for itself. Spending this kind of time with a text can be lifechanging, because it gives a text the chance to reach into the heart and mind and affect the life.”

Gober’s main objective for the studies is that each woman will come to understand the profound sense in which she is loved by God, and that this understanding will affect her outlook on life, how she views herself, and how she views others.

Although the studies are designed to be used in a small group setting, they are well-suited for individual studies. With the DVD format, it is easy for a novice to lead out. When the studies are used in a church setting, members are encouraged to invite their friends from the community to attend. Furthermore, the hope of the NAD Women’s Ministries Department is that individual members will catch the vision of using these non-doctrinal studies with their friends, family members, and coworkers who desire to study the Bible in an informal setting such as a member’s home. 

The kit containing the Leader’s Guide and one Study Guide is available for $49.99 from your Adventist Book Center and from AdventSource. Each participant will need her own Study Guide which sells for $9.99 each or packs of five for $44.99.