“They didn’t care how much I knew, they just wanted to know I cared.” – Patricia Simmons
“I met Bill during my senior year of college. He was a calf-roper, and it was a city girl meets cowboy attraction,” said Patricia Simmons. “When we said ‘I do’ at 23, we had no idea how to be married. It was College: Part Two, and we were partying, drinking, and fighting all the time.
“Two weeks after our daughter was born, Bill said he wanted out. I was devastated. Instead of running to my parents, God led me to be with Bill’s sister in Austin. She took me to a Bible study, and for the first time I heard who Jesus was and what He had done for me.
“While I was in Austin, Bill was in Dallas and had started reading the Bible. Because of the Lord’s work, we decided we wanted the same thing – to stay together. We had another daughter and started going to church. We became very comfortable Christians. I was doing Dallas more than
I was doing Jesus. Immersed in family and a new business, my self-worth was in what my kids achieved, not in Christ. Something was missing, and we knew it.
“When our former church was making some changes, we were given the assignment to do a site visit to Watermark. Immediately, we saw something different. As I took notes during the message and heard something I could apply
to my life, I saw that more was being demanded of me as
“Our plan was to report back what we saw, but God’s plan was for us to stay at Watermark. It was hard at first because we didn’t think we fit in. Our first community group was
a mixed group of single women and guys. That’s where we learned what authenticity looked like.
“After that, I kept bumping into single women who didn’t have a place to connect. They wanted to be here, but were alone. God gave me a heart for these women, and I was burdened for them.
“I vividly recall being in Colorado when God asked me to lead these women. I had never led a Bible study before, and this was the first time I ever yielded to God completely. Way out of my comfort zone, I agreed to lead a group, and it was challenging at first. I finally got out of the way and discovered, they didn’t care how much I knew, they just wanted to know I cared. Two single community groups formed out of that Bible study group.
“That was a turning point my life. God gave me a hunger to dig deeper. He was growing me and teaching me to do things outside of my own abilities. Under the Women’s Bible Study leadership and women like Ann Holford who spurred me on, I saw these leaders love others so well. I was becoming equipped to live a life for Christ, not just on Sundays to get my tank filled up.
“The teaching at Women’s Bible Study is so good. We often see women learn to trust and become intimate with God as they spend time in His Word. One of my favorites was our Genesis study where I saw how God used flawed people to further His Kingdom. If God can use them, He can use you and me.
“At home, Bill became dedicated to studying and memorizing Scripture. He stepped in and fulfilled the role of spiritual leader of our family. We learned to cling to Christ together. Without Christ, we would be divorced, but now we celebrate 40 years of marriage. We no longer check the box, but strive to model Christ for our girls, their spouses and our grandchildren.
“God used my seven years in Women’s Bible Study to prepare me when I was invited to join the Watermark team traveling to Uganda last spring. My initial reaction was fear because I had never done anything like that, but Bill and I prayed about it together.
“I am glad I said yes. We went to a place in Uganda where our ministry partner, African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries (ALARM),* had not been. Women and men walked two hours to be with us. I taught on being one in marriage, forgiveness, and healing from the wounds of trauma. We ministered to women impacted by extreme poverty, HIV/AIDS, husbands who beat them, and one woman whose husband is a witch doctor. Despite these differences, we’re all looking for the same thing – Christ – who, in the end, is the only thing we need.
“Six women made professions of faith. Seeing them leave their pain at the foot of the cross taught me a joy in
the Lord that I can’t express. Our bond was deep, and I’m different today because of it. We’re all sinners saved by Christ and God’s grace. It’s only through God’s grace that we have any claim to His mercy and abundance.
“When leaving Uganda, we all cried and hugged. I told my friends, ‘I’ll see you in heaven if I don’t see you again on this earth. You are my sisters.’”
*ALARM is Watermark’s ministry partner serving orphans and at-risk children.