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Steph Martin

Stephanie Martin, a writer and editor in Colorado, has 20 years of Christian publishing experience.

In The News

Washington, D.C.—Mary Beth Baker was determined not to let $25,000 in student loans prevent her from devoting her life to Christ. The 28-year-old public relations professional had to be free of debt before entering a convent, so she turned to crowdfunding for assistance.

When Baker’s story went public, she quickly met her goal. “Thank you so much!” she tweeted. “I’m all set. But I won’t turn away prayers.”

In August, the self-described “hardcore Catholic” is slated to enter the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville. Before then, she has to dramatically pare down her lifestyle. “You have to get rid of everything you own, so I will slowly be giving away my library and my clothes and sell my car,” she said.

Baker first pondered the move last year, when she was dissatisfied with her job and with dating. She prayed about it and then met with a priest.

Being invited to join a convent that focuses on Christ makes Baker feel “incredibly blessed.” She says, “It’s really about falling in love. I love the idea of being able to live for Christ with an undivided heart.”

To enter the convent, Baker has to take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. She’ll no longer be able to earn any money; instead, her days will be devoted to prayer and serving the community. “It’s a life of poverty, and that’s the beauty of it,” she says. “You embrace it.”

According to a recent study, almost 70 percent of religious institutions have turned away someone because of outstanding student loans. Baker’s college had already forgiven some of her debt, but it could be incurred again if she were to leave religious life.

Sources: abcnews.go.com, huffingtonpost.com, christianpost.com

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Discussion Questions for Student Small Groups

What’s your reaction to Baker’s big decision? Can you relate at all to why she took that step? Explain.

What do you think would be the hardest part of joining a convent or monastery? If you had to get rid of all your personal belongings, which would you struggle with the most, and why?

What does it mean to truly live for Jesus? Does it require more dedication to your faith to join a religious institution or to stand out as a Christian in everyday life? Explain.

What’s the difference, if any, between loving Jesus and being in love with him? How might people be able to tell if you’re in love with Jesus? Does that mean you can’t be in love with someone else, too? Explain.

Why do possessions and money often get in the way of people’s relationship with Jesus? How can you tell when you have “enough” stuff—or when it’s time to purge your life of some barriers to Jesus?

What does it take to embrace poverty or hardship? Would you be willing to suffer deprivation if it meant you’d feel closer to God? Why or why not?

If you could use crowdfunding for a major event or project, what would it be, and why? What are you willing to do to support other people’s goals and dreams?

How do you feel about Baker’s college forgiving some of her debt because she was entering a convent? What types of “debts” do you need to forgive in order to devote your life to Jesus?

When have you felt God calling you to take a big step or to change your direction? How did you decide what to do?

In general, are you satisfied with the direction your life is heading? Why or why not? What can you do to ensure that your faith journey stays “on track” as you grow up and head out on your own?

Scripture links: 1 Samuel 1:21-28; Matthew 4:18-22; 16:24-27; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 16:1-15; John 12:24-26; Philippians 3:7-11; and James 2:5.

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