Donna Gentile attended church, had a great job and a wonderful husband but always felt something was missing. She decided studying the Bible might fill that void. Her church did not offer a daytime Bible Study, so she searched the newspaper for one. She opted for “Choosing Christ Character” at First Baptist Church in Slidell.
“The Bible study lessons went through every character quality of Christ,” said Donna. “It made me analyze myself and understand that being good is not all there is. Our relationship with Christ is what really matters.”
The women in the Bible study invited Donna to attend their church services. She was reluctant to leave the denomination she had attended most of her life, and turned down their invitation. When Heaven’s Gates & Hell’s Flames, a touring evangelistic drama produced by Reality Outreach Ministry, came to First Baptist, Donna felt drawn to attend.
The presentation of the gospel through a series of skits performed by the drama team deeply touched Donna. At the conclusion, the pastor called upon people to choose heaven or hell. Donna committed her life to Christ and joined First Baptist where she became active in Christian service.
Donna volunteered to assist with the “Choosing Christ Character” Bible study. As hostess, she welcomed newcomers and assessed their spiritual needs. Martha, the leader of the study, observed Donna’s spiritual maturity and asked her if she would teach children brought to church by the bus ministry. Donna welcomed the invitation as a call from God and an opportunity to creatively utilize her Early Childhood Education degree from Ursuline College.
“I worked with eight to ten year olds. Most came of them came from single parent homes. Few of the children had been exposed to Christianity,” she recalled. “I absolutely loved the class and the opportunity to put my God given creativity to use. I put my whole heart into each class and as a result, many children accepted Christ and were baptized.” One boy was so devoted he rode his bike to class every Sunday. Even though he is now grown and moved away he still keeps in touch with Donna. Another student needed glasses. Her parents were unemployed, so Donna collected donations to buy her the glasses.
Donna also pursued the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC) certification offered through First Baptist church. The five level course consisted of rigorous training, completion of both a theological and practical counseling test and a minimum of fifty hours of supervised counseling experience. Donna completed the course and began counseling. Counseling proved emotionally draining. She quickly realized her true God given purpose was teaching children and leading them to Christ.
Following years of teaching, Donna created a collection of crafts which helped her Sunday school class build their lives around Christ’s character qualities. “The spiritual message in the crafts kept them coming back for more,” said Donna.
She joined the Southern Christian Writers Guild to learn how to get published. After much research, she wrote a book proposal and Rainbow Publishers responded with a publishing contract for not one but two books. The books, soon became Rainbow publishers’ and Amazon’s best-selling books: Bible Crafts on a Shoestring Budget: Chenille Wire and Straws and More Bible Crafts on a Shoestring Budget: Craft Foam and Felt. She has also been published in various Sunday school curriculums and articles for Lifeway Christian Resources in Nashville, Tennessee.
Donna is writing Sunday school games for www.kidsSundayschool.com and developing a new reproducible craft book series for children ages 5-10, soon to be released in 2012. She invites you to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Facebook and/or Twitter.