Helen Chouinard

Helen's love for teaching God's Word, along with her artistic talents, led her to a unique way of exploring Scripture and sharing the gospel with others.

Topic : Work

Helen Chouinard’s motivation to use her gifts as a women’s group leader was simple. She always loved teaching and had a gift for doing it well. So when Matt Chandler stood before the church and asked for more Home Group leaders, she volunteered.

“I was a pastor’s wife and led Bible studies and Sunday school for more than 40 years,” said Helen. “I always joke and say I earn my living through photography, so I’m able to support my habit of teaching Sunday school. I love teaching God’s Word.”

Helen also loves the diverse group of women she leads. At the age of 68, she’s the oldest person in the group, while youngest members reach as low as 19, with a wide range of ages in between. The women come from varying religious backgrounds, career fields and ethnicities.

Helen’s artistic gifts play a large role in the way she explores Scripture, both with her Home Group and with the children in Kids Village.

“It’s very multicultural. It’s very much a sisterhood in the Lord,” expressed Helen. “There’s an openness that I treasure, and I’m very direct. I mean, I love people intensely, but I don’t tiptoe around. It’s like surgery. You don’t put a Band-Aid on cancer. You go straight to heart issues.”

Discipleship is the ultimate motivation behind Helen’s desire to love and lead her group well.

“I want them to want the group. But, more than that, I want them to want Jesus. I want their relationship with the Lord to grow in depth and intimacy,” shared Helen. “Whether it’s 9-year-olds or grown adults, I’m always asking, ‘What’s happening in your personal quiet time? When is that happening? What are you getting out of it? How is that changing you?’”

Helen’s artistic gifts play a large role in the way she explores Scripture, both with her Home Group and with the children in Kids Village.

“God has given me the ability to visualize and create comedic drawings and use profound photography to visually express the gospel,” she said.

“There’s so much imagery and descriptive language in Scripture. He’s our rock. He’s our shield. He’s our bread. He’s everything. God’s trying to say, ‘Okay, think about being out on a rock. You’re fully secure. That’s what I am. I’m your security. I’m your shelter. I’m your shield. I’m your protector. Grasp that.’”

Helen takes scriptural truths and creates visual imprints through her images, illustrations and calligraphy.

“I’m very visual, so I do a lot of drawings and crazy cartoons that have to do with the lesson. The children love to draw. We’re created in God’s image, so we’re creators. They’ll copy some of those drawings, and I know it helps the parents, as well as the child,” said Helen.  

“I want those visuals in their lives when they’re older. I want them to know that it’s all about the gospel. It’s all about what Christ did. It’s all about His drawing us. Jesus is the only way.”

Hospitality has also been an important aspect in the life of Helen’s Home Group.

“To me, that is what the heart longs for,” said Helen. “We meet every week because we’re looking for fellowship and for someone to ask ‘How was your week?’”

“I decided we would start the study with dinner. I have a very small kitchen with a small table, and sometimes we’ll have six, eight or ten people around this tiny table. They love it!. There has been a bonding process in this, which has really fed into where our group is now.”

The group’s bond has carried over into everyday struggles.

“We had one woman join our group who was trying to turn away from living with a guy. It was a big, big thing, and the girls just came alongside her,” Helen said. “With texting, you get messages at hard moments, and these girls are saying, ‘We’re praying for you. We’re with you. Don’t you dare…!’”

Helen also recalls a woman in her 50s attending the group. She was having a hard time with one of her children.

“Again, the women just came alongside her. Some of the situation involved broken laws, and one of the ladies in our group is a police officer. She gave the woman substantial information to comfort her. At one point, the girl had to go to court, and we prayed her family through that.”

Although Helen is a gifted teacher, she emphasizes that what God is doing in her group is not because of her.

“It has everything to do with God bringing people together and the Holy Spirit knowing who needs to be there. The encouragement and the community that’s being built is what Home Group is about.”

Everyone in Helen’s group is amazed by the Lord’s work among them.

“They come in, and they start to share how their prayers are being answered. We stop and we say, ‘Girls, look how many prayers have been answered since we started praying on this.’ They go, ‘Oh, yeah!’ That, to me, authenticates God,” Helen marveled.

“He doesn’t need authenticating but, in our hearts, we sometimes wonder if praying makes a difference. These girls are seeing clearly that God hears and answers prayer.”

One prayer request was from a teacher. She had a student whose mother had cancer.

“That mother is now coming to our Home Group. Her 9-year-old daughter comes and observes. She sees these girls loving the Lord and loving her mom,” Helen said. “We’re supposed to be looking for a community project, and the community project walked in the door!”

Everyone in the group tries to focus on being dependent upon and completely aware of all that Christ has done. That is especially important for Helen to remember as a leader and teacher.

“It’s not about my talent. It’s about how God is revealing, encouraging and building this community of girls. It’s really amazing,” Helen said.

When Helen wonders if her teaching is making a difference, she focuses on the Lord’s sufficiency.

“God put me here. We want God’s glory. He’s going to get it. Nothing thwarts His plan. I’m not looking for results. I’m trusting that this is what the girls need, and I need it, too,” she said. “You never teach without the Holy Spirit asking, ‘So how’s it going in your life, huh?’ I just want to be confident that God is achieving, and I’m not getting in His way.”