“I see myself as someone who is passionate about ‘capital T’ Truth,” said Amy Aupperlee, the Women’s Pastor at Irving Bible Church (IBC), in Irving, Texas. “I want to see people unleashed from something that is false, that they have been carrying their whole lives. From my daughter, to the women I serve at church, I want them to be released in the truth of who they truly are–not how they see themselves, or how they are expected to be, but how God sees them. I’m just really passionate about that.”
Amy grew up in a farming community in the Texas panhandle. “I had an incredible childhood. I treasured growing up on the farm,” Amy said. She learned to work and play hard, to be practical and resourceful, and “to be all things to all people, because in a small town, you have nothing if not one another.”
“I grew up in a conservative Southern Baptist home, was taught the Scriptures, was taught to memorize Scripture, was taught to go to church, and was taught to live the right way,” Amy said. “I made the mistake of believing what people told me because it was told to me, not because I explored it on my own. That really paved the way for me to just fall in line.”
“When I was 23, my world fell apart. I had gotten married at a young age, and found out the man I married was not interested in remaining married,” Amy said. That’s when she discovered that when one just falls in line, there is no guarantee that the desired results will also fall in line. “When we rely on anything other than God Himself to be our Truth and direct us, there’s going to be failure,” she said. “Relying on tradition, or relying on another person to help us be who we are supposed to be is not going to be enough. It was not until I experienced failure that I looked around and saw that doing the right thing was not enough. When we finally see that the things of this world do not satisfy the deepest, inmost desires, we can look up and look for the answer. I found that at 23. It was God Himself. It was in finding out who God was, who He said I was–not who my church, my parents, my siblings, or my friends said I was–that I began to experience freedom.”
This new freedom allowed Amy to move to Dallas, get a new job in family financial planning, find new places of worship, and meet new people. “I was single. I was in DFW, which is like the Mecca of the Bible Belt. I could not get enough of Scripture, and I felt God was saying to me, ‘You have time. Go get educated. I’m going to use you later. Go get ready.’” So she enrolled at Dallas Theological Seminary and began working on her masters. She wondered if she was preparing to be a missionary. She hoped it wasn’t going to lead to anything like traditional women’s ministry. “That just seemed to fit in with somebody’s expectations of me, and I love to operate outside of people’s expectations, on purpose. I just felt like God was saying, ‘It’s time.’ So I went out of obedience.” It was at that time she met Joel, who would become her husband. And she did work in missions for a while, with I Am Second/e3 Partners, and Harvesters Reaching The Nations, where she ran the statewide operations for an orphanage in South Sudan. Then she married Joel, returned to corporate life, and they had their daughter, Kate.
“I was a new mom, so I started attending Bible study, just knowing I needed community,” Amy said. “I really began to connect with women there. It took a couple of semesters, but once I did, it was gold.” One of the women helped Amy identify some of her gifts like administration, hospitality and teaching, and introduced her to the women in leadership. They recognized her gifts too, and invited her to join the speaking team. Eventually a position opened in Event Planning. “You want me to throw parties?! I am so in!” she said. “I started working part time, and stayed faithful to what God was giving, even in the small places, showing up and saying yes to any ministry opportunities, and using the gifts in the place God had given me. The next thing I know, on June 1st of last year, I was promoted to the Women’s Pastor position. It was so scary. I feel like the most incapable person of all. I love to have fun and laugh and goof off and tell jokes. I like to fly by the seat of my pants. I like to be out of the box and keep people on their toes a little bit. I need a spinny chair to sit through a meeting. I’m not the person for this, but God said ‘Go’. Ann Voskamp said, ‘The most powerful gift you can give to God is not your gift, but your yes.’” So she said yes.
“The more I spent time at IBC working with women, the more I saw women who were suffering at the hands of tradition, and expectations, and the way they’re supposed to be. My passion grew and grew to help women know that they are seen and loved for who God created them to be, and who they are called to be–not what anyone else believes. It doesn’t even matter what I think of them–but what the Lord says of them. What God says is true. That is enough. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough, but it is. The most valuable thing is your yes. He will redeem and will make perfect the yes that we surrender to Him.”
Amy invites women to join her in Bible study on Tuesdays, in either the morning or evening classes, and discover God’s Truth for themselves. “We are studying I and II Thessalonians this semester, verse by verse. This study is phenomenal! If you are intimidated by studying the Bible, this is the study is for you. If you are a scholar of Scripture, this is the study for you. We are very passionate about studying God’s Word in community. We do not do this in a vacuum. We rub up against each other and learn from each other because all the perspectives give us a better, more accurate picture of God. We would love to have you!”
For women unable to join Amy’s study, she says, “Find a group of women who want to go deep into the Word. Once you find that, it’s a foundation for a community. The best communities are integrated with women of all different ages and all different backgrounds. Just say yes.” She recommends Bible Study Fellowship International, a non-denominational organization that offers weekly Bible study classes to women, men, children and teens, in locations around the world. She also suggests joining the Irving Bible Facebook Live group that meets every weekday at 8:30 a.m. CT, where each of the members of the teaching team, including Amy, take turns leading an online Bible study. “We are going through the entire New Testament this year,” she said. During the teachings, group members are greeting each other, responding to what they’re hearing, sharing prayer requests and updates, and praying for each other. “It is a great community. If you don’t have a place anywhere else, check it out.”