From my last newsletter and my Facebook posts, most of you are aware that the Women’s Retreat I planned for the women that attend our church took place March 19th – 22nd. I have so much to say about this, but let me start with PRAISE OUR FATHER!!! He truly exceeded all my expectations and wishes. The retreat truly brought Ephesians 3:20 alive for me once again, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine!” Lives were changed that weekend that will never be the same! It was such a joy and an honor to serve these women and provide this experience for them. The weekend included several teachings by guest speakers, 2 fun crafts, lots of praise and worship, one hour of guided isolated prayer time, lots of laughter and fellowship, amazing food and some of God’s most beautiful scenery. Two of my male Gospel 101 teammates came to cook and serve all the meals, as well as clean up. The women didn’t have to help with that at all!! They have never had 72 hours of no cooking or cleaning and in this culture to have men do it was even more of shock to them. They were so grateful. Three weeks post retreat and the women are still praising God for the retreat and telling stories of how their daily lives and relationships with Christ have changed in a way that they have never experienced. God is so so good! I have received feedback that breaks my heart, yet also makes me rejoice in how amazing Yahweh is. Comments like, “This is the first time I have ever had 3 meals a day.” “I had an entire hour to pray all by myself without interruption.” After the first night, one lady commented, “I woke up thinking I was in Heaven.”
God also showed me once again how flexibility is important. I remember one of the foundations I learned in a youth ministry leadership program is “People are more important than the program.” This definitely came into play. There were a few planned activities that God told me in the moment to forget about because the women were playing games they hadn’t played since they were children and laughing and rolling in the grass and just enjoying the life God has given them. I was brought to tears watching the joy and relaxation that each and every one of the women were experiencing! Living a life in Christ isn’t always talking about Jesus, reading your Bible, singing praise and worship songs and prayer. Yes, those things are important, but He also stresses rest and joy and the beauty of His creation. Watching these women truly abandon all of their stress, anxiety and problems facing them at home was truly a blessing for me.
I could go on and on about the amazing things God did for and in these women, but this would be longer than it already is. So, I’m just going to let the pictures try to speak for themselves. Please see my Facebook page if you would like to see some great videos as well. I hope you enjoy seeing pure joy for yourself as much as I do.
Also, I cannot thank my home church, First Christian Church, in Springfield, Ohio, enough for all the extra financial support for this retreat, help in planning the event and all the prayers that were said weeks in advance and during the event! Ministry work like this cannot happen without incredibly supportive partners! One of the surprises for the women at the retreat was individual cards written to each lady by name that were made or bought by women back home. These were cards of encouragement and love to show the women here that they are part of a larger family. Unfortunately, the cards still have not made it here. But, I know God has a plan and I feel like they will come as a reminder to the women of the mountaintop they were on previously; possibly during a time when they have come to a valley. God knows what He is doing!
A beautiful group of women at the Women’s Retreat worship God with their singing and dancing.