Sunday, Peggy was to speak first and then I was slated to be the last speaker to close the retreat. Saturday night was rough for me as my cold reignited with fury. With a very sore throat and much coughing, I did not get a good night's sleep though NyQuil helped a little. I was worried about my talk.
|From left: Mary, Peggy, me, Liz, Kathy, Fangfang|
The first was a commitment to apply all that they had learned at the retreat and to be a Christian influence in whatever sphere they were in. Nearly everyone in the room stood up and committed themselves to this. The second was a request for those who wanted to lead some sort of group. About a 15 or 20 stood up. The third was a request for those who wanted to be a coach and train other leaders. About a dozen came forward to the front. The last was a call to those who wanted to receive Christ as Savior. We knew there were 7 or 8 women who were not believers. Six came forward wanting to become Christ followers! What an amazing time!
|Mary with Aileen who heads|
a ministry to prostitutes called
the Starfish Project
In my message I took the women through the genealogy of Matthew 1 and briefly described the four broken women included by the gospel writer. Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. Stories not normally told in a culture that exalted respectable men. Then I traveled through the gospels and told stories of women Jesus encountered, encouraged and exalted. Women who were rejected by their culture and families. Women who were considered the lowest of the low. The Samaritan woman at the well, the Canaanite woman, the woman with the bleeding, the sinful woman (probably a prostitute), the woman taken in adultery, the widow with two coins, Mary learning at Jesus' feet, and Martha in a theological discussion about resurrection. And of course the resurrected Jesus showing himself to the women first, not the men, as witnesses to an event (women were not credible witnesses in Jewish courts).
Everyone came forward. After they poured their cup of water I gave each one a poem I had done in calligraphy written by Corrie Ten Boom. It seemed appropriate.
Afterwards, Hope led the women in a time of prayer requests. It was heartbreaking to hear of some very difficult circumstances. Quite a number of them shared about troubled marriages and their attempts to live out their faith in the midst of abuse or with non-believing husbands. The women were open and vulnerable with their stories. I cling to the truth that God redeems their stories and lovingly weaves them into a wonderful tapestry for His glory.