How does God knit the hearts of 46 very different women together in 3 1/2 short days? LOVE! He puts it in their hearts to pour it out to Himself and then to each other.
As the volunteer team prepared for the arrival of the attendees we began to see a profound movement of the Spirit in us. We came to the quick conclusion that there would be spiritual warfare like many of us had never experienced before. So -- we put our armor on and went into battle! We prayed through the resort reclaiming any areas the enemy had used for his purposes and claimed every space for Jesus! We took authority over every power and principality sent to divide and destroy and sent them packing. When the ladies arrived on Thursday afternoon we were ready. There was such a feeling of expectancy and joy, we could hardly contain ourselves!
The first night Grace (Cbalka) gave us an overview of what she would be teaching on over the weekend - Encouraging us to Abide in Him (John 15) She gave us a beautiful visual to think through - that of a cup (us), a saucer (those closest to us) and a plate (our ministry). During our Connection Circle time we asked the women the condition of their cup - was it sitting on the saucer, upright, and being filled by the constant flow of the Holy Spirit? Was it upside down, somewhere off the saucer away from the flow, or was it just too cracked and in need of repair to be filled? Each of the 5 ladies at our table had very different answers.
All of these women came with all levels of need and brokenness. Some are in a good place and just need a bit of respite care, others came with such heavy burdens they can hardly bear up under the weight of it all. Some didn't even know what weights they carried.
So what do we do? We paint toenails, give massages, do crafts and yoga. We worship (oh do we worship!) and we listen. We pray and go into battle on their behalf and yes -- we laugh and hug and cry a lot!! And sometimes we dance! We sit with them in their pain, whether it's loss or transition or anger or sadness. We sit and bear witness to their lives.
Grace gave us some great tools to identify and pray for the people on our saucer and how to join the intercessory conversation already going on between Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father. And how to let Jesus set our boundaries. We looked at the plate of our ministry and began to realize that we can only truly minister to them from the overflow of abiding in Jesus.
Women experienced real freedom this weekend! Freedom from deep wounds inflicted by others, deep wounds of rejection and loss were healed. Freedom from the oppression of real evil and bondage - set free! We went to our knees in battle for these women and they battled for each other! In some moments of worship the Spirit of God was so heavy in the room all we could do was adore Him.
We celebrated a surprise birthday party for the women and heard their stories of how they celebrated their own birthdays growing up. Some didn't ever celebrate their birthdays - for some, these memories were painful and difficult to share. Even in this there was healing. They laughed like little girls when opening their gifts!
On Sunday afternoon when we said goodbye - there were tears of joy and hugs and exchanging of phone numbers. There were invitations to visit and promises to pray. There were new friendships formed and old friendships re-kindled and healed. There were new ministry partnerships birthed and long running partnerships strengthened.
Lives were changed and the kingdom strengthened because of LOVE!