International Women’s Conference Report
– by Pili Galvan
In early May we had the Sword of the Spirit International Women’s Conference in Chaska MN, U.S.A.
They were four very blessed days in which we had teachings, prayer, meditations, workshops and plenty of time to share and to bond with one another while sharing some excellent food.
The theme of the conference was: “Be Strong in the Lord and in His Mighty Power” Eph. 6:10-11.
More than 200 women from all over the Sword of the Spirit were gathered, from all four regions and from 57 communities. We were delighted to have the visit and teaching of the International President, Jean Barbara and the Servants of the Word brothers Bruce Yocum and Dan Keating.
One of the sessions was about “Being Alert”, conscious of the spiritual warfare present in the world, of the currents all around us and about the way we can respond to this as women.
Bruce Yocum explained what the Lord has been saying to the Sword of the Spirit and the prophetic word that has been given about the times we are currently living in. The foundations are being destroyed – both the spiritual and moral foundations – but the Lord will protect behind the bulwark being formed with us all those who are not ready.
We must be awake, be alert yet not alarmed.
“I am shaking the foundations of the earth, but do not be anxious for I am the One who upholds the foundations of the earth”.
One of the main gifts we have in the Sword of the Spirit is unity: unity of mind, unity of love, unity of vision, in our leadership and in ecumenism. It was precisely this what we experienced throughout the four days of the conference: a deep unity between many cultures, languages and Christian traditions. This unity strengthens our way of life in the Sword of the Spirit. Through our participation of the international community we grew in fraternity.
From all women present, around 90 were Spanish speakers and 110 spoke other languages – mainly English. We were gathered in unity by receiving teaching, singing and worshiping both in English and Spanish.
Each day was directed by a sister from each of the regions. The purpose of the conference was to strengthen the leadership, the relationships among women, our way of life and our call to ecumenism as an international community.
We had some workshops about “Gender”, “Transitional Adults” and “The ‘me’ Current”. These helped us deepen our understanding and knowledge of he world we live in and how we can respond to the current situation.
We also heard about being “Being Mission Ready”. We must be missionaries, ready to be employed by the Lord both in our personal mission as in our common mission as Sword of the Spirit. It was a higher call about what it means to be a missionary and how we often have some service, but aren’t ready for mission. Despite the call, the circumstances and fear, are we ready for mission?
One of the last sessions was about “Spiritual Warfare”: We need to recognise that we are in a battle and we need to put on the spiritual armour. We also had two incredible prayer meetings where the bonds among us grew stronger and the Lord poured the fruit of his Holy Spirit abundantly on the women leaders of the Sword of the Spirit.
There were three things that were very personally striking during the conference. First of all, the three meditations spoke to me very personally. They were “Be Alert”, “Be Calm” and “Always Giving Thanks”. “Be alert” encouraged us not to neglect our foundations: our prayer life, our reading of the scriptures, our service and life in community. “Always Giving Thanks” gave us some insight on how to develop a grateful attitude.
I really enjoyed the time to share and build relationships with other sisters. It was a huge blessing to get to know other sisters from the Sword of the Spirit and to hear about the mission they are doing in their countries and communities. It is very inspiring to see first-hand how the calling is brought to life. I also got to share with the mothers of many of my friends.
The third vivid experience I saw in the conference was the transgenerational nature of the Sword of the Spirit. There were many young leaders from all communities. It was beautiful to see the relationships between the most experienced leaders, who have been pioneers in community life with some of the younger leaders who are still being formed. Some of us got the privilege to share this time with our mothers. That speaks of the transgenerational call we have and how the new generations are taking on this call.
Jean Barbara closed the conference with an exhortation to be ready for mission and to be martyrs. We must be ready to be martyrs in this world; not always in the flesh (although it may be for some), but giving our life away in our homes, our work environments, our occupations and friendships. Be ready to defend the Kingdom of God.
Pili Galvan is originally from the Incienso de Dios community in Xalapa, Mexico. She currently lives in Lansing MI, USA and is the director of Grandly: The Strategic Grandparents Club.