December 2019 / January 2020 - Vol.107
An Update on Women Living Single for the Lord in Sword of the Spirit
'Only One Thing is Necessary'
Our Bethany Association 6th International Conference was held in San Jose, Costa Rica from August 14th-18th 2019. This year, 24 sisters came to the conference, 18 of these sisters have lifelong commitments to live single for the Lord. There were four sisters, who have made a full commitment to be single for a period of a year, with yet another two sisters, also in discernment. Of these sisters, there were five women from the Philippines, seven from North America, four from Europe, and eight from the Iberoamericana region.
At the very heart of our conference this year, the central theme was, ‘only one thing is necessary’ from Luke 10:42. We were reminded that Jesus, himself, teaches us, our real priority is and always will be our relationship with him. This is essential in our call to be single for him. Here is the greatest treasure of our lives, the ‘one thing that is ‘always’ necessary’.
A Time of Inspiration, Reflection and Challenge
Through prayer, the sessions and sharing, we were called to deepen our commitment, to be strengthened in our conviction, in living our lives more fully for him. God has a purpose for the Bethany sisters in the Sword of the Spirit. He is also calling many more women to this way of life, among our communities, preparing us to be ready to help them. This came through clearly, as we reflected on the prophetic vision and witness that God has given to us in Bethany through the years.
We were blessed to have rich input from members of Arbol de Vida, Luisma Bravo, from the Servants of the Word, Gaston de Meserville, a coordinator from the community and Lili Perez, a senior women leader from the community too. All shared on key aspects of our Christian life. We were encouraged and challenged by their teaching and personal sharing.
These formal presentations covered the foundations of Christian life, reminding us that we were created to be with God. Using Jesus as our model, we learn how to grow in maturity, to maintain affective life and work balance, not heading towards ‘burn out’. Again, and again, we were brought back to sitting at the Lord’s feet, like a disciple. (Luke 10:38-42)
Our Identity as Bethany
As we celebrated our tenth anniversary, we also took time to reflect on the prophetic vision and witness of Bethany. In considering, our identity as Bethany, we looked at the prophetic word that we had received, especially in the birth and formation of our association. There have been many inspiring words and encouragement given to us in our years together. In this prophetic “changing of tide” season, the Lord continues to speak to us of hope:
Fruitfulness is what God has for us – ‘under the soil life is sprouting’. He has spoken to us of ‘a deep river bringing life, strength and refreshment to the Sword of the Spirit.’ The Lord has often called us ‘to freedom, to live and love with undivided hearts’ and that he is doing healing work among us.’As women belonging to Bethany, the Lord has called us forward to take our place in the bulwark. We have a service of love, a particular role and mission that he has given to us as women, who are called to be single for the Lord. There is a heightened sense of “corporate contribution” among the Bethany sisters for the Sword of the Spirit. We are to learn what it means, to offer sacrificial love for this way of life to be real, to fulfil what the Lord has created us to be. He calls us to be faithful, holding in difficult conditions and in challenging times. The Lord is ever working in our hearts to bring about his plan for us to love with undivided hearts. We know this way of life is to be treasured, offered to the Lord and also shared with our brothers and sisters, for the good of the body.
Bethany Business Meeting/Regional Reports
During the Bethany Business Meeting and Regional Reports, one of the topics highlighted, was helping younger women discern their state of life call. ‘State of Life Discernment Resource for Young Women and Pastoral Leaders’, is now available for use in our regions, as well as support and training for pastoral workers. The Bethany Website has also been designed and recently launched. Again, this helps to raise the public profile of Bethany, as well as promoting the support and service available from Bethany across the Sword of the Spirit.
Discernment is an area that many of us have been involved with over the years. We believe this is an area of service, that we could offer to the Sword of the Spirit. Our time, energy and gifts are an expression of our love of God. We desire to strengthen our communities and support the mission of the Sword of the Spirit. As part of our witness, we ask the Lord to help us present the consecrated life, as attractive and sustainable, desiring to draw more women to this way of life.
Some of the evenings we enjoyed with the young women from the local community, praying, sharing, laughing together. There was also, an evening when we took time to honor Beth Melchor and Myriam Torres, two of our founding sisters, who had died in the last year. We just shared stories, with some gentle fellowship.
Blessings from the Arbol de Vida and the Sword of the Spirit
We spent a wonderful week among the brothers and sisters of the Arbol de Vida in San Jose. They welcomed and looked after us all, like we were family. We are deeply grateful for the many ways they served us, sharing the incredible richness of their rich community life with us. We were blessed by them through the teaching sessions, translators, transport, kindness and immeasurable family hospitality.
All of us in Bethany Association, are always grateful to all the pastoral leaders that support our sisters, who attend this conference. Also, for the financial support, that makes it possible, for so many to come.
- Sherry Snyder (President of International Bethany Council)