2009 - Vol. 31
Sent on Mission
the International Women's Conference in Plymouth, Michigan, USA – May 3-7,
report by Debbie Putnam, Jan Munk, Jeanne Kun.
by Bobbie Tedesco
More than 115 senior women leaders, pastoral workers, and Kairos mission
leaders gathered May 3-7 in Plymouth, Michigan, USA, for the Sword of the
Spirit’s International Women’s Conference. We represented 42 communities
and 22 countries. We were graciously hosted in families and households
of the Word of Life Community in Ann Arbor, and transported by community
members to the lovely St. John’s Retreat Center in nearby Plymouth.
St. John's Retreat Center
The conference was entitled “A Woman Sent on Mission.” The Scripture
verse from Isaiah 6 chosen as the conference theme helped us focus our
hearts and minds on better understanding God’s call to us and responding
“I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send,
and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me’” (Isaiah 6:8).
We are here because
we are missionaries
During the conference, words from the Lord came in many forms. Even
at the first session, Jean Barbara, the newly-installed President of the
Sword of the Spirit, offered what amounted to prophetic comments which
set the tone for the conference. “In these difficult economic times, it
costs a lot of money to bring all the women leaders together. Some would
view such a conference as a luxury; we are not here because it is a luxury.
We are here because we are missionaries.” He spoke of the importance of
gathering together in order to advance the purposes of God and our mission
in the Sword of the Spirit. “The Lord has called you; the Lord will equip
you to go back and serve in your communities. He will pour out grace upon
As we entered into our first time of worship together, Najwa Shebaya,
a member of the International Women’s Coordinating Committee, encouraged
the women to set aside their fears and their concerns about how they appeared
to one another, what others might think, and fully enter into freedom in
worship together before our God who loves each of us.
It can be difficult for women to relate easily in large groups and with
many others that they don’t know. With differences in cultures factored
in, one could expect an even greater challenge. Yet this was not the case.
There was a special grace upon our relationships which allowed for an ease
of love, openness, and trust among us.
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Call, One Mission, One Voice
the first morning of the conference my personal daily reading and meditation
was on the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-10). The line that struck me from this
verse was “the sheep follow him for they know his voice.” I sensed the
Lord asking me, “Do you know my voice? Amidst all the hustle and bustle
of the day, amidst all the voices you hear, do you know my voice? You are
a woman sent on mission, but more importantly, do you know the voice that
sends you on that mission? You are on a mission for my purposes. You do
not send yourselves on that mission; the agenda is not yours. You are sent
on a mission for my purposes, heed my voice.”
the week went on there were words that stood out from the different sessions;
words like: “move!” “for a time like this,” “open doors,” “take the risk,”
“this is a time of grace, “only for a season,” “the harvest is plentiful,”
”you are a part and not the whole.” These words imply not only immediacy
but urgency in what the Lord wants us to do for him.
believe the Lord called the women leaders in the Sword of the Spirit to
this gathering to equip, enrich, and empower us to further his plans.
equipped us by strengthening our character through the reflections that
allowed us to look into ourselves and see areas that we need to grow in
and to surrender to him; areas that may be hindrances to his working more
fully in our lives and making us worthy vessels for him.
equipped us through the talks. They enlightened us about where he has been
leading and directing us in the past, today, and where he seems to be leading
us in the days to come. The talks helped us understand how we should respond
in our personal lives and in community.
enriched us through the sisterhood that developed at the conference, through
encouragement we received, and through the sharing of our lives with those
we already knew or had just come to know.
empowered us through prophetic words, prayers, and worship sessions that
recharged us with his Holy Spirit.
past days I felt that the Lord worked in our lives to bring us to a clearer
focus of where he is calling us; reminding us that we are one in his international
community of communities. He gathered his women this week and what I saw
nations, cultures, and languages,
Coloso, City on a Hill,
just one people, one common way of life, one universal language of love,
response to one call, one mission, one voice, the Lord’s own..
Angeles, California, USA
participants reflections > here