What an amazing weekend! The women’s conference was the first-ever for this church. They’d originally expected 60 attendees, but approximately 200 registered. Some ladies came from other churches in the city, but some drove for nearly 3 hours to get here.
I spoke on overcoming fear – the same theme that North American women are finding helpful. At the end of the third session, I invited them to write out those things that have caused them shame, pain, deep disappointment, or grief – anything that might be hindering them in their relationship with the Lord – and then nail it to a wooden cross at the front of the sanctuary.
After the first woman stepped forward, the rest poured into the aisles and inched their way to the front. Afterwards, one woman told me that no one addresses the issues that we spoke about, and it’s time to speak up as we did.
All messages were presented through my translator, Eszter. Everyone enjoyed a hearty laugh when she misunderstood the word dark (as in “As a little girl, I was afraid of the dark”). She translated me as saying, “As a little girl, I was afraid of the duck.”
The weekend held two other highlights. The first was visiting a 45-year-old lady in the local hospital on Saturday. She had registered for the conference, but last Tuesday she started having seizures and bleeding from her mouth. Her husband took her to the hospital, and doctors diagnosed her with a brain tumor. She had surgery on Thursday.
I wasn’t sure what to expect upon walking into her room, but any misgivings were quickly laid aside. She smiled warmly from her bed, and when I shook her hand, she continued to hold it in hers. We had a nice visit, with Eszter’s help, and then I was able to pray for her and her family. She had such a sweet attitude about her circumstances; my heart was blessed. Rather than complaining, she said, “I’m so thankful I didn’t suffer for long with this tumor. It came fast, and the doctors have already removed it.” Whether or not it was malignant has yet to be determined. She has five children.
The other highlight was that Gene spent time in jail on Sunday. Wait a minute – that didn’t sound right! What I mean is – he was able to minister to about 30 inmates in the local prison. This prison is a holding area of sorts, for those who are awaiting their trial and sentencing. Some are there for robbery, others for murder, and other such crimes.
They met in the corridor between the cells. After the male prisoners were seated, they were ordered to face forward. That’s when a half dozen female prisoners entered behind them and sat at the back. When the service ended, the women were led out before the men were allowed to turn around. Gene shared his testimony, and then the group wanted to ask questions about life in Canada. They knew only one thing about our country – that the flag has a maple leaf on it.
If Gene could have his way, he’d like to minister at this facility every Sunday, along with our IM friend Barb and the Hungarian believers who accompany her. And speaking of Barb – combine Billy Graham’s fervor for evangelism with the Energizer Bunny’s oomph, and you’ve got Barb Gorman. She’s in her late 60s, a widow for nearly 25 years. She stepped out in faith about 8 years ago and began serving the Lord in Hungary. She teaches English, shares the Gospel with children and adults in a variety of creative ways, is like a mother to the inmates at the prison, and the list goes on. She could sure use some coworkers, though, because the opportunities and spiritual needs are so numerous. Anyone out there who would love to partner with Barb in ministry?