What a day this turned out to be! The room filled with women of all ages – from mothers with nursing babies to little grannies. Iwona was delighted to see an elderly woman with whom she’d shared Christ a few days ago – a lady who’d given up hope for living. When I got up to speak, I felt as though the women weren’t sure what to expect. They’d come out of curiosity about the theme – “Fearless and Free” – but unsure about me as a North American woman bringing the message and about the message itself. I felt a little unsure, too, speaking through a translator to these women who live in a different culture and wondering about the relevance of my message to the specific needs in their lives.
It didn’t take long to see that the theme was the right one. When I listed various fears that women struggle with and then asked for a show of hands from those who could relate, many hands went up. As the women looked around the room, an expression of surprise went up. It seemed they were pleasantly surprised to see that they weren’t the only ones struggling in this way.
It also didn’t take long to see that the message about facing the storms in our lives was exactly what some needed to hear. Several women had tears running down their cheeks. There was a 15-minute break between session one and two, and during that time a couple of women came to speak with me. One spoke broken English. She handed me a handwritten note, also in broken English, that said, “I in storm for eight years. Divorce. Husband abuse my children.” She turned her back to the women behind her and her eyes filled with tears. She allowed me to give her a big hug and then pray for her. A woman with a broken heart – “God, please embrace her and be her refuge. Be her help in this time of trouble.”
By the time we reached the end of the third session, I knew the women felt comfortable. I presented the Gospel message and invited them to pray with me if they wanted to place their saving faith in Christ. I also asked them to take a piece of blank paper and write out the pain and shame from their past, and to give it to the Lord once for all by ripping it up. Within a couple of minutes, the sound of tearing paper could be heard across the room. What a joy to know that the Lord was working in their hearts. “Thank You, God, for beginning this good work in their lives. Please bring it to perfection. Amen.”
After the conference, Diane and I enjoyed dinner with three IM gals. What a joy to get to know them better. I pray that over time, as I get to know them better, I might bring encouragement to them in their ministries. And after dinner, Iwona took us to see a massive cathedral – it was an amazing structure. How does one describe it? I wish I could post a picture but taking photos was not allowed. Statues of the saints, gold filigree, intricate handpainted design on the ceiling, stained glass windows. Amazing architecture.
People were kneeling and praying. There was an attitude of reverence and quiet and yet, one can’t help but think of the human tradition on which their religion is based. It’s not about relationship. There was no joy on the people’s faces. “Lord, draw them to Yourself. Shine Your light into their hearts.”
And then Iwona took us to yet another restaurant for hot chocolate (thick, like drinking a melted dark chocolate candy bar) and fresh lemon torte. Oh my. There’s no way I can lose weight on this trip! After that, she said, “Come! I’ll show you where Copernicus went to university.” So off we went, down a narrow cobblestone street, to the very door through which Copernicus entered to study.
By the time we reached the hostel, Diane and I were so tired that we could hardly stand up. But that’s when heart-to-heart woman-talk began. She shared with me the details of losing her 26-year-old son to a brain aneurysm 11 years ago. Now I know why she’s responsible for missionary care. Her heart is so tender and caring. I’m in good hands at this time.