Torrential rains through the night and into the morning caused for a late start to the Women’s Conference in Nebbi, Uganda. The roads were not drivable to Acres of Hope so the West team hung out in entirety at the Women’s Conference. What looked to be a long day ended up being a day of speechless West people and hearts connected to the divine.
At the start time of 9am we had all of ABOUT five people there. It sort of felt like West does on Sunday mornings until 10:10 ;0 – ha! My fear of “killing a church” had transpired over to Uganda and killing a women’s conference before it could begin.
As the room began to fill over the next hour, I was all ready with my “preacher plan.”
I had a nice little “handout.” With a picture of a footprint made of stones on the front and the Moses story inside, followed by verses with the fruit of the spirit, including discussion questions. The plan was to have everyone draw a timeline, then discuss how God is with us throughout our journey. If we immerse ourselves in behaviors that reflect the fruit of the spirit, then we will be closer to God, thus able to find balance in life.
I had anticipated that the concept of a “timeline” might not be easily understood, so we had West folks positioned throughout the room to help them with the activity.
“Andrea, they are struggling . . . .most don’t know how to write.”
Well . . . so much for the little “booklet.”
So . . .
As we told the story of Moses, we had them draw pictures representing the different parts of Moses’ journey – the basket in the river Nile, encountering the burning bush, the plagues. At each of these junctions we discussed where God was with Moses and how Moses either felt or did NOT feel the presence of God.
They compared that to their personal lives.
“When do you feel distant from God?” I asked.
“When I was accused of being a witch by some gossipy neighbors.”
“I feel abandoned by God because I am barren and my husband has strayed from me.”
“I feel distant from God because I am always hungry and need to provide for my family. Why won’t God make it better?”
Well – nothing like feeling hopeless as a leader.
Having no panacea, I resorted to the biblical example of Israelite people trying to flee persecution, continually having setbacks, and then wandering in the wilderness, sometimes feeling connected to God, but many times straying from an awareness of God’s presence.
I wondered if they were getting anything out of the talk at all. It seemed sort of pointless . . . I would talk, the interpreter would talk, and I would wait to see if they looked bored to tears. It is tough to teach with a language barrier.
The coolest thing happened, however, when we read, “God told Moses, I will be with you.”
I said that God did not promise it would be easy. Nor did God say they would not struggle. God said, “I will be with you and you are not alone.”
At that point – the room erupted in a universal word – “Amen!”
When we closed in prayer the women simultaneously began to pray; sixty plus women uniting their voices together in earnest prayers to God. If anyone ever doubted that there was something bigger than we are that exists in the universe, today there was no denying it. The electricity in the room as a result of their prayer was a universal connection to a powerful and always present God.
What a joy it was to remember that together, today!