(re-posted from June 2009)
I’ve finally come out of my “post-retreat exhaustion induced coma,” and have made it to the office to post a blog about our weekend camp with the Timbali women. IT WAS GREAT and I know this blog isn’t going to do justice in reporting all the great things God did.
87 women attended the camp, which started on Friday afternoon and went through Sunday. Our theme for the weekend was NEW LIFE (Imphilo Lensha), and our hope was that the women would be challenged to truly live the abundant life God has for us, and leave behind the “old life” stuff that can keep us in bondage.
Friday night my friend Jacci spoke to the women, and highlighted the truly amazing exchange it is when God allows us to trade in the old life for the new. That night we were able to show the movie, “Yesterday,” which tells the story of a Zulu woman named Yesterday, who finds out she has HIV and has to make the choice to care for her abusive husband who is dying of AIDS. The movie did a great job of showing the struggles typical to women in southern Africa and stressed themes like hope in the face of HIV, and forgiveness. Saturday morning Nelly shared her story with the women. Nelly is a Swazi woman who is truly living the new life and has an amazing faith in the face of many of the same struggles so many of the women face daily.
Hearing the stories of Yesterday and Nelly really helped set the stage for the women to tell their own stories to each other. My friend Marcia showed the women a way to map their lives out on paper, and later in the day the women were able to use that as a tool to share with their small groups. It was really beautiful to see the women telling their stories, praying, and sharing scripture with each. Talking openly and honestly about your life, especially the traumatic experiences that are so common to women here, just isn’t something that’s done much. But as the women shared I think God was able to use others to minister his love and healing to their hearts and help each other release their hurts and burdens to Him.
Marcia shared Saturday night about “Choosing Life” and Sunday morning I talked about the parable of the Sower and the Seed, and making our hearts “good soil” where growth and life can happen and God’s word can accomplish it’s purposes. I LOVE seeing the power of God’s word at work in the lives of these women.
My favorite part of the weekend was worshipping with the women. As the weekend progressed the singing got louder and more joyful, and by Saturday morning the women were dancing all over the chapel. Sunday morning some even started picking up the chairs and raising them over their heads as they followed the dance lines up and down the aisles. Lots of singing, shouting and stomping. It was GREAT.
We also had a sharing time with the women on Sunday morning. One of the older women got up to share and by the time she was done, had all the women chanting, “I want this new life!” Others shared that they felt revived after the weekend, and that they were encouraged to know that others are facing the same problems as them. One of the women, who’s husband is very sick and daughter died last month shared that she didn’t want to come and just wanted to stay home alone, but that throughout the weekend she felt her spirits being lifted.
So, I’m very thankful for a good weekend and for the fruit we were able to see. Please pray that the Lord would protect these women and that new life would continue to grow in them!