Surprised by God

At the end of the first week of December (December 4-7, 2008), 120 young women involved in discipling other young women from their local churches have gathered from all across Romania at Selimbar (Sibiu county) for the third National Conference organized by the “Young Women in Ministry” network.

These days God has poured his grace over every detail, and, because we gave him the necessary room, the Spirit has spoken to each one of us – either because we needed encouragement from him, or admonishment in a certain area of our walk and ministry on this earth, or because we needed teaching and re-motivation.

We were expected to be surprised by God, but he far exceeded our expectations! The warm atmosphere, the surprises and gifts received, the openness of every attendant, the teachable spirit and the vulnerable air, the generosity of many of the attendants – all these have created an environment that was fit for the receiving of a healthy, practical and transforming teaching.

Our morning sessions were focused on discipleship, each one of us having the constant need of re-motivation and teaching in this area. We had two simultaneous seminars, in accordance with the experience of the participants – one that was offered to those who practice discipleship for a relatively short time, or are just willing to start living this command of Jesus, and the other geared towards those who practice discipleship for years and have questions, anxieties and internal turmoil regarding their ministry. God has powerfully spoken and, for sure, every attendant understood that it’s not about us, but about God, who is the source of every good thing that we are, say or do.

In the evenings, God has spoken through a simple, but dear messenger – Amy Ellenwood, who has been, along with her husband, a missionary for 11 years in the Czech Republic, with a partner organization, Josiah Venture. In our opening night, Amy has spoken about the obstacles in the way of intimacy with Jesus (the lack of prayer, idolatry, pride, legalism, lack of faith), and then, in the second night, God has spoken through Amy about what it means to live in constant intimacy with Jesus (John 15:5  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. KJV)

We have already saw the fruits of our time together, many of the participants have returned to their churches and have met their entire team for discussing the materials presented at the conference; some of them have started discipleship small groups, and many of us were motivated to change our rhythm of life to one that honors God.

We have also experienced numerous attacks from the enemy. For of the attendants didn’t make it to conference, because of a car crash, and now, Ilinca, one of the girls injured in the crash is in a rehabilitation program, because she can’t feel her legs. Her faith was strengthened, but let’s bring her healing and her parents’ salvation before God, who can do miracles even today!

Also, we have a electricity breakdown right before the start of the conference, but the attendants had a great spirit and, also, we had problems related to the housing. But God covered it all through his grace and every detail that didn’t work as planned became an opportunity to glorify God, for the way he straightened everything! It is a joy to serve such a a God!

A few insights from the participants:

I can’t thank God enough for the days we spent together at Selimbar…I am overwhelmed! It was much more that I hoped…even much more than I believed…I am very encouraged, thinking of you and the ministry that God is able to do in our lives. What do we have to do? To remain connected to the Vine…Certainly, I am overwhelmed and I am praising my Father….Laura (Arad/Bucharest).

After the time spent in the presence of the Father, together with you, I feel there is more clarity and intimacy with God in my heart. Laura (Bihor, Padurea Neagra)

It is not about me, but about him. This is how I would resume the conference. Everyone’s prayers have been felt and the grace has been pouring abundantly through the Word that became flesh. Someone said that we cried and learned, and learned and cried…God has been honored through our worship (we thank the girls who helped doing the worship through music and décor), through the teaching about the ministry of the Holy Spirit (of his warning that a delay in obedience is actually disobedience), through the discipleship seminaries, done at two levels – for beginners and for advanced, seminaries that helped defining the specific steps for starting a discipleship small group, with everything that has to happen there, the necessity to have a vision of the group and specific steps to fulfill it short term and medium term. We strengthened relationships, developed new ones, our time of intimacy with Jesus each night helped us discover the Father’s heart for each one of us, so that we could allow ourselves to be loved and to abandon in his arms, even though some of us didn’t have an earthly model for this. I am still connected to what happened there…in the Fathers’ arms. Corina (Arad)

For me, the conference was crushing, transforming and challenging. I understood it is not about me, but about Christ. I heard this before as a theoretical thought, but now I understood it with my heart. One of my frustrations regarding the small group deals with teaching…I assumed it will go smoothly, the girls will be transformed, if I just knew how to lead a discussion, then I assumed that if I would become more creative, choosing a more interesting subject, or a great study – this would solve the problem, but I understand now that it’s not about all these, but about what God can do through my weaknesses, I understood that I started to minister to my group from my own strengths, I understood that I have to talk more to my Father about the girls. Lately I began comparing myself to others, to look at what I am not able to do, thinking it’s all about me, but it’s not about me, but about him. I am the one who chooses – my glory, or his glory. Dana (Alba Iulia)

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