'UNFINISHED' - Missions Conference at Hope Church
Tuesday, February 9th
How easy it is to focus on only our daily lives. This small corner of the map that God has put us in. We may broadly say Northeast Ohio, but somedays (especially now during a pandemic) it may feel even smaller to just Brunswick or Medina or your neighborhood or (if you're like me) some days even just your house.
It is so helpful to have others lift our eyes and broaden our perspective.
This week as part of the Hope Church Missions Conference we had two missionary women join us to share their experiences and hearts. It was the first time that we hosted a 'hybrid' event with 23 ladies attending in person and 9 who joined from home via Zoom. This provided an opportunity for women to connect, while also allowing those who are most at-risk, unable to drive at night, or needed to be home to care for others to still participate.
First, we heard from Hazel who has been serving with her husband as missionaries in Japan for 36 years. The Japanese people have a practice to take broken vases and fix them to make something beautiful. The cracks will still be visible, but they'll be filled with gold decoration. Similarly, God can use our brokenness to make something beautiful. Hazel encouraged us to not hide, or be ashamed of our faults - but to give them over to be used for His glory. She shared three truths about broken people:
- Broken people recognize they need God.
- Broken people help broken people. Our experiences foster empathy.
- Broken people become tools of God's grace.
She challenged us to not waste our experiences, but to turn to God and allow Him to use our lives for His good.
Next, Stephenie shared with us about her experience in Southeast Asia. She showed pictures of their town and gave us a glimpse of their day-to-day lives. Along the way, her focus was on what it means to have a 'relational ministry'. She talked about how her children are such blessings to their missions work as it opens doors to other families in the community that are naturally drawn to children. She has been able to meet women through her daughter's school that she has been able to connect and cook with (which is a very important part of the local culture).
As she was thinking about ways to connect other women she thought about an interest she already had and decided to become trained to start teaching Zumba. With intentionality, they have been able to make it a safe place in the community that builds up and empowers women to treat each other with kindness and respect. Later, Stephenie was approached by a group of girls that wanted to improve their English and so they get together to watch movies and practice English.
All of these examples from her life remind us to look around us to see how we can intentionally connect with those around us. To see the skills and interests that God has given us and not simply enjoy them, but use them as means to build relationships. To invest in these relationships rooted in a heart to love others as Christ loves -- and in doing so provide them a glimpse of His heart.
A big thank you to both Hazel and Stephenie for being with us, and a thank you to all the ladies who participated. We hope you were encouraged to shift your focus up and outward.
Did you attend? What did you take away from the event? Feel free to share with us in the comments!
Until next time,
The Ladies of Hope Leadership Team