I can think of no better way to encourage the women of a church and spur them on to greater efforts in Mission and an Outreach in their own congregation than the conference I attend on the long 24th of May weekend. Held every 3 years, this year it carried the official name, “Burst Forth”.
With the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the conference brought together women from Canada as well as from many international guests from both mission field and other Presbyterian churches.
There were two keynote speakers. Dr Samantha Nutt, whose witness of the brutality of modern conflict inspired her to become founder and executive director of War Child Canada. In her two addresses to us (the first being an interview of her by the managing editor of the Presbyterian Record, Amy MacLachlan), she showed us a true picture of the pitfalls that aid in these situations can fall into. She helped us to see through the eyes of women in conflict zones and gave us realistic, lasting solutions. Showing us how to move beyond outdated notions of charity towards a more progressive, inclusive, and respectful worldview was a real eye opener. It helped me see how our own mission work at Central is on the right track in educating orphan girls in Lesotho and the respect of culture we try to show in our work with them.
The other keynote speaker was Kim Phuc Phan Thi, the famous “girl in the picture” of the Vietnam War, now grown and having found God’s grace to forgive those that dropped Napalm on her childhood village, Kim shared with us her journey from that picture to her work through her own organization, the Kim Phuc Foundation.
Whether we were lead in singing by John Bell who was capable teaching 3 part harmony in a matter of minutes, and as one fellow participant of his workshop ‘Singing with the World Church’ capable of “teaching a turnip to sing”, meeting old friends or finding new relatives, it was a packed weekend of learning to care for our world and each other in meaningful ways. In your spare time there was a book table, marketplace with items from third world countries, and a Spirituality Centre where one could create a journal, follow a finger labyrinth in prayer or examine photos that spoke volumes if you let them. The only free time was the end of the day, which found some of our group standing in the hotel pool continuing to discuss what we heard.
I find that what I heard and experienced in this one weekend is affecting what I do now. I think, “Oh Samantha talked about that” or “John touched on this subject.” After hearing about the plight of women around the world with less than I, and greater insecurity because of crimes in this world, I am certainly more content with what I have in my life.
Only time will tell if it changes my life, it certainly has changed my outlook for the present
If you’re a woman and want to know more about this adventure called “Burst Forth”, the six women that attended from Central Church will be hosting a potluck supper on June 23, 2014. All women welcome. We would love for you to come with questions.
I promise to tell you what women all over the world talk about no matter the culture after the men are no longer in hearing distance. Samantha told us and we proved it true.