Monday, July 12, 2010
It was a good trip - a true Wisen adventure! Over the next few posts, I am going to share with you various aspects of the trip, and hopefully you will enjoy the narratives as much as the pictures...
I need to start by saying that my mom is quite the guide. She is a walking and talking encyclopedia and at 70, there's not even a hint of slowing down! She was a delight to travel with and I thank the Lord for such a loving, knowledgeable mother who eagerly joined me for this adventure. This picture was taken at the women's conference, the morning after we arrived in Israel.
The conference was held in a converted warehouse. We had to take a freight elevator up to the second floor, where the church gathers. The sanctuary was beautiful but paled in comparison to the precious women who served and prepared for the conference. When we arrived at about 8 a.m., they were busily setting up tables for registration, making coffee and organizing for the coming lunch.
Here are my daughters (middle two) and Hannah (right side) who came with us from Michigan. On the far left is Liel - she blessed us with leading worship throughout the conference. She also translated my power point and ran the sound from the back of the room for the day. She is a little Israeli doll who leaves for her military service in the next week in the Israeli Airforce. She just graduated high school and like most Israeli citizens, is heading into the military before she will attend the university.
I spoke in three sessions at the conference. The topic was "Idols of the Heart." The basic message that I brought the women was this: If the goal of the Christian walk is to please the Lord in all that we do, this should cause us to obey His Word, which produces fruit of the Spirit in our lives. When we do not experience that fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, etc.) but rather negative emotions (anger, frustration, depression, anxiousness, etc.), then we can most likely point to something else sitting on the throne of our heart, which then causes us to disobey the Word, resulting in negative emotions. We looked at the lives of sisters, Rachel and Leah, who revealed the true desire of their hearts through the names they gave their babies. Neither woman found peace or joy in life, because the desire to be loved or have a baby was greater than their desire to please the Lord. In the end, we looked at how we identify the idols in our hearts and then talked through the three step process of removing that idol, renewing our mind in scripture and then replacing that idol with a godly practice.
The women were very receptive to the message, despite the fact that there were two translators working overtime in the room - the gal on stage beside me was translating in Hebrew and another woman was translating into Russian through headsets. Apparently, most services in Israel are translated in all three languages, so the women were used to this and not bothered by what felt like mayhem to me!
After each session, I had women line up to ask good questions. These women are hungry for the Word and desire to submit to God's will for their lives. One woman was the pastor's wife of a rather large congregation. I found out later that she tends to be rather protective of the women in her church. When my friends put out a new book (translated from English usually), she has to read it first before she will allow the women in her congregation to get it. She sounds kind of like me!
Anyway, she had never attended the conference, being unsure of what exactly went on at one. She had decided to come this year and check it out for herself. She did not bring any of her women, but wanted to be able to give an informed recommendation for the next conference. After the second session she came to me and introduced herself. She said she was concerned about what would be taught that day, but was delighted to hear that it was God's Word which was being boldly proclaimed. She told me that next year she was planning on bringing the women from her church. I was thrilled that she desired truth to be taught, not fluff or feelings, and her reservations were the norm for the women there. They were not taking a day out of their lives to have their ears tickled. Rather, they wanted to know God. They wanted to hear from His Word. I loved their soberness and their questions - many were Berean-like and I loved that as well!
Please pray for the women of the church in Israel. They have the same struggles that we have here in America - unfaithful husbands, rebellious children, family illnesses, financial strain, etc. Of course not all are struggling with these biggies, (yes, there are faithful husbands in Israel!!), but I guess what I discovered is that life is pretty similar all over the world. The big advantage that we have is our resources that aid in our walk with the Lord. We have thousands and thousands of books, as well as counseling ministries in the church that can come alongside us and help us through life. These women are pretty isolated. The body of Christ is strong in Israel, though very small. Fellowship is truly sweet, and as I sat and watched the women pray together, for each other, I was moved at their steadfast hearts. Despite the difficulties, these women truly know the love of Christ and are generous with it - they work hard, give much and are constantly hungry for righteousness.
Finally, I wanted to post a picture of my daughter-in-law, Mary. She was our official photographer and on this first day, the day of the conference, I didn't grab the camera and get a picture of her. This is her on the airplane. She was a doll, as well. With my other little girls, she served lunch, cleaned up and snapped photos. All of my team worked hard that day, even though we were a bit foggy due to jet lag. At one point in the conference, I was on stage and my interpreter was thanking the planning committee before we began the final session. My eyes started to blur and I thought to myself, "I sure hope I don't doze off while she's talking!" Thankfully I didn't, but I have to tell you - jet lag stinks...
Next time I will post a bit about our time in Israel...thank you all for your prayers for safety. We never felt in danger and rested in the hands of God the whole time we were gone!