By Joni Wilkinson, WMU Coordinator
“You will make known to me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Psalm 16:11
On October 3-4, 2014, fifty-nine ladies, representing seventeen Iowa Baptist churches from across the state, set aside time from their schedules to meet for a Friday and Saturday to draw close to God’s presence. The retreat was held at Hidden Acres Conference Center, Dayton, Iowa. The guest speaker was Becky Linn, Follow Hard Ministries.
Registration began Friday afternoon when ladies arrived, settled into their rooms, explore dthe camp, or helped with a service project making blankets and scarves out of fleece to be donated to the Friendship Center in Des Moines. After sharing an evening meal, the ladies gathered in the meeting area for worship, teaching, and a time of encouragement in small groups.
The evening session’s theme, “How sweet He is – the Satisfier of my Soul,” challenged the ladies to make God their delight. They first considered “who is my delight”? During a time of reflection and commitment, they placed their desires at the Lord’s feet. Each lady then learned steps to take to deepen her desire for the Lord. Breaking into smaller groups, the ladies discussed what they had learned from the session and prayed for one another.
The secondary theme of the retreat centered around chocolate, a delight of most women. After the evening session there were opportunities for fellowship and fun and chocolate…a chocolate fountain, s’mores outside around a bonfire, a paraffin hand spa treatment; others played games, visited the pool and hot tub, or simply enjoyed visiting with friends. Some ladies went to bed early – others stayed up to the wee hours in conversation.
“ASK and it shall be given to you, SEEK and you shall find, KNOCK and the door shall be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7, NASB
On Saturday morning, after a casual breakfast and fellowship, the group gathered for the second session of the retreat. The focus of the session was “How Sweet It Is – enJOYing God’s presence.” Becky shared insights into asking prayer (you know the will of the Lord. Ask in faith, and it will be given to you), seeking prayer (You don’t know the will of God on a certain matter. Seek until you find), and knocking prayer (you know the will of God on a certain matter, but there is a delay in receiving the answer). The women considered the difference between hearing conflicting voices and hearing God’s voice.
After the teaching session, ladies went on her own for a personal time with God where they meditated on scriptures and reflected on what God was saying to them. They then met back in their small encouragement groups for sharing and prayer. The morning session concluded when everyone came back together to share how God had spoken to their hearts and encouraged them through His word.
“Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves Me.” John 12:26
In the afternoon, there was opportunity for free time where some ladies explored the camp. About twelve women took a thrilling ride on a zip line.
Another group of ladies attended a teaching session on leadership. Using the acronym L-E-A-D, Becky talked about the key to leadership is in following hard after Christ:
L – Love the Lord and Listen to His voice.
E – Encourage and Equip Women
A – Acknowledge your Weakness and Christ’s Strength
D – Disciple and Determine to Give God Glory
Several women indicated that the retreat had been a real blessing to them and a help in their spiritual lives. One woman made a commitment to Christ at the retreat. All returned home to their families, churches and circumstances filled with new spiritual insights and better equipped to enjoy God’s presence and live for Christ.
A Women’s Conference is being planned for this Spring in Des Moines, Iowa. The dates will be April 10-12, 2015. The theme is “ONE: life. love. passion.” Check the website www.theoneconference.org for more information.