West-of-Ireland Women Host a Memorable Women's Ministries Retreat
11th April 2019
A Women's Ministries retreat was held at The Inn at Dromoland on 29-31 March 2019. The weekend in the comfortable hotel in County Clare was organised by Lilian Cooper, Women's Ministries leader of the Newmarket-on-Fergus church and was attended by fifty-five women from the Irish Mission, and a few friends from England.
"The seeds for the retreat were planted in November 2018 when women met in the same hotel for an afternoon tea, and now the plans had come to fruition," commented Lilian. "Our theme for the weekend was 'With Christ in Crisis', an appropriate theme for women who face times of intense difficulty and have to make important decisions. What better way of having a crisis when you have Christ in the middle of it!"
Guest speakers Abigale Mpufu and Sindile Mabhena travelled from England to minister to the women. The two women had very different presentation styles and this was remarked on during the official thank you speeches at the end of the event.
Ann McNally became tearful as she presented a thank you gift to Mrs Mpofu. She recalled her own journey into the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Derry/Londonderry. Mrs Mpofu’s ardent faith and spiritual maturity reminded her of the lady she met in the Derry church who had presented the message of Ellen White that attracted her to the Church and converted her from Catholicism.
Similarly, Joan Burch’s usual Irish sense of humour was on display when she thanked the younger miss Mabhena: "I thought I might not have enough energy to keep up with miss Mabhena’s enthusiasm, but after a good night’s sleep on Friday, I was ready for more, and I am so glad I kept listening."
Sindile’s Friday evening sermon was titled, 'The Inn at Dromoland.' She recalled Jesus' parable of a good Samaritan as recorded in Luke 10:25-37. The parable was told as a response to an expert in the Law who had asked Jesus (as a test because he felt he was doing all the right things) what he should do to inherit eternal life. Ms Mabhena spoke about how women are hurting because of different crises and how they ended up at the Inn at Dromoland for healing. It was a beautiful sermon which touched women who were in attendance as they learned about guiding their mouth and caring for one another-being innkeepers.
The women were up bright and early for morning mana the next morning at 6 am. Women had come to the retreat to spend time with God in prayer and thanksgiving. There were boxes at the front for prayer requests and women put in their petitions to God. Mrs Mpofu led the Sabbath school. She spoke about unity and maturity in the body of Christ as well as instructions for Christian living taken from Ephesians.
She outlined three positions that should be taken by Christians as stated by the apostle Paul in Ephesians: The first position in Christ is to sit (Eph 2:6-7). The second position is to walk with Christ (Eph 5:1-4). The third position is to stand. Standing up to the enemy is outlined in Ephesians 6:11; ‘Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.’ Mrs Mpofu stressed that the principle of Christ is based on the utter dependence on Christ, therefore, we must get connected to God and be imitators of God as dear children.
During the Sabbath Sermon it became clear why the theme song for the retreat was 'Jesus saviour, pilot me' (SDA Hymnal 551). Sindile Mabhena’s sermon was titled, 'Passenger, fasten your seatbelt.' She told the story of the author of the hymn, the late Mr Edward Hopper (1822-1888). This hymn was written especially for sailors in language they knew well —charts, compasses, and the absolute need for a competent pilot to guide their crafts over the tempestuous seas. Mr Hopper was a pastor of a church in New York harbour known as the 'Church of Sea and Land' where he ministered most effectively for the remaining years of his life to the many sailors who made their way to and from their ships. It was while ministering at his sailor’s mission that Edward Hopper wrote this the words, especially for the spiritual needs of these sea-faring men. He wrote it anonymously, as he did all of his works, and for some time no one ever knew that the pastor of the sailors was also the author of the sailor’s favourite hymn. “It is important for us Christians that we learn the lesson of this hymn,” said miss Mabhena, “that of placing our implicit confidence in the Pilot of our souls as He guides us through the tempestuous seas of life. And though there may be the storms and waves that at times almost seem to swamp us, we can be certain that our Lord is still in control and will lead us safely to our heavenly home.”
Women had time to interact. Some went swimming or for an afternoon walk. Others visited the Dromoland castle. It was a great time to get to know each other. Bongie Bhebhe from Scotland got a chance to catch up with old friends that she met 12 years ago in Dublin at a women’s retreat. Women were then treated to a 4-course dinner after being spiritually nourished they needed to be physically fed.
Sabbath evening was a time for testimonies. God gives each and every one of us a story so that we can testify. Women strengthened each other's faith by sharing how God has and is working in their lives. Sindile Mabhena had challenged all the women to minister to someone over the weekend and were given time to testify. All the glory was given to God the Almighty.
As goodbyes were said on Sunday, the women sang well-known childhood songs like; 'Preaching Jesus' (which many women have been singing as 'Pretty Jesus') and 'When he calls me, I will answer, I will be somewhere waiting for my name'.
"We were blessed to have three Christian friends who are not Adventist who attended the weekend," said Lilian Cooper. One of the guests, Caroline Chidyamatamba expressed that she felt blessed by attending the retreat. These Christian friends were presented with gift bags which included the book 'Steps to Christ' along with other goodies.
Lilian Cooper thanked everyone, especially Mrs Pfende who was involved with the planning of the retreat and has been praying for it since last year. Women returned home on mothers’ day revived.