This week, I made a final, definitive decision: I closed the doors on the women’s stewardship group–originally called Women of Vision–that began in the summer of 2016.
You may have read the posts I wrote about our fundraising to provide support to World Vision’s clean water fund and the mother and child health program. Our most recent project involved buying diapers for the Orlando Union Rescue Mission. In addition to a women’s clothing swap, we sold everything from books to patio furniture to acquire money we could then use in supporting ministries that show God’s love in tangible ways.
But at the tail end of 2016, after several fruitless email messages with the World Vision staff member who represents the Women of Vision program through their organization, I learned we could no longer officially be a Women of Vision chapter. Unbeknownst to me, when I geared up to start a Women of Vision group in Orlando, the entire program was undergoing a re-do. Little by little, I noticed the resources I’d counted on having available no longer appeared on their site–discussion questions and study guides we could use for content when we met together; stories; videos.
I began cobbling together my own devotion-type presentations on Scripture that addressed giving and generosity and caring for the needy. Since Jesus reportedly spoke more about money than heaven and hell combined in the New Testament, there is much to mine for study. Yet I hadn’t anticipated whipping up discussion topics and questions from scratch. Then I noticed that our Orlando Women of Vision group wasn’t listed on the Women of Vision site promoting groups around the country. I saw a few chapters from a few cities listed–but not ours.
Needless to say, this raised questions for me. Finally I spoke and emailed with the World Vision employee in the know. Since the program was being revamped, our little group wouldn’t actually qualify as a genuine Women of Vision entity any longer. New requirements for fundraising were to be set–either $10,000 per year or $10,000 per event, with 2 major events required per year. At the time of my conversations with this staff person, that hadn’t been settled. But clearly (to me), our group of 6 was not positioned to raise between 10 and 20 thousand dollars annually. Four of the 6 of us are missionaries already raising our own financial support. The idea of organizing lavish banquets or golf tournaments (or some other colossal event) to achieve this level of fundraising didn’t appeal to me.
So…we surrendered the Women of Vision name (as was required) and forged ahead. We continued to meet, to pray and talk and read God’s Word. We tentatively planned a fundraiser for last spring that we postponed due to lack of interest (and my family’s plans to go to Colorado). We bought diapers for the Rescue Mission, over a thousand of them. And then we spent the summer apart. When I returned, I contacted our small group to gauge interest. Three of the 6 of us needed to step out for various reasons–health or job travel or classes. That left 3, including me.
I talked with Jesus about this and told Him that I needed to see at least 6 women commit to our group in order to believe we had the momentum to move forward. I reached out to a handful of other women at this point, none of whom agreed to join us. The other 2 women remaining in our group weren’t able to recruit more individuals, either.
Then I had planned a meeting for the 2 remaining women plus myself for earlier in September–but Hurricane Irma changed our plans, to say the least. And then, finally, I believed the time had come–to lay down this one-time dream. I sent a message thanking the final 2 women–Pam and Eva–for their desire to honor God and serve others; I wrote about how thankful I was for how God had let us partner with Him in meaningful ways. Collectively, we raised around $1200 for Gospel-centered services. I’m exceedingly pleased that we as a somewhat diverse group of women–ethnically, in our marital status, even in our personal faiths–joined forces to do good work. And that work was fruitful.
I still believe God’s Spirit led me to pursue and embrace this dream, one I’d held for several years, that of gathering a group of like-minded women who would connect with God’s heart for the physically poor and work to help meet those needs. I believe God led me to lay down this dream, too. Some pursuits are just for a season.
I remain at peace, settled in my heart, confident in what God allowed us to accomplish. I also remain at peace about the necessary ending of our group. I’m not especially keen to pioneer anything new at this point.
For now I’m simply content to be still, allowing the Father to embrace me even as He leads me to lay down the dream He had once led me to embrace.
I learned through this experience that I’m not really a people gatherer; I am many things–passionate, communicative, detailed–but not a successful people gatherer. But I wasn’t afraid to try. And that’s another thing I’m not: afraid to try.