Area 7 & SEC Women's Day of Prayer
8th March 2018
The women began to trickle in shortly after 9:00 am on Sabbath 3 March. Road conditions were treacherous, temperatures below zero and it was uncertain how many would brave the snow to attend the Area 7 and South England Conference (SEC) Women's Day of Prayer, but by 10:00 am the auditorium was filled when the programme opened with a drama asking the question, "Who Am I?"
Teens, Rutendo and Lady Jo, wrestled with the demands of being transplanted from one culture to another and convincingly conveyed the distance between what their elders say and what they mean. Pastor Maslin Holness, took the role of the mid-lifer. In response to her query "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all", the answer came back, "Not you!" The SEC Women's Ministries director went on to demonstrate the challenges of a midlife crisis, including the many uses of a pair of tweezers in countering sprouting hair in unexpected places. Next, both compassion and humour rose to the surface as the complexities of old age, dementia and loneliness were dramatized.
During the divine service, licenced mental health counsellor, Yvonne Lopez, drew life lessons from the story of the woman with an issue of blood. First, that Jesus positioned Himself to give the woman access and secondly, the risk she took in placing her 'unclean' self in that crowd. Ms Lopez drew parallels with our situations and this woman who had nothing left to lose. The Lord's Prayer spoken by Ligia Buzac in Romanian and Intercessory prayer by Sharon Platt-McDonald, British Union Conference Women's Ministries director, emphasised the power available to us through prayer.
After lunch, Ms Lopez's topic was Depression. "I planned to take my life", one lady shared in the Q&A time. "I'd written a note, prepared everything; I just wanted to die." Instead she ended up in a psychiatric unit. She revealed how a church sister who visited her there asked her what she was doing in that stupid place. "Those three weeks in that so called 'stupid place'," she responded, "saved my life. I was able to get the care and treatment I needed during a terrible time in my life." Out of her testimony came this valuable piece of advice: when you plan to visit someone with depression or other mental health issues, think carefully about what you are going to say in advance. Further testimonies echoed the words of Kurt Carr's 'I Almost Let Go', which was presented by the Praise team.
"This is what we need", one young lady declared afterwards. "More people being honest about the things they are dealing with." Her words were passionate and heartfelt. "I'm a single parent and every time I come to church I just feel like people are judging me and waiting for me to make another mistake. I don't feel I can admit, I'm struggling. We young people need more older women like that auntie who shared her story, so we don't have to pretend that everything is fine when it is not."
The Area 7 Women's Ministries coordinator, Avery Davis, closed the programme after acknowledging everyone who contributed to the day and in particular those who stepped in at the eleventh hour to operate the PA and audio-visual equipment. This, all of this, is what happens When We Pray.