“Women walking together in faith“ is such a fitting theme as I observe life around me this Easter season. The “walking together” part, which carries echoes of the two disciples sharing concerns on the road to Emmaus, draws me in and certainly includes upholding our sisters in prayer, particularly during challenging times. On so many occasions people I know have needed prayer, and the call went out for church friends and family to join together in prayer. Significant answers resulted.
Recently, a prayer regarding a broken marital relationship was answered the very next day. God is so good.
That’s not to say prayers must be answered quickly or in the way we want them answered, but the way in which God answered this one was encouraging to me. God is also quite creative in answering our prayers in ways we can’t even imagine. So I share these words to stress the importance of women supporting each other on their faith journey, especially through prayer, because it is vital to our well-being.
The local church is one of the main ways for women to congregate and support each other. This happens on a weekly basis as we gather for worship on Sundays, a chance to connect with each other. And when we ask “How are you?” let’s let that be heartfelt and allow time for an honest answer. For the young women, just knowing there are others experiencing life similarly is encouraging and helps them to “just keep swimming,” so to speak. For the older women experiencing loss or serious health challenges, prayer support is crucial on their journey.
It’s comforting to share our stories and know that others resonate through similar experiences. It reminds us that we are not alone in our journey and that we can draw strength from the mainstays of our Anabaptist faith: Jesus is the centre of our faith; community is the centre of our lives; reconciliation is the centre of our work.
Another aspect of walking together in faith is speaking into each other’s lives. This often happens in church settings, where women gather in small groups for common purposes, such as Bible and book studies, card-making and quilting, coffee chats, and moms-and-tots gatherings. As relationships build to a depth that allows for deep personal connection, the result can be faith sisters who are able to offer support during difficult times by sharing wisdom and advice, and especially praying for each other.
Preparing and serving meals for church functions and funerals—perhaps not as common these days as in the past—is another way women work together in the life of the church. Service is our faith evidenced, and it’s easier and more fun done together with others. Camaraderie is built when working towards a common goal.
In addition, our verbal and physical expressions of support are often enhanced at wider social gatherings such as the annual MC B.C. gatherings for Women’s Day on May 4, and the annual retreat from Oct. 18 to 20 this year.
Also this year, there’s the added bonus of hosting Mennonite Women Canada’s annual meeting, in Abbotsford, on June 30. These events are opportunities for women to spend time together, relax and get away from our busy day-to-day lives, as well as to be resourced and encouraged by keynote speakers.
As we move forward through our lives, let us, like the Emmaus disciples, be receptive and open to recognizing when God provides new opportunities for us as we enter each day, and let us continue walking together in faith.
Janette Thiessen is Mennonite Church B.C.’s office administrator and MW Canada’s B.C. representative.