Is it difficult for you to wait? We’ve been waiting with the whole world this year: waiting for the end of the virus; waiting and hoping we won’t get the virus; waiting to get back to work, to school, to see loved ones; waiting to be released from restrictions. Some wait patiently; some become frustrated, overwhelmed, even distraught. But amazingly, some have been productive!
The women of the Lutheran Brethren Church of Nampa, Idaho live hours away from any other CLB church, but they still made plans to have a women’s retreat this October, despite the unknowns of COVID. They connected with Barbara Heggland, WMCLB Chairman, who connected them with other women who were willing to present several video sessions on Women of the Bible.
So, avoiding the unknowns of traveling a great distance in the time of COVID, nineteen women were able to meet at a nearby retreat center, keeping social distancing protocols. They received outlines, discussion guides, and access to the teaching of three speakers who never left their homes in New Jersey (Janet Spencer), Minnesota (Cheryl Olsen), and Alberta (Bethany Dittman)! They responded with thanks, concluding that “God worked in many ways this weekend renewing and refreshing our ladies.”
How about us? Varied circumstances affect our responses to waiting. Long ago, circumstances also varied for those awaiting the promised Messiah, and later, those waiting for his promised return. What should our response be as we wait?
Look at the response of people waiting for his first appearing. Mary humbly replied, “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38, ESV). Anna fasted and prayed in the temple; Simeon waited trusting; Isaiah prophesied, though he didn’t understand the full extent of his words; Jeremiah told God’s truths, though they threw him in a cistern, and burned his words. Later, Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:10-11).
So in our current circumstances, women are encouraging each other in our faith by connecting “outside the box.” A virtual prayer meeting happens Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. (eastern time), when mission concerns are lifted to our mighty Savior, with special prayer for local officials to grant approvals for a much-needed airstrip in Chad.
You can pray with women from different states, provinces, even overseas, led by Barbara Heggland and Jean Wilsdon, WMCLB co-directors. A women’s Bible study taught by former WMCLB chairman Janet Spencer is also streamed each Wednesday at Hillside LBC, Succasunna, New Jersey, and is available live or recorded. Other local Bible studies are being held on online platforms. A WMCLB Speakers Bureau List connects available speakers and leaders for group meetings or retreats.
Without large regional meetings, we can still donate to our projects by mail, or securely, through our website, www.WMCLB.org. Our Annual Report is even available through email or online! We continue to pray privately and together for last year’s Focus Project to Japanese students in Seattle, and this year’s Focus Project for an airstrip for missionaries in Africa.
God is still at work through us, as we wait and allow him to use us, teach us, expand our horizons, and bring his Word to more women who will join us in his heavenly home some day!
Cheryl Olsen is the Faith & Fellowship Correspondent for Women’s Ministries of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.