A sisterhood is defined as a community of women linked by a common interest or religion. I know many churches call their women’s ministries a “sisterhood” but I have never heard of a group of women from seven different churches form a Sisterhood that crossed all denominational lines, yet that is exactly what happened on the island of Barbuda during our BFM Barbuda Women’s Conference.
The announcement of the BFM Barbuda Women’s Conference was made at all seven churches the Sunday before our Thursday event. I was gingerly told to not get my hopes up, that the most I could hope for was 10 maybe 15 women. That perplexed me because I knew that over 500 people had returned home to the island of Barbuda after hurricane Irma. So I asked, "How can that be?" I was told again, they probably just won't come. Being my persistent self, I said, "So let's say they WOULD come, what is the most that I could hope for?" The answer given was with timid reluctancy and a questionable tone, "Maybe thirty?" So with bold confidence and a positive tone I said, "Great! We will cater lunch for 40!"
And they came, and came and came until I became worried we would not have enough food to feed them! Oh me of little faith! It was said they wouldn't come and Jesus brought them. So of course, just like the 5000 He would feed them too, and He did!
The healing work Jesus did among the women during the conference was so amazing and beautiful to watch transpire. I will never forget it.
Shortly after the conference began I felt the Lord prompting me to drastically change our plans for the day to His plan. "Let them talk, listen to them and I will lead you..." At that, I came down from the pulpit and all together we rearranged the sanctuary to form a large circle. I gave the ladies no guidelines, I just asked them to share whatever was on their hearts.
For the first hour we listened to heart-wrenching stories from mothers and grandmothers of what it was like to live through hurricane Irma that terrifying night. We hung on their every word; each story ripped through our hearts and staggered our minds. We couldn't begin to imagine the fear that filled each child, parent and grandparent as they looked at each other for reassurance that they wouldn’t die. At one point I interjected and asked, "Have any of you had the opportunity since September 5th to sit together and tell each other your stories?" The answer was a unified, "No."
I knew the Lord was at work but I certainly didn't see what was about to happen. A lovely older wise woman took a bold step and began to speak. "Irma should have brought the people of Barbuda together but instead we are more divided like never before. Neighbors are not being neighborly, churches aren't uniting to help all the people or each other. Cars are all mashup and people have to walk, but those with cars don't stop to give a ride. It shouldn’t be like this!"
At first you could have heard a pin drop, but then one gave a head nod of agreement and then another. Then one sat upright and said AMEN and another said THAT'S RIGHT and another and another and another...
When this lovely wise woman finished speaking, a beautiful young lady spoke up and said, "Please forgive me, I'm guilty of this." And went on to speak on behalf of the youth and young adults. Following her lead another took the floor also asked her sisters to forgive her and so it went around the circle. We all watched and witnessed in awestruck wonder the healing power of forgiveness flowing through our new formed Barbuda Sisterhood.
Our conference ended perfectly by the BFM Mission Team of eight gathering up our Barbuda sisters and forming a circle around them. We prayed over them corporately for the specific needs they shared with us. Then it was time for our tearful goodbyes and (Lord willing) our sincere promise to return!
Now we must pray and do all that we can to keep the Barbuda Sisterhood alive and thriving. My Barbuda sisters who have been through so much need our prayers as they journey down the path of rebuilding their lives.
A very special thank you to Victoria (a BFM Board Member) and the six ladies of Belle & Sparrows (Lynde, Tiffany, Lori, Lisa, Shay and Kim). You seven amazing Godly women who made up the BFM Team this trip are shining examples of what the Apostle Paul means when he says in Romans 10:13-14 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” You have answered the call and beautifully shared Jesus with my people of Antigua & Barbuda and I am forever grateful!
Joyfully Serving Jesus,