Meet Marelis Turro Campo! An International Sister from Cuba, Marelis was a guest of the Tennessee Disciples Women for the week before Quadrennial. Marelis speaks Spanish. Most of us speak English. And because of visa difficulties, she traveled alone.
So, our adventure in preparing for her visit began with a search for bilingual hosts and companions. And God provided Justina and the members of Iglesia Cristiana Discipulos de Cristo, Nashville; Sonia and the folk at Decatur-Trinity Christian Church, Memphis, Erica and Thomas at Vine Street Christian Church back in Nashville and Barbara from Central Christian Church, Murfreesboro. The conversations translated back and forth between mono-linguals would have been enough to share each other’s lives and customs. God planned for more.
Because the week had been filled with experiences of translated messages, the hour-long drive from Nashville to Beechgrove would be awkward between two women with limited vocabulary in each other’s language. It would be too hard to talk about current events, work challenges or family issues. So we grinned in our inability to say something meaningful. We listened and practiced new words to describe the sights we saw along the way. Then we acknowledged that somehow, the Spirit was moving between us – helping us know the soul of the other. It was in those moments of, “I don’t comprehend, but God is speaking,” that the words of her thank-you gift gave direction,
“Secase la hierba, marchitase la flor; más la palabra el Dios nuestro permanece para siempre.” Isaias 40:8
“The grass dries up; the flower withers, but our God’s word will exist forever.” Isaiah 40:8
Because we both understood what this scripture implied – that God’s words will always make the way clear – we were opened to the flurry of the days ahead.
The International Sisters Program provided a unique opportunity to spend time with nearly thirty women from China, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Indonesia, Mexico, Palestine, Republic of Congo, South Africa and Zimbabwe. This pre-QA event took us to The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, lunch at First Christian Church, Decatur, GA, an International Dinner hosted by Global Ministries, The Carter Center, and a southern-style lunch at Mary Mac’s Tea Room.
It was a special thrill for me to step into my role as Global Women Connecting Liaison to host GWC Vice President, Lydia Soko, Zimbabwe. There is nothing like the transition of an email-from-across-the-globe relationship to one of a grace-filled time building a friendship! Praise God!
The combination of serious and fun activities fueled the growing camaraderie. Once again I witnessed God’s unifying spirit at work as cultural and language barriers were overcome.
The International Disciples Women Ministries’ Quadrennial Assembly has been an event of training and renewal since its’ beginning in 1957. The 2014 theme, “I See You…” gave particular emphasis to the battle against human trafficking. Awareness of global participation and impact of all forms of human trafficking will be broadened over the next four years to address ways this injustice is growing in proportion to demand. See Breaking the Chains: Link by Link here.
Plenary and Worship sessions invited us to “see” each other through eyes of grace, eyes of compassion, a heart of justice, hands of joy – indeed, to see each other whole! These sessions were complimented by learning opportunities of special interest, and the artistic expressions of Masks for a Cause.
And Atlanta “saw us” and the conviction of Quadrennial-goers during the Walk Against Human Trafficking. A check for $5,986 was presented to youthSpark, an Atlanta-based agency serving exploited, abused and neglected youth.
It is true. God uses our weakness to open hearts…to speak the language of love. This is the word that will last forever.