The peace that passes all understanding. That’s what I felt after meeting Darla for the first time.
On May 15, 2020, God made it clear to me that it was time to obey what He had shown me 18 months earlier: start a non-profit women’s ministry organization in the Salem area.
Arise Women’s Ministry. I keep reminding myself it is a real calling and one day will be a real organization.
On May 24, while I was asking God how to proceed, He prompted me that I needed to share publicly about Arise Women’s Ministry. While I was self-conscious about sharing when nothing had “come together” yet for the ministry, I strongly believed that something powerful (and helpful) would come out of me sharing a post about Arise.
Just two days after sharing my blog post, Darla texted me asking if I would like to get coffee and talk about the ministry. I had never met Darla in person. Her family had recently moved from California to Salem, Oregon, and they had found our church online prior to their move. We were already Facebook friends when she texted me about getting together. I looked forward to the meeting with hope and curiosity. I prayed that God would meet us there and give me direction about Arise.
Here’s what I learned when we met: she has a deep commitment to Jesus. She has experience leading women’s Bible studies at her church and lifelong experience attending church in a couple of different Christian denominations. She is open to God’s leading about where to get involved in Women’s ministry after moving to Salem. Her heart was stirred by my post about Arise because of how evident it was that God spoke to me and told me to do this.
We talked at length about the value of keeping Arise Women’s Ministry non-denominational. We talked about creating a statement of faith that holds to the essential truths of the gospel of who Jesus is and how He wants to be in a relationship with each person He created.
I learned a lot from her in just one coffee date. And the most exciting part is that she feels compelled to help me lead Arise Women’s Ministry. My heart was awed by the belief that God brought us together in His perfect timing.
She suggested that we get Arise going by starting a Bible study for just those of us that are going to be involved in leading. I loved that idea! First of all, I miss being part of a women’s Bible study. My faith grows powerfully when I’m participating in a structured study. I also miss the sisterhood that is created when meeting with other women, opening up about our struggles and triumphs. Second, I was beyond thrilled at the thought of my small team meeting to help me process and brainstorm and pray about how to proceed with Arise. I was filled with hope and expectation. I knew God would start revealing next steps if we met together in faith to seek His will for Arise.
I told the other two members of my team about Darla and asked them about meeting for Bible study. They both were excited and prayed about it and considered the time commitment the Bible study would involve. And then they agreed.
My Jamie. Whom I met because all three of her daughters were in my preschool class and then I invited her to Bible study. This girl has my heart. I’m actually starting to cry right now because of my tenderness for her. She's such a sweet friend! Seeing her love for Jesus grow over the years is one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever witnessed. And I had the privilege of baptizing her a few years ago. She actually came to my mind the very first time God put this thought in my head: “If there’s no Christian women’s ministry organization in this area, you should start one.” I pictured Jamie there, helping me. And now it's happening.
She created this beautiful logo:
I can’t wait to see how God uses her gifts in this ministry! Her love and support has already done wonders for me in helping me to follow through with this calling.
And then my Kristi. The one I met two years ago by “chance,” (which was in fact not chance but absolutely God), at a women’s event in Salem. We ended up kneeling together in a crowd of women and she prayed for me and then I prayed for her too, and before the night was over I gave her my contact information because I so strongly believed it was not a coincidence that we met. God brought us together that night. She has gifts in building relationships with women to disciple them for the Lord and to guide them through life. She has excellent leadership skills. And she has a heart that is surrendered to the Lord. It’s no mistake that God brought us together in His perfect timing to not only bless and encourage and pray for one another, but to be part of Arise Women’s Ministry together.
You guys, I just realized I’m smiling as I write this. God is so cool! He knows exactly what He’s doing and He has perfect timing. He weaves our lives together masterfully and we are unaware of all the ways He is working things together until He chooses to reveal His plans!
If you don’t know this God I'm talking about yet, ask Him today to come into your life and make Himself known to you. You are missing out, dear one. Open your heart and invite Him in! He has such marvelous things in store for you!
So, back to our first meeting. Before I met Darla I had already been telling Kristi and Jamie about one another and they had been looking forward to meeting each other at some point. And now God brought Darla to the team. Darla offered to host our meetings at her house. I prayed about which Bible study we could begin with and immediately found Trustworthy by Lysa Terkeurst. I used some money I had been given for the ministry to purchase the leader kit. And we were ready! I prayed expectantly that God would show up and knit our hearts together in this calling.
My good friend Claude at work told me that he had a dream about my women’s ministry. He said he dreamed that once I began meeting with the other women, God would show us what to do next. My heart leapt at his words. I told him I believed that too!
And so, Jamie, Kristi, Darla and I had our first meeting two weeks ago. I felt our connection to the Lord and to the calling of Arise Women’s Ministry. It blessed me all the way down to my toes to see that I am not alone trying to figure out how to follow God in this. We talked and brainstormed and committed to pray about God’s next steps. We said we would be watching for God to leave little breadcrumbs for us to follow His trail!
We also dove into our Bible study about trusting God and not wanting our own plans and our own timing above wanting God’s perfect will. I was convicted on the very subject of Arise Women’s Ministry. I sometimes think I have the best plan and the best timing in mind for this ministry and I don’t know why God is moving so slowly. This Bible study is so good for me! God is always in control, and He always knows best, and I will be a more peaceful woman if I just let Him run things.
This is my Arise Women’s Ministry Team.
I cannot look at this picture without grinning. Just simple women coming together, our hearts filled with precious faith that God wants to use us to change our community for Him.
God knows there are women in our area who desperately need both a closeness with Jesus and a sisterhood of support. God is offering me and my team the opportunity to be part of that ministry. I’m so eager to see how it all continues to unfold! I get teary when I wonder who the women are that God wants to bless through Arise Women’s Ministry.
This first Bible study is just for the leadership team, but we think our next step after this might be to open up a Bible study to local women we know. We are praying for God's leading on that.
If you are a praying person, please pray for God to reveal His next steps to us! Thank you so much, friends and readers and fellow followers of Jesus!
“For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD; I sing for joy at what your hands have done. How great are your works, LORD, how profound your thoughts!”