6 October 2014 | Rogaška Slatina, Slovenia [Sandra Golding, tedNEWS] “Come to the Spring” was the motto for the first Trans-European Division (TED) Women’s Conference held in Rogaška Slatina, Slovenia, from 24-28 September 2014. The conference brought together more than 200 women from 9 unions across the TED and also included attendees from Australia, Israel and the USA.
The Conference was the vision of Clair Sanches-Schutte, the TED Women’s Ministries Director, and was planned and executed with the Women’s Ministries Directors from the TED.
On the opening evening, there was a special stone ceremony, where the women wrote their names on stones which were placed in front of a special water feature and a prayer of dedication was made for each woman represented. We were privileged to have Raafat Kamal, the President of the TED, who gave the opening keynote address where he encouraged the women to be authentic Christians; to be women where people can see Jesus living in us and to be the women that God has called to share the gospel in these last days.
We were blessed to have two keynote speakers – Raquel Arrais, the Associate Director for Women’s Ministries at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church, and Debby Mayer from Australia, who is the founder of the Language of Flowers ministry. Each morning Raquel challenged the women to become the spiritual women that God has chosen us to be. All the ladies present were warmed by Raquel’s love, openness and vulnerability and the way that she broke scripture texts down into everyday aspects that women could relate to. Her illustration of Matthew 26:26 took us to another level. She said “that Christ took us (chose us as women), then He blessed us (with gifts and talents), then He broke us (trials and tribulations) and then He gave us (made us to reach out and minister to others)”. In the evening services, Debby used flowers and plants to illustrate God’s love and how He can use our brokenness to minister to other women who are going through something we have experienced. Debby, too, was also open and showed her vulnerability with the women. I believe that all present will never look at the Stuart pea and the eucalyptus tree in the same way again because they can now draw the spiritual connection between their lives and these plants.
The keynote speakers at the conference challenged the women to come to the spring; to taste the living water, Jesus Christ, and to move forward and upwards; to be the best that they can be and then reach back and bless others.
The women were inspired through the wonderful and informative workshops covering an array of topics and creativity. The workshops were led by different women from around the TED and one was led by Denise Hochstrasser, the WM Director for the Inter-European Division. Many times you could hear the laughter coming from the rooms and you could tell that the women were actively engaged and enjoying themselves.
‘Woman in the Frame’ was the dramatization of Eve, Lydia and the Woman at the Well, enacted by Elleni-jaye Anderson-Grey from the British Union Conference (BUC). Her intense depiction of the three women had the ladies in awe and drew them in, as if they were actually in the pages of the Bible.
The puppet ministry of the characters Eb and Flo, done by Annette Moore and Dexter Sanches, was greatly enjoyed by the group.
Throughout the conference musical items ranging from instrumentals, solos and groups were rendered with professionalism and inspiration. The praise team from Slovenia led out during the praise and worship times and even had the women up and dancing with a Jewish inspired song sung unto the Lord. The women’s choir that came together during the conference directed by Madelon Comvalius, WM Director at the Netherland Union Conference, took us to heaven, especially with their flash mob rendition of Total Praise during the worship service on Sabbath.
On Friday evening, the participants entered the auditorium to just the lights of seven candles burning listening to the praise and worship team music in the background. This made the bringing in of the Sabbath extra special. On the Saturday evening as the women were leaving the auditorium, they were treated to a surprise slice of a delicious ‘Sabbath Cake’ and a cup of tea!
The highlight of the conference for many of the ladies was the outreach programme that took place in Maribor, in conjunction with the members of the ‘Messy church team’ from Maribor. On the Sabbath morning more than 100 women went to Maribor to a square near the main shopping area and undertook a health expo led by Sharon Platt-McDonald, BUC WM Director, and Elsie Staple, the Health Ministries Director at the South England Conference, where 112 people were seen in 2 hours. Alongside of the health expo, there was face painting for children with 30 children walking away happy having had their faces changed! One lady said that the face painting and that type of outreach took her outside of her comfort zone and challenged her to take her ministry to another level. The women also gave away flowers and literature and Bible inspired colouring books and colouring pencils were given to the children. Debby Mayer made two special bouquets that were presented to one individual in hospital by women from the Netherlands and Raquel Arrais presented the other bouquet to a lady in the square. The a cappella group 4GIVEN from Maribor added another dimension to the outreach project with their melodious tones and their gospel inspired songs which had the people in the square captivated, smiling and singing.
Ladies, who did not participate in the outreach projects in Maribor, spent a wonderful time at the reflection garden. This was a time where the presence of God could be experienced through different activities that allowed spending ‘alone time with God’ and to strengthen their spiritual journey.
On the Sabbath afternoon two young boys Jan Mojzeš and Luka Relić, came all the way from Croatia to share their instrumental talents by playing the saxophone and the trumpet.
Clair Sanches-Schutte wanted all the ladies to leave an impact in that region and came up with the idea to leave donations to two worthy people in Rogaška Slatina. In consultation with the mayor of Rogaška Slatina, a young girl with disabilities was identified along with a teenage boy with the exceptional gift of playing the violin, who was from a disadvantaged background. The offering collected along with the profit from the market selling goods from different countries, reached in total of EUR 3,336.00 and GBP 221.00, which will be divided between the two beneficiaries.
Audrey Andersson, the Executive Secretary of the TED, gave the closing keynote address. She encouraged the women, that although they are leaving the spring, they now need to go away and encourage others to come to the spring. Whilst the closing programme was in process, Annette Moore painted a large canvass of the pictorial illustration of ‘coming to the spring’ that was painted in 30 minutes. The closing hours of the conference left all the ladies present united together in love and fellowship and the opportunity to cement relationships that had been developed throughout the conference. It was wonderful to see the different cultures and languages joined as one, praising the Lord as a group of women who had come to the spring to be revived. [tedNEWS]
tedNEWS Staff: Miroslav Pujic, director; Deana Stojkovic, editor
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