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What a weekend we had! The sun shone as we navigated our way past closed roads and gathered at the fabulous Devere Staverton hotel. The chocolate fountain flowed as guests arrived and settled into lovely bedrooms. Our welcome session was full of advice as well as looking at how much the average woman has to go to just to leave home for one weekend! Our first taste of the amazing buffet food followed, every meal was a feast! Then Lindsay Bruce, the new Coordinator of Activate stepped up and spoke on waiting for God, inspiring us and calling us to stand up and get involved in serving God- she is an amazing speaker!
Those who were awake enough then stayed up to watch “Sunshine on Leith” and join in the Proclaimers songs in their pyjamas.
Saturday morning began with Gill Stott explaining gently that our priority is to love and be loved by God. We then launched our “unlocking the Door’ book, and introduced our cute Keya figure. The book was well received throughout the weekend, and hundreds of copies were sold, ahead of the general release on sale next month. Then Sarah and Mandy set out the theme verse-
‘In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have, but do this with gentleness and respect.’
Sarah talked about Peter, who had fished all night and took strength from the encouragement of Jesus, who stepped into his boat and helped him be transformed. Mandy explained how much this verse had meant to her this year, and introduced her sister Julie to talk about how her faith has carried her though a tough time, and that we can offer to God even the fish bones and breadcrumbs of our lives. Seminars followed on with Su Ainsworth exhorting us to
“Search and Rescue” ,giving the confidence, the right tools and the desire to make the most of every opportunity to witness.
“Who are you and who is your everyone?” Mary Maclachlan asked us to consider whether God is calling us to take bigger steps for Him and see Him work powerfully through us to see Him bring His life to our ‘everyone’?
“Building self esteem” Healed people, heal people! Gill Stott then helped us to put away unhelpful mindsets about ourselves and God , and remember that we are fully accepted and highly esteemed by God.
Later, Fiona Castle reminded us to “Speak out with Gentleness”. Making sure that our lives and not just our words are infectious and attract people to the gospel. Rhiannon and Lee then led a seminar for those who are new to Activate and would like practical ideas on how to start conversations, set up events or a group and deepen relationships that lead to meaningful conversations, using the new edition of “Unlocking the Door” .
The two Activate directors then ran through some “Short Answers to Big Questions” Looking at the issues that people ask about faith, belief and God, suffering, creation, eternity.
After such a busy afternoon some took the opportunity to head to the beautiful spa or walk in the sunshine. Others headed to hear Rick Warren speak through a Dvd on ,’How to get through what you’re getting through.’ The final spot was with Lindsay, looking at our “Global Sisters”.
Philippa Hanna, the popular folk/rock singer joined us after a fabulous gala dinner on Saturday evening, straight from her tour with Lionel Richie and her gigs with Stuart Townend. We all loved listening to her amazing singing, poignant words, fantastic guitar playing and chat!
On Sunday morning Julia Crellin led us through a devotional time on the theme of ‘Always Be’. She took inspiration from Olympic Gold medalist Lizzy Yarnold, to explore what it means to operate from a place of peace.
After a proper breakfast, we enjoyed the ‘Easy Like Sunday Morning’ creative session, with butterfly holders, key designs, newspapers, napkin folding, card making, jewellry design, reading group inspiration, IT support and web registration. After some wonderful worship by Gary Briley and his friends , Michelle Tepper arrived and introduced her friend Tracey Trinita, a supermodel from Indonesia. Tracey’s story of finding faith and an acceptance of her identity inspired us all before Michelle stepped up and talked of only being able to speak out with hope if it is utterly rooted in Jesus. As we joined together to sing “Oceans” there was a sense of not wanting to leave the communal presence of support and encouragement, yet a feeling of being called to get back out and get on with the ministry that God has called each of us to do.
Be ready. Always. Share the hope. Talk about Jesus with love.