As a volunteer who went to Dubai, UAE to serve 80 global workers at a Thrive retreat, I am back home with a full heart to share some things I observed about the women I met. You’ve heard me talk about Thive before. I went to Tanzania in 2013 on one of these retreats for women serving in Africa. (You can learn more about Thrive from my blog here as well). Ministering to women in Dubai was somewhat different since the Mideast is so unique. So many of these women were so incredibly commited to the hard places and hard people that they live among and want to reach out to. Many of these women were young moms who were raising their families in a land of sand and grey buildings… sacrificing not only green spaces and modern conveniences, but friends and fellowship.
The first evening I met my small group of women and I soon realized that they work within the stress of young families and traveling husbands.That may seem common in the suburbs, but remember they live with few supportive friends, hostile neighborhoods, abusive social practices, and many strict cultural restraints on women. Some had seen co-workers killed. Yet in the midst of this these women understand a calling from God to love and reach their neighbors with the good news.
Over the many years that I have personally observed those going to serve overseas, I am more optomistic and impressed by this generation and their desire to work in difficult places for the sake of bringing God’s love than ever. It is very difficult in their world to step out and create a homebase for their families while trying to serve the needs of those hurting and in need of hope in such bleak circumstances. In my group there were two Physicians Assistants, a nurse practitioner, a family doing translation, church planters and they were all moms with little kids. One had adopted two of her Ugandan neighbors’ orphaned children. These women became my new heros.
Besides Bible messages, small group processing, singing in meaningful worship, and precious time spent in prayer, the women also had the option to make various kinds of appointments. Some options were counseling with a professional, getting a massage, a haircut, a pedicure (by a non-professional like me), a health consultation with a nurse, or even to have their “colors” done. The troup of volunteers served for long hours each day. Each appointment ended with prayer. Our evenings were filled with laughter telling stories and playing games. One game was called “Taste of Home”, which involved a white elephant gift exchange of things that global workers crave and cannot find in their countries. The fights over Cheezits and marshmallows were hilarious.
I will add that as the new chairman of the Board of Directors of Thrive Ministries, I am proud of the effectiveness of this ministry in providing retreats that create a safe place for global women to come and be renewed. Our desire is to serve their needs and keep them doing what they are doing in their roles in the “great commission”. During the days together, I watched God meet their unique needs. The burdens they were carrying seemed to lighten as they were shared and were surrendered to Jesus in new ways.
I enjoyed being a part of the 30 volunteers who poured out a formidable gift of love and attention on these servants who deserved it so much. It was my great privilege to meet these women and pray for their needs.
You may want to consider serving these global women on one of the 4 annual retreats…encouraging and empowering them and being their advocate. Check out the opportunities on the Thrive webpage.