I could see it in their faces and hear it in their voices – passion and determination! Here were six women excited about what God is doing and passionate to find significant ways to accomplish a vision that God has given them. I heard their determination as they talked with Keith and me about a burning desire God has put within them to ignite other laywomen, just like themselves, to make a difference in their circles of influence. Our discussion centered on how what God has put on their hearts could be used by the Lord to see the vision of healthy congregations within Canada and beyond being fulfilled in creative and diverse ways as women catch God’s vision for them.
This movement, called IGNITE, is in its infant stage but these women are listening and dreaming about what God may be asking them to do. Our conversation reminded me of Paul’s words to Timothy « to fan into flame the gift that had been given him. »
The « embers » that they want to ignite are to not only inspire others, but to also encourage, motivate and equip women to find out what God wants them to do and « fan it into flame ». They are not expecting women to come to them. They are hoping to start by holding regional meetings within Ontario and Quebec where women from several local churches can gather to get to know one another and for teaching and inspiration and see where it goes from there.
What they have in mind is not a « one-size fits all » approach. In fact, in their first meeting in the Kingston area, where women attended from 20 area congregations, they talked about different personality styles, spiritual gifts and differing communication styles. Then the women who attended were encouraged to celebrate how God had uniquely made them and return to their churches to serve Him within that framework.
Their motto « start with what you have » was beautifully illustrated in that initial gathering as Karen shared a vision God gave her to start a simple Bible study in the small community of Odessa for women who do not attend church.
She was introduced to the Free Methodist pastor’s wife in the community and together these two women along with a few others started a Bible Study. With her interest in art, Karen (along with the help of others) also established a storefront art studio in the community. This has provided a natural place for fostering relationships as people with a common interest drop in for light refreshments and conversation.
God has used these women in a miraculous way and the ministry has mushroomed among other things to three Bible studies for women, a study for children and one for men.
Commitments and recommitments to Christ have been the result and opportunities for ministries demonstrating « practical Christianity » continue to grow.
IGNITE wants to encourage and facilitate an environment (in regional meetings and through the internet) where other women can build relationships and share their stories of how God is calling them to make a difference.
IGNITE has some other ideas too. They want to find meaningful ways to encourage pastor’s wives and provide a safe place for rest and retreat. They are thinking about ways to encourage women within our churches who are newcomers to Canada and to partner with them to find ways to minister to those in their circles of influence.
They’d love to help build a network of women across Canada that spurs one another on with stories of God at work blessing an ever increasing diversity of ministries ignited by God’s spirit. Another very practical idea they have is to develop a database of speakers and musicians that could be available to local congregations and women’s retreats.
I admire these women and I love their servant attitudes. They don’t know where God is going to take this ministry yet but they are living their motto « start with what you have ».
They aren’t about creating another administrative structure. No, it’s about igniting a movement to inspire one another to live out the passion God puts within each of us. I can get excited about that!
written by Donna Elford