||The beaches are just as in the pictures with
coconut palms, and the sea is vibrantly coloured in blues and greens.
Pineapple, sugar cane and macadamia nuts are all grown and harvested in
Waimea valley is a beautiful, quiet place much revered by the native
people as it is reputed to be the place where the first Polynesians
settled and began to grow crops. The vegetation there was magnificent.
Bougainvillea, hibiscus and plumeria are grown widely, everywhere,
plumeria being the flower of choice for the women to wear in their
hair. The people are lovely, very friendly and welcoming, and very
proud and protective of their homeland.
||Summer suns are glowing over land and sea;
Happy light is flowing, bountiful and free;
Everything rejoices in the mellow rays;
All earth's thousand voices swell the psalm of praise.
God's free mercy streameth over all the world,
And His banner gleameth, by His church unfurled;
Broad and deep and glorious, as the heavens above,
Shines in might victorious His eternal love.
For me this hymn of William W. How (1823-1897) perfectly sums up the
Women‘s Leadership Conference (and the Baptist World Alliance
Congress). The Women‘s Leadership Conference was held 23rd-27th July
2010, in the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, Honolulu, Hawaii. It was a
wonderful time of women of varying ages from all over the world coming
together, sharing with one another, worshipping God together, enjoying
being together in His presence learning from Him and each other of how
to be "In Step with the Spirit" which was the theme of the Conference.
executive committees of the seven continental unions arrived the day
previous to the conference and met in the Honolulu University Baptist
Church. We had a short time of worship before each group met
individually going over their respective parts in the programme and
spending time in prayer. The ladies of the church laid on a wonderful
lunch for us – the pineapple never tasted so good, it was like nectar.
On registering each participant received a specially made "Freeset" bag
containing the programme, pen, shell lei and information about Hawaii.
The Hawaiian hostess-es were dressed in beautiful coral coloured
traditional dresses and were extremely patient and helpful.
Conference opened with a sumptuous Aloha Dinner. What a colourful sight
it was – the tables beautifully decorated and many women wearing their
national dress. Garlands of shells draped over the chairs were placed
round our necks by our table hostess and each place setting had a
little woven basket containing chocolate macadamia nuts which were very
tasty. The food was local and prepared Hawaiian style – it truely was a
banquet. Once the meal was over we were entertained by the Wai‘alae
Church Hula Group who danced worshipfully for the gathering and were
very graceful and expressive in their movements. This group also
enhanced our worship on a few occasions throughout the conference. Both
Neville Callam (BWA General Secretary) and David Coffey (BWA out-going
President brought greetings and words of encouragement to the
gathering. The outgoing women‘s President, Dorothy Selebano, then gave
her address taking as her theme "Redeeming the Time‘ affirming that
this world is a hurting one and that there is no remedy apart from
Jesus Christ. Time is short, we must redeem it, by bringing Christ to
this sin-sick world, and as we do so we walk in step with the Spirit.
day began with prayer at 7.00am and continued through the day finishing
around 9.00 p.m. The days were full of praise and worship, Bible study,
various presentations with power point, creative art (mime, drama,
humour), reports, and prayer. Of course there was always time for
chatting and sharing on a personal level over mealtimes and coffee
breaks. Our praise was led by Debbie Kelsey, along with her daughter
Blyth, and four others. Debbie composed our theme song "In Step with
the Spirit". The diversity among us was rich and colourful as we
enjoyed different forms of worship and heard from the seven continental
unions of the ongoing work of the Kingdom of God around the world,
focussing mainly on poverty and abuse, with various speakers drawing
our attention to these issues and how they are being addressed. There
was much to praise God for and also much to bring to God in prayer.
Poverty and abuse might seem strange titles to focus on at a
conference, but these are real issues affecting the lives of many, many
people, the majority of whom are women and children, and these issues
also affect the church in a number of areas in the world so it was
only right that these issues be addressed so the conference
participants could be informed, could pray, and hopefully could be
motivated to action to help relieve some of the poverty and abuse.
variety of very able speakers addressed the Conference on poverty and
abuse and how it is being tackled by Christians around the world, our
own EBWU committee member Susie Mefford, who is part of the EBF
anti-trafficking work group, was one of the speakers. Each had a story
to tell which touched our hearts in such a way that there had to be a
response, and quiet time at the end of the sessions was given for that.
We heard of work amongst, women and children in homes, orphanages,
refuges, prisons etc. and of how through women sharing the love of God
in very practical ways, lives are being rescued, redeemed, healed and
restored. Didi Oprenova and Raquel Contreras both led Bible studies on
Sunday and Monday mornings respectively.
the Sunday afternoon each continental union had its own room, and
opportunity was given for the conference participants to visit a few of
these rooms to hear and see several aspects of the work being done in
each particular continent by Baptist women. The EBWU had Helle Lith
from IBTS spoke on some of the work in Eu-rope as a whole, Lauran
Bethell spoke on anti-trafficking and Margun Warem spoke on the change
in the Norwegian law as a result of campaigning against prostitution.
Our EBWU presentation involved a power-point presentation of the
various aspects of work being done throughout Europe while the
committee told the story of The Old Shoemaster, adapted from a short
story by Leo Tolstoy (The Old Shoemaker).
each Union completed their presentation their prayer partners came
forward and prayed for their particular Union. The prayers were
conducted in many different and innovative ways. Once the South West
Pacific Union had finished their presen-tation, Europe blessed that
Union with blessings and prayers from the Bible while "drops" of
blessing were "raining" down on all the SWP women who stood under a
large umbrella from which the "blessings" hung (see pictures) while
being blessed. Each woman took a "blessing" from the ribbons on the
spokes of the umbrella; this was her particular blessing from the women
Europe‘s prayer partner for the next five years is Latin America.
Contreras of Chile was elected to serve for the next five years as
President of the Women‘s Department and she will serve together with
Donna Groover, Secretary/Treasurer and Patsy Davis, Executive Director.
We commend them to your prayers. Raquel addressed the gathering as the
conference came to a close. She stands, not alone, with her stands all
those who have influenced her life, for our lives are impacted by
others. With her stands Jesus to enable her to serve. As women of God
we are called to serve others; we have to respond every day to the
needs presented to us. We respond with love; remember to pray for
others; remember to enjoy life; rejoice with a sincere transparent
heart. We don‘t know where the Lord will take us but it will be fine.
Work so our world will be a better place, work so that the Kingdom of
God will come, and the glory will be to Him.
20th BWA Congress followed the Leadership Conference from 28th July-1st
August and was held in the Hawaii Convention Centre, Honolulu, the
theme being "Hear the Spirit‘. This also was a very colourful event as
105 nations came together, bringing with them their language, culture,
costume, music, forms of worship, prayer requests, yet all blending
together in a symphony of praise to the Lord. Lots of people took part
in Scripture readings and prayer (often in their own language). There
were small group Bible studies every morning and a variety of topics to
choose from for the focus groups. During the Congress "Mission in
Action" distributed 20,000 meals for the hungry; prepared hygiene kits
for churches and ministries to distribute as they saw fit; sewed
lightweight sleeping bags for the homeless; prepared and served dinners
at two shelters engaging with those they served; sorted donated
clothes; painted a few rooms in the Institute for Human Services;
worked with a local church to clean up the neighbour-hood and engaged
in prayer on the streets, offering prayer cards and individual prayers
for those who wished prayed for. All practical ways of reaching out
with the love of God. John Upton of USA was elected as the new
President of BWA.
accomplished men and women addressed the Congress morning and evening,
each sharing powerful messages from the Word of God. Lots of little
stories were shared of people coming to faith and of how faith is
worked out in people‘s lives. God is at work in His Church and in the
Being in Hawaii we enjoyed the warm climate and beautiful scenery; also
the friendliness of the people who made us very welcome indeed. There
was not much free time, but some did manage to get into the sea, either
to just paddle, or swim. As we made our separate ways home, we had
wonderful memories to take back home with us as well as lessons
learned. Hopefully we were glowing not only from the heat of the
sunshine, but also from our time spent in the presence of the Lord. I‘d
like to think that everyone left having heard the Spirit and more
determined to live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, and be in step
with Him, for the glory of God our Saviour.
Mahalo Nui! (thank-you very much).