A Connection Group is a wonderful blessing from God. Ladies gather for encouragement, comfort, and prayer, fulfilling the command to build one another up. I am so thankful for the weeks I’ve been able to spend in three very different Connection Groups. Some of the groups have been focused on specific seasons, such as returning to my passport country, and now, preparing to transition back to a foreign country. I also loved the group I was in when each member was in a different stage of life.
Connection Groups are a God-given opportunity to connect with people you didn’t know before, who have been through similar situations, and can provide opportunities to prioritize building each other up.
I always look forward to a new season of Connection Groups, because God knows exactly who I need to meet. Sometimes I have certain expectations or thoughts about what I need and what I have to give. While it’s not wrong to have hopes and plans, sometimes they blind me to what God is graciously providing.
The first two groups I was in had six other ladies, and I remember being disappointed when my third one only had three. I shouldn’t have been, because I was able to get to know all three of the ladies in my group so much better. I need to remember, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). When I put my plans aside, what he has given is even better than I knew to ask for. In Connection Groups I grow and am stretched. I work hard to see and understand new ideas and perspectives on situations, both at home and abroad.
I have a supportive community in my home church, but many of them do not understand the particular struggles that come with living the Christian life in a foreign country. We all have trials in our walk, but some difficulties are unique to cross-cultural service. God has provided comfort to us in our trials, but one reason that is given is so that we can give others “the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4).
I once told a story in my group about a time that I made a huge mistake in communication with one of the leaders in my host country, and I was so encouraged by ways God had used mistakes in the lives of others. The ladies in my Connection Groups have generally been in similar places, and they can offer the beautiful wisdom that comes from experiencing God’s hand on us in our walk. When the trial is over, I can also look to see who God may be bringing into my life and whether I can provide some of the comfort God has given me.
I made wonderful friends when I lived abroad, but now we don’t get to connect as often as we would like. Connection Groups give me an opportunity to set aside other commitments and prioritize connection. Because the Facebook Live Chat groups meet weekly for a limited time, I can plan my days and weeks so I can be fully present. The more I’m able to focus during the meeting, the more I benefit. When my husband can’t take care of our daughter, I have even been able to participate in a Facebook group or video chat while nursing her at the same time. It leaves me without any excuses to not be there. It’s too easy for me to ignore my need to be sharpened by others. When I sign up, I’m making the choice to set aside time for the next several weeks, knowing that I will be able to help and be helped by the other women in my group.
I was especially thankful for the spring session of Connection Groups because no one knew when we signed up that so many normal Bible studies and gatherings would be canceled for a time because of the pandemic. I love knowing that my Connection Group is a safe place to share my thoughts and experiences, and to listen to the wisdom of other women on a weekly theme.
God can provide what you need through community!
How have you seen the Father connect you to the people you need for a specific season? Has He brought community to you in special ways through this year’s crazy events?