Before this spring, I knew about Velvet Ashes but not Connection Groups. One night, I stumbled across a link that led me to options to join a Connection Group. I stumbled, but God ordained! I live as the only expat in my village town in remote NW Tanzania. After 20 years of cross-cultural life, I have many connections into my local community here, as well as the broader network of those committed to me in this gospel partnership.
Living as a single, I know one of the important challenges for me is to not become too self-focused. It is really helpful to lift my eyes, not only to the Lord, but also to see, learn, share in what he is doing in the lives of fellow servants. So rather spontaneously, I saw a group and thought this would be a good opportunity to listen to, be encouraged by and be an encouragement to like-minded but as yet unknown women from all different places and life experiences.
Little did I know, we know, that not soon after, the world would be turned rather upside down in a global pandemic. Our Sovereign God had planned a connection of a group of women to walk through a season of life that was at the least unusual. At a time when the world seemed to shrink, the CG opened a window to see into the faith and lives of women who share the same purpose, but are uniquely created and called by our one Father.
Sometimes it felt a bit disconnected—it is not easy to just meet on line and share with a group of strangers. Yet the commitment of each to keep going was needed, particularly with rapid relocations and so much more. And uniquely at this time, there was also a ‘screen fatigue’ factor.
Having the discipline of regular connection times and topics that changed each week kept me engaged. Sometimes I saw the similarities of our lives, our struggles, our joys; sometimes I saw our differences of experience, locations and personalities. But this is what makes a connection group of Christian women work: we all share in that one common foundation, we are serving our God in places not our own, doing so because we believe it is what the Father would have us do.
When so much online can cause you to despair, be of questionable value, Connection Groups are a lovely, safe place to share. Perhaps the very nature that we are ‘like-minded strangers’ can give an even greater freedom to share some of those harder struggles that we can’t directly talk about with our co-workers and sending agencies.
For me, the value of CG was a conscious intent to look beyond myself and be allowed the privilege of sharing, if briefly, in the lives of a group of women whom I came to respect and honour as being fellow sojourners along the way. There is no expectation that we will be ‘friends for life’ – but for these few months of sharing, it is a privilege to get glimpses of who we are as women, wonderfully made by the Master Potter, the work we each do in service of Him, and seeing through different eyes, how great and faithful is our God.
Would you like to join with like-minded women in a small group? We have Connection Groups available for women of different backgrounds, ages and locations to come together to share over the next ten weeks. We also have groups with a specific focus, like singles, moms of young kiddos, those heading to the field, and those walking through re-entry. We know many of you have been stuck outside your host country because of the global situation, and we have a group just for you!
Registration for the Fall 2020 session of Connection Groups starts on Tuesday, September 1st at 6:00 PM Eastern! Head to our Connection Group page to see the groups available and learn more.