We just had our annual Collide ministry team retreat. This is a weekend that over the years we have grown to love as we gather the thirty some women made up of staff and volunteers who commit one year of their life (and some have committed years on end) to help pull off the work that God is doing though Collide. These are women who have raised their hand and said “God, use me.”
A lot of people talk about “the what and the how” of ministry. People think about what ministry needs to look like, how it should be structured, what the plans are, how to carry out the plans, what the schedule and the calendar look like, how many volunteers will we need, what will we teach, how will we get people excited, how will we get people there, what supplies will we need, who will do what and on and on.
So, you’d think at this retreat we would talk all weekend long about these kinds of things. But instead, we intentionally talked about the “Why?” Why do we do this ministry? We know that the “Why” has to drive the what and the how of what we do. Not only does the “Why” have to be the driving force of the what and the how of Collide, but the why will be the thing that will encourage us when we are down, fuel us when we are tired and call us to march on when we can’t see the fruit of our labor and we begin to question our efforts.
I wonder if the “Why” you do what you do, might be what you need to remind yourself of too, when you get tired and discouraged?
When people ask me why I have decided to give my life away to this Collide mission, I wholeheartedly know that I do it because I know what can happen when Jesus gets ahold of a woman.
I think of all the stories. If only I had time to tell them…
I think of a girl who was running into Jesus as we looked at His life in the New Testament in a Bible study in my living room years ago. As she started to see how He runs into and then heals wounded people, she begin to come out bravely with her wounds. Her dad had sexually molested her. It was their little secret. And she was now living out that sick and twisted way to be loved, in sick ways, in her own life, as a college student. It was in being given a place to be real about her pain and brokenness where she could invite Jesus to enter into those places, that she began to allow Him to heal her and call her into new and healthy ways of loving and being loved.
Jesus can radically transform our future when we allow Him to collide with our past.
I think of the woman who doesn’t frequent the church who showed up at a Collide event where we looked at Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and then saying “Take off your grave clothes!” We talked about a God who wants more for us than a pulse, but a God who wants us to get rid of our dead man’s clothes and begin to truly live! Hearing this about Jesus, she was curious, even magnetized, toward this idea of God. She signed up for a Next Step class about baggage in relationships that was taught by a local counselor. And then that woman showed up the next week at church, filling a pew with her husband and her kids.
When women get the chance to collide with Jesus for who He really is, they can’t help but want more.
I think of the woman who came up to me after a Collide event. She scurried through a pew to catch me on the other side. I introduced myself. “Hi, my name is Willow.” She didn’t answer and she wasn’t making eye contact. She couldn’t speak but then mustered out her name. Deeply emotional, this older woman said something struck her that day. She began to share her story. It told of a woman who used to be highly involved in the church and then she experienced the loss of her son due to suicide. She said the church treated her horribly. They couldn’t handle the topic. People either treated her like a charity case or told her that her son was in hell. That was when she stopped going to church. In recent years she faced the attempted suicide of another one of her adult kids. She said she told herself “It’s fine. I planned a funeral for my husband. I planned a funeral for my son. I can plan another one.” She was shocked by her own heart and how callused it had become to protect itself. But we gave this woman permission to be broken before God. We assured her that God could handle her pain. She said “I didn’t allow myself to feel and today I feel.” She said “Today marks the beginning of coming back to the church.”
Women are forever changed when they realize God can handle their pain.
I think of the girl I met in a coffee shop for a blind date who had walked out on her whole life, her husband, her kid, her job, her house. Her dad had died and she was blaming herself for the death of her alcoholic father because that’s what she had always done- took the responsibility for his addiction and all the choices that came with that. It was easier to blame herself for not saving him than it was to blame him for not getting help. She was stuck in grief, torture and self blame that was wreaking havoc on her life. That day in that coffee shop, a space was created for her to collide with Jesus. She walked out of there and back to her husband and her children. She went back to work and even walked back into a hopeful posture toward God.
When women have spaces where they can collide with Jesus, something radical and transformative can happen!
I think of the woman who heard the “Yes You” message that is in our latest Bible study book and that convinced her to say yes to a calling that she had not previously considered or boldly dared to believe was possible for her own life. She collided with Jesus and saw that He can use anyone to do amazing things and now she is saying Yes you to God, running a local non-profit that is impacting lives every day!
Colliding with Jesus brings about women’s destined purpose!
I think of the two women who walked up to me after preaching recently. They stood there, one doing the talking. The chatty one had an injured arm and the other woman sat back quietly, almost unsure of what it might look like to approach a preacher chick and ask for prayer. We sat down. The injured woman said “I had to come today. I came to Collide last year and I have to tell you that it saved my life.” She was previously a nurse, but when she got injured, she lost her job. She was single and began to become hopeless. She couldn’t fathom why God would allow this. She felt like she was doing His will, doing good things at the hospital, and now what? She started to get to a place where life didn’t feel worth living. Then her friend found out she had cancer; the one who sat there quietly, saying little. The cancer had metastasized throughout her body. This single mom has a high probability of not making it. So the injured nurse, as she began to collide with Jesus and look at her circumstances through God’s lense, began to see how God was using her injury and suffering to create enough margin in her life so that she could walk her friend into eternity.
I’ll tell you what, when a woman who needed her own rescue comes alongside a mom who has cancer and is coming to the end of her life, and they share their story of how colliding with Jesus is saving their life and their death… that is why I do what I do.
Here is why we do what we do around here at Collide:
When a woman collides with Jesus, she will never be the same.
I’m not the same.
You’re not the same.
She will never be the same.
As we kick start the ministry year this fall and look ahead, we believe wholeheartedly, she will not be the same. Your neighbor will not be the same. Your coworker will not be the same. The woman with all the skeletons in her closet, will not be the same. The girl who can’t forgive herself, will not be the same. The mom who is on the verge of giving up, will not be the same. The atheist who fends off Jesus like the plague, will not be the same. The chick who feels purposeless will not be the same. The teen who battles an eating disorder, will not be the same. The wife who is about to leave her family, will not be the same.
She will not be the same.
Because when Jesus Christ gets ahold of a woman, He transforms her in ways that move her, unstick her, forgive her, heal her, guide her, strengthen her and inspire her. She will not be the same.
That is why we do what we do.