What Is Your Calling? My Divine Experience
On the weekend, I attended a women’s conference at a local church. But don’t assume this is some small beans conference just because it’s situated in a town of 239 people. I’m not even joking. The church is located in the cute little countryside of Bloomingdale, Ontario. I live in the city next to it, which has a surrounding population of approximately 500,000 so I imagine that most people who attend this church don’t actually live directly in the town itself. I deduced this by the fact that the church was large enough to hold close to 1000 people inside, and I would say during the conference that close to this number of women were there. Even if it was only 500 women, that is still a pretty generous size. Koinonia Church hosts the Divine Women’s Conference every year and according to a few ladies I met, this was their 13th year of putting on the conference. The actual church has been around for just over 30 years so the conference has been part of their history for almost half of their existence. This has no doubt given them time and experience to really perfect the art of a conference, and I would argue they absolutely nailed it this year.
When I walked in, I was greeted by friendly door staff who ushered me in. Later I found out it was actually a couple of the church pastors who were dressed up in their finest formal wear. Very classy! Then upon registering, I got my seat assignment. Most people may scoff at being assigned seating for a conference, but I found this to be a really great way to get to know the people around you. I attended the conference by myself not knowing a single soul. (Side note: a good friend told me about the conference, but unfortunately could not attend due to a previous engagement). By the end of the weekend, the lady whom I was seated next to became like a second mom to me. I found out she had a daughter my age with the same aged kids. We also bonded over our achy backs (mine’s from breastfeeding; hers from climbing Mt. Kilimanajaro – how awesome is that?) and shared our favorite remedies for pain relief.
The beautiful music we heard played by the live band was enough to warrant paying the modest registration fee, but the speakers and workshops were the main show. They offered a wide variety of workshops and speaker profiles that regardless of stage and season of life you’re in, the conference was applicable for women of all ages. There were also many brave and beautiful women who shared their testimonies including the story of one woman who came through some really hard times after being raped during her teen years. The brokenness she experienced through her adolescence well into her twenties caused her to make poor choices leading her into drug trafficking. She ended up serving time in prison and found God during that period of her life. She now serves women in her local jails by offering counselling and support. What a beautiful story of redemption.
The theme of the conference was “Called”, so naturally many of the speakers discussed the topic of “callings in life” and “what we are called to do”. Of course, this is not an easy topic to deliver to a diverse group of women who may have various callings. In fact, every single woman’s calling is unique and special to them. Most of the speakers shared their own stories of what they are each being called to do and how they discovered that calling. I loved the honesty of each speaker. Ellen Graf-Martin who was one of the speakers said she desired a “big, impressive calling from God”. She wanted to be sent out to an exotic country to minister to children who had never heard of Him. But God had other plans for her. Instead, she was called out to live in small cities in America and then finally landed in one of the smallest towns in Ontario (Elmira) to open a Marketing and PR firm that serves many wonderful ministries and organizations. It may not seem “exotic” but it’s exactly where God would have her. Adwoa Badoe was another speaker who immigrated to Canada from Ghana where she was a medical doctor. In Canada, God called her away from medicine to a career in literature. She became a children’s author and musician spreading her story of faith through storytelling and music. On the second day of the conference, a diverse panel of women from a variety of ages and backgrounds including a high school senior to a mother of six to a university professor shared how God was calling them in their current seasons of life. The common theme between all these women was that they had not always known or expected to be where they were in their lives, however they were living faithfully and joyfully in their circumstances because it was all God-given. That was probably my main takeaway: it doesn’t really matter where it is we have been called, it only matters who is calling us, and whether we are heeding that call.
The list really does go on as to how inspiring and wisdom-filled the speakers and discussions were. The workshop I attended on the second day was called “Created & Called With A Purpose” which gave some good food for thought on the gifts I have been given. One of the questions posed to me asked me to name things I was good at. I always feel a bit sheepish answering questions like this, but something one of the speakers said during the weekend really hit home for me, “when we don’t think we have any gifts or talents, we’re robbing the kingdom” which I couldn’t agree with more. Whether you believe in a higher power or not, I truly believe that God made each and every one of us with unique talents and abilities to serve others with. No mistakes were made. Thus, for us to deny we have any special talents or gifts is to deny this great truth. So I did name a few things:
- I wrote that I am good communicator and public speaker (I used to be an intercultural communications speaker before my mom-ing days).
- I am good at encouraging others. I love to be a cheerleader for people, especially people who don’t recognize their own talents!
- I am good at writing honest stories to inspire others. I often find that being honest with my mistakes and experiences can be a source of inspiration for others who may also be struggling.
We were also asked to name one or two core values that identifies what we most want to be about. I wrote down: humility and faith. I don’t think I am always humble or faithful, but those are two values I highly cherish seeing in others and I feel that I am at my best when I am displaying those two traits. Nothing makes me feel more grounded than when I am humble and strong in my faith.
I know there is so much more to unpack and continue learning from everything I heard at the conference, as well as what I felt God stirring in me while I was there, but I know those things will be revealed to me in due time. If you are feeling encouraged or curious about what I shared in this post, please let me know in the comments or reach out to me if you have any questions. I’d love to hear from you!