September 17, 2021

Cayman Islands: Women’s retreat challenges regional women- Be Transformed For Service

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dsc_0290Some 500 Adventist women from Cayman and around the Caribbean converged on the campus of the University College of the Cayman Islands last weekend to be inspired and re-charged at the 2016 Women’s Retreat. Joining them were Women’s Ministries leaders from the Adventist world headquarters and regional divisions.
The retreat, on the theme “Lord, Transform Me: The Woman in the Mirror,” and staged from Friday, 30 September, to Sunday, 2 October, was organised by the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) in conjunction with the Cayman Islands Conference.  ATCU is the headquarters for administration of Adventist churches in the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. A total of thirty-one women attended from the TCI and the Bahamas.
Keynote speaker was Mrs. Raquel Arrais, who is the associate director for Women’s Ministries at the General Conference, which coordinates the global ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church from its headquarters in Maryland, USA. She has served for more than 20 years at various levels of the Adventist church, including many years in her native Brazil.
Mrs. Arrais was joined by Mrs. Dinorah Rivera, the Women’s Ministries Director for the Inter-American Division (IAD), which coordinates ministries in the Caribbean and Latin America.  She was joined by Mrs. Denise Johnson, the Women’s Ministries Director for ATCU.  Mrs. Johnson organised the conference in collaboration with Mrs. Sheila Woods, the Cayman Islands Women’s Ministries director. Formally representing the Cayman Islands Conference over the weekend was Pastor Reinaldo Dracket, the Executive Secretary for the Cayman Islands Conference.
In addition to services throughout the weekend, several concurrent youth seminars were conducted by Mrs. Johnson. The three seminars respectively targeted teenage girls, young adults, and persons interested in mentoring young women.
Mrs. Rivera also conducted a seminar, alerting women to the needs for nurturing, empowerment and compassion, in their families, churches, and neighbourhoods. She said that surveys had shown a growing sector of persons were disillusioned by the church, making it increasingly important for the nurturing of young adults to step into positions of leadership and for loving and compassionate outreach.
This goal could only be realized, she said, through a deep relationship with Christ so that we can understand and realize our mission — to heal and comfort those in need psychologically, physically and spiritually.
“Our mission may not be in far away lands,” she said, but may be right in our homes, neighbourhoods, workplaces.
In her presentations at the various services, Mrs. Arrias assured women that each “had something to offer” and encouraged them to “come as they are”, as God would clothe them with a “new robe of righteousness.” That would endow aspirants, she said, with a clear vision of the choices they faced in their lines. God would further grant wisdom wisdom and discernment to enable them to cut through the clutter and make wise choices.
In the process, Mrs. Arrias said, women who are now labouring in the various ministries needed to be sensitive to the fact that half of the current members were under 30 years, with the consequent necessity for their mentoring to take the place of current leaders.
The keynote speaker acknowledged that many women may be facing difficult times, but assured listeners that if they placed “Christ first, last and best,” as encouraged by the church’s late prophetess Ellen White, and in the process chose an “attitude of praise,” they could change their thinking, lives and ability to serve effectively.
A key contributing attitude, she said, was that of gratitude. That would generate joy and energy, and, when combined with a healthy lifestyle and Bible-based spiritual habits and attitudes, would result in happiness for themselves and those they served in and out of the church.
To achieve this state, she advised women to meditate on the Word of God daily.  “It is important to fellowship,” Mrs. Arrias said, “but it is even more important to have time alone with God.”
She hoped, she said, women attending the conference would be accordingly inspired and transformed to the extent that they would become “armed and dangerous.” That is, she said, they would be equipped and energized to fulfil the Women’s Ministries’ and the church’s mandate for commitment and service.
Closing the conference, Mrs. Yvette Willis and Mrs. Kathleen Williams challenged women to avoid the negative emotion of fear.
Mrs. Willis, a former law enforcement officer who has been a Women’s Ministries leader in the US for decades, said that women need not live a life in fear.  Rather than run away from the challenges, she said, they can run to the One “who will not run away from you.”
Once women secured that personal relationship with God, she said, then they would become “armed” for service.
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