So, this past weekend I was in Wisconsin. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Wow, Jennifer, you live in Columbus, OH. What would be the perfect place to visit in Janaury? How about… Wisconsin!!”
Actually, I had to laugh because I went up there for a huge annual event called the Rural Christian Women’s Conference, and when they called to book me, they were thrilled to find out I was from Columbus, OH. “Oh, Jennifer, it seems like most of our speakers tend to come from the south. If you’re from Columbus, you’ve seen snow! You won’t be afraid to come up here in January!” When they heard I went to college in Michigan, they were completely sold. 🙂
I did book my flight out the day before because I’m no dummy, but we actually had beautiful weather for January in Wisconsin! It was so fun to get back up here too – it’s been a couple of years since I was in this part of the country. I got up there easily and we drove out to Wautoma High School where the event was being held. The women who organize this told me that they all live “way out” in Wisconsin, and they got tired of having to drive all the way to Minneapolis or Milwaukee to go to a Christian event, so they decided to start having their own. They never dreamed it would get so big. They sell out every year at 1000 women, and can’t do more because the high school is the biggest venue in the whole region, and 1000 is the max they can get in the gym. I knew from our first conversations that I would love these women, and I did. They were just down to earth, funny, go-getter women who love Jesus and want to serve the women in their part of the world – love it!
We got in and soundchecked on Friday. Then the event was all day on Saturday. I taught on the life of Peter, 3 sessions on “Out of the Boat” or being bold to be like Peter – not afraid to try and risk failure, but to get out and be sold out for the Lord and see the adventure of living life for God. We had an awesome time!
At the end of the day, literally in the final moments when I was leading closing worship, we had a very scary situation. A woman collapsed and the squad had to be called. You know how it is at the end of an event – every one is sort of rushing out to get in their cars and beat the traffic out of there. Well, we asked them all to sit and wait while we got the squad in there, and I led a time of prayer for her – it was so powerful to see all these women who had lives and schedules and places to be gather together, let all that go, and just pray for this woman. It was a very terrifying situation as it was much more significant than just a fainting spell, but I am happy to report that she did recover, and watching that moment as those women came together, while not the ending I had planned, was a powerful witness to the Big “C” Church.
The next day I was scheduled at a very small church in Fairwater, WI, very close by. A friend of mine used to live here, and when she heard where I would be, she asked if I would go to that church. We were hosted by the loveliest people from the congregation and ended up just feeling like family. The people that we meet – this family, the pastor of the church, the committee at Rural Christian Women, so many more – the people are one of my absolute favorite things about this ministry. It’s seeing the body of Christ in all it’s facets and cultures and backgrounds, and still seeing that one thread of a love for Jesus woven through that we all have in common. It’s a little taste of what heaven will be! You know even though you’ve never met before, somehow, you are still family.
Going home was a lot more like traveling to Wisconsin in January, although ironically it was tornadoes in Atlanta that were holding things up. We lost hours and hours, but did eventually get home at around 3 in the morning. 🙂 It was a great weekend, and I’d happily go back up and be with them anytime, even in January!