Yeshua’s Healing Touch
Over 100 women of all ages, from multiple congregations and states came together in the mountains of North Carolina for our 21st annual Messianic Women’s Retreat. The theme of Yeshua’s Healing Touch, and the opportunity to physically gather after a year of lock downs, distancing, and health concerns held exceptional meaning and value for each of us!
I the Lord Am your Healer
As ladies filtered in on Friday afternoon, we received a warm welcome and a beautiful mug featuring our mountain view and Scripture relating to the weekend – Exodus 15:26 Jehovah Rapha, I the Lord am your Healer. Just as the mugs were ready to be filled, so were we!
It was wonderful to start shifting gears from everyday life to retreat time: the beds were already made, and all the meals were planned and prepared. After dinner, we found our worship center for the weekend – the gym!
Surprisingly, the gymnasium was perfect to accommodate our numbers, allow plenty of space to dance, and had great acoustics for our incredibly gifted singers, musicians, and all the ladies lifting voices and holy hands in His praise.
After bringing in Shabbat together with a generous portion of worship to help complete our shift from regular life to the sweetness of sisterhood and rest in Him, we dove into His Word.
The first message of our retreat examined Yeshua’s incredible encounter with the nameless “Samaritan Woman at the Well” (John 4:7-42), and how His loving conversation (longest recorded with anyone in Scripture) and revelation of Himself as her Messiah (most specific to anyone, “I am He”) healed her completely from her sin, brokenness, and the pain of rejection of others, transforming her into a redeemed, restored vessel so overflowing with joy and thanksgiving at being fully accepted in The Beloved; that she sought out those who had apparently shunned her, with peace and confidence, to share her testimony of His amazing grace. And revival broke out in her community!
We appreciated how Yeshua’s purposeful path through Samaria set a new course for healing the distrust and disgust between Jews and Samaritans (and all people groups) as we become one in Him.
We looked at God’s original design for women, and the ripple effect we enjoy today, of Yeshua’s example in restoring the dignity and value of womankind.
After gathering in delightfully small groups, which had been carefully appointed for discussion and prayer, there was free time for dancing, schmoozing, and getting an early night’s sleep!
A strong wind blew across the mountain most of the night, as if the Lord was at work blowing away all the debris of past hurts and sin and giving fresh grace for what is rooted and grounded in His love.
Trust in the Lord
Sunrise on Saturday saw tender morning devotions with Laurie as she walked us through Proverbs 3:5-6 and her personal testimony of trusting in Him with all things, of His peace and provision in what is completely out of our control, and His goodness to care for us perfectly.
After a hot breakfast and strolling back down to the gym, we shared more worship, and a powerful teaching from Miriam about Yeshua’s miraculous healing of two very different women.
Yeshua sets us Free!
We recalled how Miriam of Magdala (Luke 8:1-2) was filled with seven demons and had no way to get free by her own power, BUT THE LORD cast them out and set her free. She became such a devoted, faithful follower of Yeshua that she is mentioned in all four gospels and was the first to see the resurrected Messiah!
We also considered the dramatic healing Yeshua brought to a woman who had been suffering crippling infirmity for eighteen years (Luke 13:10-16) so that she could not stand up straight. Yeshua spoke freedom and healing to her and touched her.
Instantly she stood and began praising God. “After eighteen years of oppression, being physically unable to look up, in an instant Yeshua’s loving touch enabled her to look fully into Yeshua’s face, as she gazed lovingly into His eyes.”
Contrary to the legalists who complained about healing on Shabbat and cared more for donkeys than daughters of Abraham, Yeshua showed that mercy and compassion should motivate every use of our time, talent and treasure, whatever day of the week.
Rejoicing in the Lord
No Sisterhood retreat would be complete without art, dancing, and the gift of goofiness! We enjoyed liberal portions of all three on Saturday afternoon and evening.
Thanks to the inspiration and preparation of Elaine and Ann, assisted by Tamara and Carolyn, there were two different types of artwork available for ladies to make their own creations of beauty celebrating His Word and His creation.
With help from Blanca and the HOI dance team, an Israeli and Messianic Beginner’s Dance Class was also offered so ladies could enjoy the blessing of praising His Name together in the dance.
Free time for browsing downtown Blowing Rock or enjoying the rare treat of an afternoon nap were other options gladly taken. Before our “World Famous Talent Show – with Laurie Taylor” Saturday night, we heard three very meaningful testimonies of Yeshua’s healing power in the lives of women in our midst.
Oppression, broken relationships, deep wounds of past sin and trauma were seen to be no match for Messiah’s healing power through loving prayers, a simple children’s song, and the restoration of wholeness through worship.
As Tina lit the braided candle, we observed Havdalah together, appreciating that He has made a difference between the ordinary days of the week and Shabbat, just as we are set apart in Messiah even while we interact with others around us.
R and R in Yeshua
During the talent show we were treated to some skillful singing and strumming of ukuleles, and guitar. We related to meaningful prose about mothers, closets, and matching two-piece brown velour outfits. We were tickled and motivated by a skit about the schemes of the enemy and how we defend ourselves and defeat him (or not!).
Absolute hilarity ensued with an unusual Olympics presentation of synchronized swimming. A showstopper performance complete with canes & top hats encouraged us that it’s going to be a great day (In Him!)
No Condemnation In Yeshua
Even after late night dancing, schmoozing, puzzle assembly, and final shopping the Messianic Marketplace, we were all up with fresh strength and joy for our final morning message on Sunday, as Miriam led us through a liberating message entitled “Drop the Rock, There is No Condemnation in Messiah”.
Not only did we see how Yeshua intervened with His very presence to take the attention off of the woman caught “in the very act” of adultery, (John 7:53-8:11) and how He set her free with His words, “neither do I condemn you, go your way and sin no more”, but how we also must not throw rocks at ourselves, no self-condemnation is allowed either (Romans 8:1)! In Him we have forgiveness and restoration.
We remembered that scripturally, being healed is being restored to our original wholeness, with restoration of every aspect of our lives to the condition God intended for it.
We are designed to be His instruments of grace and blessing, vessels for honor and His praise. We are created for connection with Him and with others, that His love and mercy would be seen in our relationships and His Salvation would be made known.
We were lovingly prayed over by members of the leadership team, and we were blessed by the anointed gift of song and keyboard by sisters Jenny and Judith as they proclaimed the Blessing song over us – and prayed for each situation we may face as we returned home, that He has gone before us and is at work already, to bring transformation and His glory.
It was such a blessing to see women of every age, from great grandmothers to young ladies not old enough to drive a car yet, taking in these truths, His Truth, growing and glowing together in our restored selves, realigned with His Word that we would be filled with His joy and purpose.
Thank you to Sisterhood Leaders
Huge thanks to the entire Sisterhood team, for Miriam’s leadership in worship and in the Word, and for each leader, Ann, Stacy, Sherry, Donna, Rachel, whose labors of love behind the scenes and on the scene made this retreat ( and all our Sisterhood events!) possible.
Thanking the Lord for each small group leader who lovingly, prayerfully guided their ladies in rich discussion of His Word. Praying in advance for provision for next year’s retreat!
Testimonials and Comments
To get a sense of what this retreat has meant, here is a sampling of comments from some of the ladies who attended: “I could relate to all the women we studied.” “It was wonderful, all the breakout sessions were the best I’ve ever attended.”
“Beautiful experience and life changing also, we are growing in Messiah, I found myself confronting old/wrong teachings regarding how I was supposed to live/enjoying life of freedom, forgiveness, sisterhood, friendship, according to the Word and the examples of the diversity of women/circumstances Yeshua transformed (in Scripture and in our community!)”
“It reminded me of the camp song, ‘make new friends but keep the old, one is silver the other gold’ it was good to see HOI friends, some I hadn’t seen since moving. It was also nice to meet new friends from our HOI plants and other congregations.”
“My small group was special. I could tell they were students of the Word and delighted in being able to “connect the dots” of what they knew with the teachings. The teaching and worship were a great blessing.”
“Messages were great.”
“My blessing was to enjoy three generations dancing together Friday night”.
“My adult daughter and I loved the blessing song. The whole weekend was great.”
From one of the younger ladies: “no matter how long/deep you were in sin, Yeshua will always welcome you with open arms.”
Another young lady: “I liked the talent show and the dancing!”
A mom who attended with multiple daughters: “The whole thing was a blessing, from messages to all of it. One daughter was blessed by the worship, the healing song we sang each day. Another daughter was blessed by true understanding of Yeshua’s gift of shalom (John 14:27).”
“Of course, fellowship with the sisters was wonderful especially some of the ladies I haven’t seen in a long time, but the most meaningful thing for me was the breakout session Saturday morning. Each lady had something to share and we all connected to the message of Miriam’s teaching and to each other in a special way. “
“I am feeling blessed that I spent the retreat with so many of my sisters in the Lord. I had spent many months unable to be with my mom. But the Lord opened the door and she was able to go with me. My mom has dementia and needs to be watched at all times. My many wonderful sisters, some that I had just met, helped me all weekend and took her by the arm and said, ‘mom walk with me.’ I was able to participate in everything. The Lord is the Healer of all hurts and problems and He truly was with us all during the retreat.”
“The blessing for me came in the presence of women being together, real, vulnerable, yet fully ready to engage and have fun! Testimonies moved me… dedication of the Sisterhood leadership team to continue to press forward to provide a place that we can flourish together!”
“Overwhelmed by the love, support and unity of sisters who follow and adore the Messiah of Israel! I reconnected with sisters I haven’t fellowshipped with in a long time and made friendships with sisters I’ve never met before. The ultimate highlight was healing and forgiveness of Yeshua in several areas of my life. I can’t wait until next year!”