by Cindy Stiverson
"I want you woven into a tapestry of love,
in touch with everything there is to know of God."
Colossians 2:2 MSG
We arrived in lower Manhattan at The Lambs Church of the Nazarene, 8am Sunday morning, greeted by Jim and Dustee Hullinger. Dustee gave us an orientation and put us to work making salad, plating desserts, and moving items necessary for catering. No small task considering the multiple trips up and down several flights of stairs.
Our Woven ladies greeted everyone with hugs as they arrived for the Lamb’s Church of the Nazarene (Hispanic-American version). The entire service was bilingual: the worship and the sermon. Pastor Gabriel asked me to share about Woven. I explained that my prayer for this trip was,“Break our hearts, Lord”. He was already doing that during the service. There was a sense of humility, a stirring within, a preview of things to come.
After the service, Jim gathered men to bring wheelchair patients from The Rivington House, an HIV/AIDS residential treatment center across the street. Women from the Chinese and Hispanic-American churches also gathered around tables. Our Woven team served meals to this diverse group of women. We even had some men join us. Men. Food. Go figure!
This was a day of firsts:
- the first event for hosting women from both the Chinese and Hispanic-American churches.
- the first time Dustee Hullinger's outreach ministry of Gifted Hands converged with the ministry of the church.
- the first time HIV/AIDS patients from The Rivington House participated in an event with The Lambs Church.
- the first Woven Missions Team experience; and the first ever mission trip for several of our ladies.
We watched in awe as this crippled team poured their hearts out to the Lord. One woman was blind, but she knew the motions. Another woman could not speak, but she sang every word. Miracles right before our eyes.
A beautiful young woman from the church led us in worship. Before she began, she tearfully shared her prayer, that she would come to a place of freedom of worship, unhindered by what others think. She too was touched by what we had just witnessed.
Then it was my turn. Standing before this room of women from China, Trinidad, South America, Dominican Republic, Africa, Peru, Columbia, Puerto Rico, Spain, Jamaica, Haiti, and the US, I knew that only God could accomplish what we were there to do. Our Woven team dispersed to lead table discussions. We had Spanish and Chinese interpreters, but how would they communicate on a deeper level? We faced quite a challenge. I spoke, intermittently asking them to discuss at their tables. It looked and felt like organized chaos!
About mid-way, something supernatural happened. The dynamics changed. Diversity became unity. The room was still. Everyone was at full attention. Women openly shared with the entire group. The lesson I was leading, “From Aloneness to Oneness” had become a reality. Hearts were being woven together in love. It was beautiful to behold.
Though we went to minister to these women, they ministered to us! We struggle to put it into words. We weep, speechless in describing what took place.
So often we need to pinpoint exactly how God works. I like to figure things out, to see what God is doing. In this case, I can’t begin to explain what happened. I only know that God answered my prayer. Our hearts were broken from dawn to dusk. And somehow, it is simply enough just knowing that.
I am a speaker, writer, artist and an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene. I lead the women at NewarkNaz in Newark, Ohio. In 1998, God gave me a vision for Woven: Women of Virtue Network. It's a blessing to be involved in so many women's lives. Sometimes I think my heart will burst.
So very thankful for my hubby Mark. Extremely proud of my daughter speaker/author Nicole and son-in-law Matthew Bromley. Love my grandsons Jude and Isaac beyond measure.
Loving God with all my heart, soul, strength; and loving and leading others to do the same is the greatest joy of my life.