Introducing Our 2014 Middle East Retreat Speaker – A blog post for Thrive Advocates
We are privileged to have Rachel speak to us at the retreat in February. She was born in Minnesota, and came to Christ at age seven. Rachel felt called to full-time overseas ministry as a young teen, and by her mid-20’s had completed her Master’s degree and was in full-time ministry leading teenagers all over the world on mission trips. She and her husband had a long-distance courtship across three countries, and after marrying spent the next decade in war-torn Central Asia. Her passion is for Christ and encouraging others to develop daring, better-than-gold-faith. Rachel is presently finishing her doctorate in Biblical Studies. When she’s not studying, teaching, coaching, or facilitating a workshop, Rachel begins her days drinking a cappuccino (or two) with her husband, and ends them laughing around the dinner table with their three children. She and her family are based in Central Asia, and serve with Barnabas International traveling throughout the region encouraging and strengthening global workers.
Can you share with us the theme of your messages? The theme for this retreat is focusing on entering the community of God. My goal is to challenge the women to be open to new depths and ways of communing with the heart of God. I’m hoping that God will speak through the three talks to magnify our perceptions of Him.
1. Costly Love: The Heart of the Father (Luke 15)
2. Courageous Suffering: Entering the Son’s Experience (Gen 16)
3. Inner Intimacy: Communion with the Spirit (Ez. 47)
How has God worked this theme into your heart? I prayed through 3 different themes and outlines, but this one kept coming up. I sense God wants His Bride to truly know and experience Him. He longs to be known and loved by us, and to love others through us by developing His heart more fully in each person. I also know that the one thing which can save the life and ministry of a front-line worker is an accurate understanding of God and the ability to hear His voice and commune with Him. My third message is the hardest for me…it would be much easier to pick a different topic, but I feel I must find a way to teach it – He has not let up impressing that on my heart. He has been especially working in me in relation to this third talk, in developing my own communion with the Father, Son, and Spirit.
What are some challenges you are facing as you prepare for the retreat? I’ve left all sorts of margin and planned long-term – but all of my margin for preparation has been used up. I’m not panicking, but have found this to be quite interesting the sorts of good and challenging things getting in my way to get to my study. Most of this has been ministry events of major urgency and complex and weighty issues. It’s been a battle.
Additionally, God’s timetable is different than ours – He’s chosen the past months to do major heartwork in me, so that has taken my attention and time.
What are some retreat joys you are anticipating? I love being with the Thrive volunteers and the Thrive staff – It’s a major “shot in the arm” to be with all of you! Of course it is nice to have a break from running my own household, and having quiet time in my room…as a busy mom, that’s always a treat. Finally, when I hear of how God uses the whole package of Thrive retreats, not just the Bible teaching to encourage and strengthen a front-line worker, it makes the time away from my husband and children worth it. So I look forward to hearing from the volunteers on how God is working in the lives of the women during the retreat. It helps encourage me and my family – I always pass on what is appropriate so they know God is using Mommy and their sacrifice of being separated from me is worth it.
How can we pray for you? Please pray that I won’t come into the retreat time depleted and weary. I’m working hard to protect the time I need, but there are some very sad and difficult situations we are walking through with cross-cultural workers right now. Please pray especially for the third talk I’m finishing, as I continue to listen to how He wants me to teach about His Spirit for this group at this time. Please pray for my children and husband. We always seem to have some challenges before a major ministry event, so pray for protection, health, unity, and peace.
Together for Our King,
About the author
Linda Swanson serves with Paraclete as a member care provider, retreat speaker and spiritual director. She comes alongside global workers to help them be effective in life and ministry. Via Skype, Linda provides spiritual direction for global workers. With her husband, Kevin, Linda served for 28 years with MAF, both overseas as a pilot/mechanic family and at headquarters in administration and member care. During eight of those years, she helped direct Fairhaven Ministries, a retreat center for clergy and global workers. Now, Linda lives in Englewood, New Jersey where her husband is a pastor with the Evangelical Covenant Church. Their two children are married and they have two grandsons.View all articles by: Linda Swanson
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