As I drove to the Mount St. Michael campus on Saturday, March 25, my mind was on my two talks on sharing your faith story for the Women’s Forum. All week, with expectant faith and exuberant joy, I anticipated sharing my witness and some tips for sharing faith stories.
My mental review of my presentation was interrupted by a strong impression – not a voice, but an idea not my own: I was not going to Mount St. Michael to give a presentation but to launch a new ministry.
This impression was not the first time I felt the Lord directing me to launch a ministry in my covenant community of 150 families. In the 1970s, in the height of the renewal and before our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters formed a separate group, we had more than twice that many families. At that time, the Lord seemed to direct me to ask the leaders if I could create a newsletter for our community. They welcomed the idea immediately. We published an 8-page newsletter. In a few years we were mailing a publication of 16 to 24 pages to an international mailing list.
In 2006, it was time to replace the newsletter with a website. An Internet instructor took the lead as Webmaster and trained me as Website Editor. That training prepared me to launch JOYAlive.net three years ago. Through these ministry experiences I’ve learned that:
God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Cor 9:8)
With so much on my mind, the thought of another ministry made me dizzy. It shouldn’t have been a surprise. Earlier God had planted the thought of giving talks to Catholic groups. I’d practiced my conversion story for our parish Book Study Group, videotaped it for the CatholicConference4Moms and prepared an RCIA version for a parish in Naples, FL.
How well I know that a full-blown ministry is different than tiptoeing around the diocese speaking to a handful of parish groups when you have time. Ministry is commitment. You need resources. Time. Money. A support group.
Yet here I was on my way to share my heart with the 30-40 women who were coming that day. Forty years ago I committed to serve them and all my brothers and sisters in our covenant community. They are family. From twenty or so parishes we gather on Sunday afternoons to praise and worship, pray and learn together. Most of them attend daily Mass, and many of them are leaders in their parishes.
The Women’s Forum was beneficial to the women who began writing their faith story and then sharing it around their table with others. Yes, and I courageously announced the launch of the new Sharing Your Faith Ministry, surprising the women leaders.
As I walked down the hall on my way out I was happy that my message was welcomed with enthusiasm. Several leaders of parish groups stopped me to ask for help in taking the tips I gave for sharing a faith story and adapting them to their groups. Other women are finishing their stories to publish on the community website or JOYAlive.net.
When God initiates a project, he provides whatever it takes to complete it. God was providing the support group. For him, I could manage the time. The money would work out.
I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil 1:6)
I’m not sure what next step to take, but I’m sure if I keep moving the direction will emerge from mistakes and false starts. Prayer support is vital, so I invite all you readers to participate in this new ministry by praying for discernment. I invite you to share the joy!
What advice can you give me on approaching parish leaders to introduce a workshop on Sharing Your Faith Story? What other recommendations can you give me?
(© 2015 Nancy HC Ward)
Photo by Alice Clauss of Terry McDowell, facilitator, Nancy Ward, speaker, and Gretchen Montgomery, music minister, at Women's Forum. MSM, 4-25-15.