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May 16

Welcome to the West Side

They cleaned the house from top to bottom, refinished floors and painted. “I have never felt God’s love that much,” Maricruz says.

In Shreveport, Reaching Out to Women

By Chris Meehan

Women in the Shreveport branch are reaching out to their neighbors, co-workers, fellow parents—even their hairdressers—through a monthly gathering for sharing and sisterhood.

“Our guests are good people who know we’re in the People of Praise, but they don’t know many details about our life,” explains Teresa Lynch, one of the organizers. Natalia Bendele adds, “We want to grow in love and friendship with these women because the Lord has placed them in our path, but also because we want to give them the opportunity to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and see a bit of community life.”

Once a month, usually on a Saturday morning, the guests and most of the 15 women in the branch come to Bill and Mary Frances Parker’s house from 10 to 11:30. After some conversation, light food and drinks, they gather in the living room for a talk and some planned and/or spontaneous sharings. Since July of 2011, about 27 guests have attended, and over half have returned for more. One of the women has expressed a serious interest in coming underway. “It’s remarkably simple and remarkably successful,” says branch leader Jack Lynch.

Teresa, Natalia, Mary Frances, Jackie Bertrand and Ruthanne Seitz plan the events. They’re flexible: the presentation might be a People of Praise teaching, a general talk on prayer, or a selection of stories that build faith. October’s gathering was merged with women’s night during the branch’s anniversary celebration. During that gathering, CIM team members Laura Brummer and Jeanette Zimmel shared with one of the guests, Gwen Stuart, about life in the nearby Allendale neighborhood. “I’ve heard the story of your community’s work in Allendale, but I never really understood it. As I listened tonight, it all came into focus. My heart started burning, and I knew I had to check it out,” Gwen said.

Invitations are generally sent via e-mail. Attendance varies: one month, two guests; the next month, 10. “Once I sent out an e-mail to the women who had never responded, and offered to take them off the list,” says Teresa. “Several asked to remain on it because they still hoped to attend someday.”

“The gatherings have brought life to our branch,” says Natalia. “They’re an answer to our prayer.”

“After a year and a half, we’re all quite happy with the results,” adds Jack.

Responses

  1. Edna Malone says:

    The Lord is working in a mighty way through these gatherings. He is calling His daughters to Himself through the love and friendship of the Shreveport Branch sisters. The Spirit and the Bride say "Come". Come Lord Jesus.

  2. Karen Triplett says:

    This article encourages me to keep offering and inviting others to experience the Lord and life in community. Who knows what great work the Lord is working in each person who crosses our path? If I but plant the seeds of His kingdom, He will cause the earth to bear good fruit. Great job ladies for an outstanding example of faithfulness!

  3. Nancy Grams says:

    What a wonderful confirmation of the need to keep on asking and not give up on people we believe the Lord wants us to reach out to and bring into our life. Thank you Shreveport sisters for being both creative and persistent in continuing this outreach to women. You call us all on to more faithfulness and love.

  4. Renee Long says:

    Thank you for the encouraging news! One of the women in my area in Servant Branch hosted Friday Morning Coffee the past few summers on her patio and we have met some wonderful women in our neighborhood because of it! We all enjoyed being with one another. Thank you for the life you bring!

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