But, it turned out to be a glorious occasion. Why?
- the levels of attentiveness. I was speaking after lunch to pastors who had 101 other things to do. I took one passage for study: the stilling of the storm (Mark 4: 35-41). One of them commented they had seen it "hundreds of times" before! YET, they engaged from the start as though it was fresh text, with high energy.
- collaboration. When I asked them to work with their neighbor the decibels shot up and responses overwhelmed the flip chart. With care and depth the pastors gave their best.
- appreciation. There was great warmth towards us both at the end - several commented that to see my "first lady" so obviously committed alongside me had been a highlight. How often she has been taken for granted. Not today!
- prayer - at the end hands were laid on us and a moving prayer was offered for us both as I face surgery next week.
It was an invigorating, stretching experience. To be the only two white people surrounded by such surging love and interest was a great privilege. Really. I know I am the last person there to comment objectively on whether it was a worthwhile conference, but I know we experienced the love and commitment of a great group of leaders. I look forward to seeing where it leads.