Experiences, both positive and negative create our lives. As Spiritual Development in Schools Team, one of our work experiences was attending together for a Leaders’ Meeting and a conference in Belfast, Ireland. The Leaders’ Meeting took place on Wednesday and Thursday 26th, and 27th of October followed by the 24-7 Prayer International Conference from the 27th to the 30th of October. Both functions were held at Assembly Buildings.
The first meeting we attended, was the leaders’ meeting. During this meeting, on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning through different activities such as singing, prayers, talks, and exercises which helped us to ponder upon the values of love, faith, and hope, about the best ways and importance of giving ourselves a most spacious rhythm in our lives to relate with God, friendships, the concept of stories in our lives, and how to help ourselves not to take each other for granted. Another necessary aspect we’ve pondered upon was transformation, how the human being finds himself again after losing himself.
The leader’s meeting enhanced the reminiscence to all of us that our hearts are always longing for something – an abundance of the love of Christ, comfort, security, and sometimes also for secular things as we are all human. This longing finds its climax in prayer. When we pray we connect ourselves with God, with ourselves, and with others, and prayer gives us the capacity for aspiration, like the apostles when they asked Jesus to teach them to learn to pray.
The Gathering then, similar to the Leaders’ Meeting was a three-day experience of prayer, reflections, and worship but on a larger scale. Around three hundred Pastoral Workers from different areas in the church, different denominations, and thirty nationalities took part in this Gathering. As one of the speakers said, this experience together was a spark to move together for a move of God, and together we lit the spark through prayer. The climax of this conference was the session on Friday evening where the speaker made a reflection on the life we are living nowadays. We are in need to live more with the virtue of hope than fear and to fear to live under the hope of our convictions in the tent of hope. This can be done mostly by encouraging one another all the time and keeping in mind that faith is part of our heritage. It is the substance of the things we hope for. The speaker brought up the nice example of the huckleberries, that one can find them everywhere and they grow up together even though they are different. Like them, we are called to grow as a community of grace, and take care of the wounds of individualism and capitalism that are roaming in our world. At the end of the session, while reflecting on what we had heard and listening to background soft music, we ate some blueberries. It was such an enhancing and amazing experience!
Throughout this experience, experiencing prayer spaces ourselves and discussing daily the sessions and what struck us most as a team while returning back home after the conference, was very effective to each and every one of us. This also helped us to continue getting to know ourselves, and each other. It also gave us a boost in our mission with the various audiences we work with and relate with, students, educators, religious counsellors, parents, our colleagues, and our families.
Thank you God for your presence, compassion, kindness and unconditional love. Thank you to the 24-7 Team for their invitation and organization. Let us all continue stretching together for the sake of the Glory of God.