Connecting Hearts: Supporting Female Global Workers

supporting women in missions

Have you ever fallen victim to the trap of a busy lifestyle? Often, the fruit of this culturally encouraged way of living is stress, exhaustion, and missed opportunities to build relationships. If we are to be effective followers of Jesus, then we need to take care of ourselves, and make time for others. 

Greater Europe Mission counsellor Dawn Sanders noticed the importance of helping women in missions find the rejuvenation and rest they need to continue serving effectively, creating a ministry within the organization called Connecting Hearts. 

Reconnecting with God and Others

What began in 2012 is now an ongoing, successful ministry catering to the women of GEM. 

“The goal is to connect to God, connect to others, and connect to yourself, because if you don’t know yourself at all, then really, how are you connecting to God and how are you connecting to others?” says Dawn.  

connecting hearts; supporting female missionaries

Connecting Hearts­­––under the umbrella of GEM’s wellness department (commonly known as Member Care)––serves women throughout the year with prayer, counselling, and community. The highlight of this ministry is its annual women’s retreat. 

“Sometimes, [in the business of life], we lose sight of our first love,” Dawn explains, pictured here (far left) with other Connecting Hearts leaders.

These retreats are where we can kind of reconnect that relationship and be reminded of who our first love is.” 

Making Room for the Spirit to Speak

These thoughtfully prepared retreats offer a variety of tools and activities, such as times of reflection, journaling, prayer, counselling, teaching, time spent in nature, and physical activity. Though not intended to “fix” problems that women may have, retreats like this create space for the Holy Spirit to move and speak to them where they’re at. 

supporting women in missions

And many GEM women have found them instrumental in reviving their well-being.  

“We want it to be a community where they could go deeper and really listen to God and the Holy Spirit, and share on deeper matters of the heart,” Dawn explains. 

“For me,” Emily Nichols begins, “one of the sweetest moments [at my first Connecting Hearts retreat] came when a small group of us walked a prayer labyrinth on the floor.

supporting women in missions

“As we slowly walked this labyrinth toward the center, ‘The Heart of God’, I heard Him say, ‘Panic attacks are not my will for your life.’ It was exactly what I needed to hear from the Lord to know the monthly, night-long sessions of anxiety and terrible heartburn were not what the Lord intended for me. 

He revealed His gentleness and kindness to me in that moment, and I treasure that.” 

After this experience, Emily has gone on to attend these retreats regularly. 

Not Just Another “Women’s Retreat”

Leslie Hall, another participant in the retreats, admits: “Normally, I’m not a huge fan of ‘women’s retreats’. Nine times out of ten, the content has been disappointing and not applicable, and I just haven’t enjoyed those experiences. 

“Connecting Hearts wasn’t anything like previous women’s retreats I had been on,” says Leslie. “The content was deep, meaningful, and applicable to anyone in any life stage, and I deeply enjoyed the connectivity with women I’d not normally get a chance to interact with in GEM.” 

Emily agrees. “Perhaps you think women’s retreats are cheesy or not your thing, but I can tell you that the team planning and putting on these retreats want you to connect with the Lord. And I think they do a stunning job of listening to the Lord to provide what women on the field need.”  

“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Matthew 11:28-29
supporting women in missions

Member care and wellness ministries are vital resources to help strengthen missionaries as they serve the Lord. Every soul, no matter where or how we serve, needs regular rest and reminders of who our first love is.

About the author: Leanne Monge Barrera serves in the GEM Canada office as a storyteller and social media content creator. She also serves at home, homeschooling her four children.

Originally published at GEM Canada.