I love a peek behind the curtains and knowing a bit of the story behind the story. About five months after Velvet Ashes launched, another organization contacted me saying how impressed they were with Velvet Ashes and wondered what a partnership might look like between us.
Can I tell you how stunned and honored co-founders Danielle Wheeler, Patty S, and I were? I won’t drag you blow-by-blow through the discerning process we went through to determine if God was inviting the two organization to become more than partners. But I will say that there were Skype calls, lots of prayer, and talking between Danielle, Patty, and me after each conversation with the other organization.
Fast forward a few more months, and as part of the discerning process Danielle and I joined five people from their organization for an in-person retreat to discuss what a relationship together could look like. It was a wonderful time of hearing about their organization and how God had led them to where they were and how they serve His servants; and getting to share our journey and desires for women on the field.
Much of that weekend has faded into fond fuzzy memory, but one section remains vivid in my mind. Danielle mentioned how other online platforms such at (in)courage and the If Gatherings were using technology to host virtual events. As spiritually rich as they were (and are!), they were not geared to the unique needs and realities of people on the field.
“What if we partnered to bring an online retreat to women where they are?”
Needless to say, we thought it was a brilliant, dare I go so far as to say inspired, idea.
I love how God works. Instead of jumping with joy and high-fives all around for this brilliant idea, we got polite smiles and blank looks.
Later in the afternoon as Danielle and I walked and processed how the discerning time was going (and the five of them met and privately discussed the time too), we came back to the retreat idea. Sure, it would be a lot of work to pull it off. But if we kept it kind of simple, and only filmed a main session and a few testimonies and created a guide, it was doable.
As you probably have guessed, in the weeks following our time, both sides came to understand that God was not bringing our two organizations together in a sort of merge. Instead He had used the process to confirm that He has called each to play different roles in the Kingdom and that while we can be for each other, we will not be journeying with each other.
By now it was late-September and we could not shake the retreat idea. So, filled with prayer, hope, and a ton of naivete, Danielle, Patty, and I decided to go for it and host something we had never seen, but believed was possible.
For the first retreat the theme was “Release: Learning to live light and free.” God says his yoke is easy, why do so many on the field live a life that seems anything but light and free in God? We had no idea what would happen when we opened registration. We had no idea if anyone else was hungry to connect with God through a “virtual retreat” and if they would agree that technology was a viable way to connect with God and each other.
Seven hundred and twenty-two people signed up serving in 92 countries around the world. If you buy the first retreat, you will see that the content is solid, but the quality of production is not what the current retreat is. The response confirmed that we weren’t crazy, and God took these loaves and fishes and fed his children.
The retreat has grown and morphed and expanded. It has become a staple in the lives of women (and men) around the world. The theme this year is from Habakkuk: “Yet I will Celebrate.” Like a proud mama of her adult child, I am no longer in the day-to-day running of Velvet Ashes. When I heard the theme, it instantly struck a chord, and I imagine you had a similar response.
What I love about Habakkuk is that all of the other prophets were spokespeople for God. They shared God’s message with his people. But not Habakkuk. He is the only prophet who spoke for the people to God. After laying out our case and explaining to God what we need from God after our exhausting service of Him, Habakkuk comes to the end and says, “Okay God, even if the visa doesn’t come through, and my children are sick, even if my organization doesn’t know how to use my skills and I am frustrated, yet I will still rejoice in You.”
Obviously, that is from the unofficial Cross-Cultural Worker Translation. The times may be different and the examples Habakkuk uses are different, but the sentiment and the posture of the heart are familiar.
For 48 hours, the wonderful team at Velvet Ashes is offering a 20% discount when you register for the retreat (use code: VelvetAshesRetreatCoupon). You know that the heart of Global Trellis is for each of us to have an alive soul and an expanding skill set. This amazing retreat is one of the ways for you to tend your soul, commune with God, and allow Him to love on you, right where you are.