One of the highlights of my year is going to our church’s bible conference. Asi es, we make that long 6 hour drive, ending with a winding mountain top, all for us to hear 17 seminars/sermons, aimed to keep us on the straight and narrow. Pero es más que eso.
It is a mountaintop retreat for me. A week away from the hustle and bustle at home, a time for just Ben and I. I’m not that girly girl that likes to dress up, I don’t care for all the hard work of primping, but I do like the end results when I stand in front of the mirror, que guapa! I drink up all the nuggets of truth and inspiration that fill my mind, heart and notebook when I sit and listen to each seminar. The Donut break and afternoon break gives me that wonderful opportunity to reconnect with old friends and when I’m feeling bold and confident, I step out and make a new friend. Sabes que? Conference time makes my flaco such a social butterfly, this man of few words, goes around getting to know his brethren! It makes me kinda sorta jealous of him and for him. Then there’s the updates, I love them! The missionaries we send and support all around the world, come home and share their experiences. They pass the mantle to men of those nations; nationals, who carry on the vision. I’m not a world traveler, but hearing the various accents, seeing the cultural attire while listening to glimpses of all those supernatural things that God is doing around the world helps me see the incredible thing I’m a part of.
My fellowship ( Asi es. Zepedas, maybe Mexicans across the board, tend to appropriate everything they are attached to. Something very personal happens and we must declare it with “my” well because, it’s mine) CFM Ministries; Christian Fellowship Ministries- a Pentecostal movement born during the Jesus People revival. One small struggling church in Prescott Az. grew to a network of thousands of churches worldwide with a mission to preach the gospel. Bible conferences bring our churches together for a time of refreshment and renewed vision.
The highlight of the conference at the end of the week is to hear the announcements of new churches going domestically and internationally. Ves, for me it is so very personal, because in 1983 a couple rose to the challenge and came to San Diego to start a church. Just the couple and their kids, we call it “pioneering”. I was ‘born again’ in 1984 after hearing the message of salvation and because they went there, into my city, I’ve had this anchor all of my adult life.
Almost 40 years later, besides my church, our fellowship is over 20 churches strong in San Diego. This January conference, 7 international works were announced and several domestic works around the U.S. Gloria a Dios! Me atrevo a decir, God is advancing his gospel message around the world. Announcements were made for Samoa, Sudan y por supuesto, I was excited to hear 2 announcements of churches into the heart of Mexico.
Y sabes otra cosa? Besides all the excitement of new churches and new christians, I have my own personal turning points. Milestones that happened while I absorbed the full conference experience.
- It was at one of my first conferences on a nice Arizona warm desert day that I broke up with my Flaco, because in this Jesus People culture, dating is intended to lead to Gods institution of marriage! Hijole! I felt that marriage wasn’t for me, at least not until I was very old, like 30. Pero, as soon as our relationship ended, I began to wonder if marriage could be blessed? Indeed! I know now, after 33 years with my Benjamin, that in Christ, a marriage covenant could be prosperous, even when our traditional culture and color was so opposite. Gracias a Dios for my patient cold blooded Englishman from the East Coast, he learned how to roll with this feisty latina woman from the West Coast. Y yo? Well learned how to be still…. mas o menos 😏
- It was at a conference that Ben was approached about his little girl and this time he wouldn’t say “she’s too young”. In a twinkling of an eye she had entered that grown up stage of life. Dating, whirlwind and marriage. Is it ok if I tell you that nobody warned me about that part of parenting, you know when you must release your child. Hijole, it was hard, you lose a part of you for a season.
- Pero! Then came the conference that another turning point came. El gran dia that I turned the corner and became an abuela. It was a bittersweet day, Maricella was supposed to wait until I got back from the conference. I would be ready to receive my reward. Pero, instead she arrived early we welcomed her into the world via facetime and she welcomed us home! Ahora, We, Apa and Ama have 8 little gems. I have forgotten the days I thought I lost my children, my hands are full again.
- It was at a conference during the exciting time of announcements that we heard a very personal announcement. “Out of San Diego Ca. into Bonita Ca. (also a community of San Diego) Jon & Denise Greene.” My heart swelled with delight at the very idea that my hijo and his beautiful helpmeet would be pioneering a church. In my heart I’ve always held a special place for the pioneer pastor who willingly leaves behind his steady grounded life to go to regions beyond. Y para que? To preach the message of the gospel to individuals like me, some broken, some empty, trying to find their way in life. Y ahora, my son is out preaching and teaching. Mi hijo, el pastor. Hijole! Maybe he’s gonna get a “Rosie” in his church?
Sometimes, especially in these 2 years with the Covid invasion, my faith has been challenged and I’ve had to stand when I’m too tired. It’s a spiritual connection with a supernatural God who loves me, us, who graciously refills our vessel through his word. Por supuesto that this connection also happens at home alone during my devotions, or when I go to church. O ya sabes, God is with us always, pero, at conferences I am stirred when I see what God is doing all around the world for any willing and open heart. It’s catching a vision of hope for the lost, and for me. Lost men and women who are restored and go back into all the world to rescue a soul. CFM Bible Conferences, quizas they sound dull or boring, but they are a lifeline to me. I love what God does through them.