Women from across the region recently gathered for a motivational and devotional weekend.

Some 500 Adventist women from Cayman and around the Caribbean gathered on the campus of the University College of the Cayman Islands to be inspired and re-charged at the 2016 Women’s Retreat, a press release states. Joining them at the event, which took place from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, were Women’s Ministries leaders from the Adventist world headquarters and regional divisions.

The retreat, on the theme “Lord, Transform Me: The Woman in the Mirror,” was organized by the Atlantic Caribbean Union (ATCU) in conjunction with the Cayman Islands Conference. The release states the ATCU is the headquarters for administration of Adventist churches in the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Thirty-one from Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas took part in the retreat.

The associate director for Women’s Ministries at the General Conference, Raquel Arrais, was the keynote speaker. The General Conference coordinates the global ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church from its headquarters in Maryland in the United States. She has served for more than 20 years at various levels of the Adventist church, including many years in her native Brazil.

Ms. Arrais was joined by Dinorah Rivera, the Women’s Ministries director for the Inter-American Division, which coordinates ministries in the Caribbean and Latin America. She was joined by Denise Johnson, the Women’s Ministries director for ATCU. Ms. Johnson organized the conference in collaboration with Sheila Woods, the Cayman Islands Women’s Ministries director. Formally representing the Cayman Islands Conference over the weekend was Pastor Reinaldo Dracket, executive secretary of the Cayman Islands conference.

The Praise and Worship Team  brought a worshipful tone to the various services throughout the weekend.
The Praise and Worship Team brought a worshipful tone to the various services throughout the weekend.

In addition to services throughout the weekend, several concurrent youth seminars were conducted by Ms. Johnson. The three seminars targeted teenage girls, young adults and people interested in mentoring young women.

Ms. Rivera also conducted a seminar alerting women to the need for nurturing, empowerment and compassion in their families, churches and neighborhoods. In her remarks, she said a growing sector of people are disillusioned by the church, making it increasingly important for the nurturing of young adults to step into positions of leadership and for loving and compassionate outreach.

This goal can only be realized, she said, through a deep relationship with Christ so that members of the church can understand and realize their mission – to heal and comfort those in need psychologically, physically and spiritually.

“Our mission may not be in faraway lands,” she said, but may be right in our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces.

In her presentations at the various services, Ms. Arrais assured the women that each has something to offer and encouraged them to come as they are, as “God would clothe them with a new robe of righteousness.”

Ms. Arrais reminded women leaders that half of the current members are under 30 years of age and in need of leadership mentoring.

With the Bahamas contingent, second from right, Raquel Arrais, General Conference Women’s Ministries associate director; fourth from right, Denise Johnson, Women’s Ministries director, ATCU; and fourth from left, Dinorah Rivera, Women’s Ministries director, IAD. Photos: Pat Ebanks
With the Bahamas contingent, second from right, Raquel Arrais, General Conference Women’s Ministries associate director; fourth from right, Denise Johnson, Women’s Ministries director, ATCU; and fourth from left, Dinorah Rivera, Women’s Ministries director, IAD. Photos: Pat Ebanks

A key contributing attitude, she said, is that of gratitude, which will generate joy and energy, and, when combined with a healthy lifestyle and Bible-based spiritual habits and attitudes, will result in happiness for themselves and those they serve in and out of the church.

She advised women to meditate on the word of God daily.

“It is important to [have] fellowship,” Ms. Arrais said, “but it is even more important to have time alone with God.”

She said she hoped that women attending the conference would be accordingly inspired and transformed to the extent that they would become “armed and dangerous.”

That is, she said, they would be equipped and energized to fulfill the Women’s Ministries and the church’s mandate for commitment and service.

Closing the conference, Yvette Willis and Kathleen Williams challenged women to avoid the negative emotion of fear.

Ms. Willis, a former law enforcement officer who has been a Women’s Ministries leader in the U.S. for decades, said that women need not live a life in fear. Rather than run away from the challenges, she said, they “can run to the One, who will not run away from you.”

Once women secure that personal relationship with God, she said, then they will become “armed” for service.

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