Diverse Friendships through Women of Vision
While reflecting on a great article by Kristen Howerton in Relevant Magazine about stretching our inner-circle of homogenous friends, I considered what areas of my life have most widened my horizons in my relationships. Where have I interacted with the most people that are different than me in ways that truly affect me?
I know I am fascinated at international airports when I realize there is a convergence so many different people from different cultures, backgrounds, and ages all coming together in one location. However, though I am an extrovert, I can’t say I have had any extensive relationships with anyone from an airport (that just sounds like a bad movie). International travel in college certainly expanded my world understanding for sure, as I interacted with people from other countries in their native lands, but as short term, it was focused on just one group at time. I have made other intentional efforts toward groups that feel different than me – homeless populations, the elderly in nursing homes, refugees in my city, and so on. Each have been wonderful and unique in themselves, but often I was serving alone or with others primarily from my own social/economic status and age from church.
I can say that Women of Vision has had one of the most unique intersection of different relationships all in one place. When I first entered Women of Vision in 2005 while living in Portland, I was one of the younger partners. I loved learning from women older (did I say older? I meant wiser of course!) than me. Our group had women from all stages of life from singles to married to young moms to empty nesters to widows, all caring for one another and learning from one another. Together, we invested in a common goal as we were gaining God’s heart for the poor and oppressed. On top of that, we had relationships with communities internationally and locally through our projects, which were built over time. As I look back at those five years I lived in Portland, I see that community as being so rich and multi-faceted – we had many differences and yet we were very unified. I was very loved on.
Now our family has moved to Hartford, CT and I can say that I am already shocked how God has done the same thing in a very small and new chapter. The WOV Hartford chapter was just made official in February. Though there has been little effort in our city to bring the pastors of the churches together, our Women of Vision group has women from eight different churches all enjoying one another tremendously. We are all different ages and personalities, yet when we discuss our heart for God’s call to this work, we sing the same note.
On a whole other level, I find it amazing to see how God has gifted each person so differently for His unified goal. At a recent event, I marveled at seeing the workings of each person using their talents. In my planning, I would have never thought of decorations; my mind just doesn’t think of this extra stuff, yet a woman in our group brought beautiful decorations that completely lit up the room. She used her gift for the benefit of all. Someone else in the group used their gifts for baking, keeping the event well stocked with delicious treats. The list goes on and on and the night was a complete success because each woman, so wonderfully diverse in their gifting, was united with others in their passion and service to God in this work.
It is such a pleasure to have been a part of not just one, but two Women of Vision chapters. I can say this phenomenon is not located within a solitary group of ladies, but is a gift to all groups as they offer themselves continually to our work together. Let’s remember that it isn’t “Strong WomAN, Strong World”, but “Strong Women, Strong World.” We need each other – not just to speak up for each other across the globe, but to work with one another across the table. Amazing things happen when we do.
by Anna Goodworth, WOV Hartford, CT