|50 Retreats of Hope
By Maggie Lopez, Rachel's Vineyard™ English Retreat Coordinator
November marked our 50th English retreat offering hope and healing to men and women suffering from an abortion. We were expecting our largest group yet, many with fearful hearts.
The first person who arrived came with tired eyes, having not slept the night before, as she anticipated facing what she feared the most: herself. We were also expecting three couples on this retreat; one of them remained in their car, riveted in fear. We gently reminded them of a loving God that was just waiting to bless them with new life and how we would be there as they took their first steps… literally, the first steps out of their car and into God’s arms.
Tears of guilt, shame, fear and despair filled our gathering area as we began the Lord’s work. The floodgates had opened. Every tear was a healing tear, reminding us of Christ’s forgiving mercy. “Jesus is holding me in His arms” was the only phrase to be heard in a room full of tears.
One retreatant struggled to open her heart to God’s healing touch. We waited patiently as we knew God never fails. The moment came, as she opened her aching heart to God, and you know who had the key? A fellow retreatant – the one who had so much fear in her heart she couldn’t get out of her car before the retreat. When she broke through her own fear, she was able to share that strength with someone else. Heart to heart… pain to pain… the healing had begun. “My child forgives me,” she was heard to say. “I am at peace,” said another.
Another could not bear to go into the chapel because that was where God was. By Sunday, she was walking, smiling ,to join us for Mass. We were all blessed as we walked this journey with her.
The three couples who attended felt the obstacle which had been keeping them apart dissolve, leaving a loving bond blessed by God and packaged especially for them.
Our retreatants each found Our Lord patiently and lovingly waiting for them. His transformative love touched and molded their hearts, bringing healing and peace where there was once pain and suffering. At the close of the retreat, their desire to leave the darkness in their lives behind and embrace the light of Christ was palpable.
Smiles were worn ear to ear, as we heard: “I have my life back.” “My burden has been taken away.” “I feel lighter.” It was a weekend of incredible blessings possibly best summarized by one retreatant: “I NEVER want to let go of God again!!”
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