It was the same weekend as Mysterious Happening #1 and it was a miracle explosion.
In 2011 two young women from my church began a discussion about starting a Bible study for young adults. They met a few times, talked around the subject with the pastor, but it didn’t quite take off. In November they invited myself and another young woman into the conversation and now there were four of us. We looked up a Bible study, selected one on relationships, met once, and still it didn’t take. A little bit disheartened, we prepared to launch in January. In our preparation we ordered books, selected a venue, worked out a menu, and launched the CIBC Young Adults page (Now called The YAG) on Facebook. All of a sudden we were official! Now to see if there were others out there like us who were wanting to study as well.
The Sunday before our first meeting we met with our pastor and prayed for guidance, for attendance, for the Spirit to prepare our group. We expected five people at our launch of RELATE.
Twenty-five showed up. The seats in my living room were all taken and some of us took the floor. All our books were gone at meeting one and we made another order. At meeting two there were even more people! It was called AFTERGLOW, and we were blessed with music from Jordan and Heather Richmond, and there were no less than 40 people there. And now we need to order MORE books! Almost immediately it was too big for my living room and a couple from our church kindly donated the use of a warehouse that they have refurbished – wooden flooring, air conditioning, plush rugs and cozy seating. Our Friday night (to Saturday morning) meetings continued to grow as we got deeper into the makings of good relationships. It is the Happiest Happy Hour I’ve ever been to!
Our study is one of the Threads collection, called RELATE. In our first meeting a visiting theologian gave us an introduction to the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was quoted in our study and was, coincidentally (nah no coincidence) the subject of his own thesis. The first topic was Understanding Relationships. We came to understand there is one fundamental need every human being has in their relationships – either Security or Significance. With this foundation we came to understand more about ourselves. We discussed the revolutionary idea that relationships are NOT ABOUT US but about the purpose we were created to fulfill. The six “one anothers” of the New Testament were broken out for our exploration and the relationship armour of Colossians 3:12-14 were also chewed on for a good amount of time. We are now half-way into session two – Developing Relationships, what our stumbling blocks are and what we should aim to bring to the table.
“Not what a man is in himself as a Christian, his spirituality and piety, constitutes the basis of our community. What determines our brotherhood is what that man is by reason of Christ. Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to the both of us.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
In the short space of a month this has snowballed into much more than a Bible study. It has become a whole new community, a social circle, a support system. Young adults are coming from other churches – Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Presbyterian, Church of God, no church at all – we are coming from all walks of life – teachers, civil servants, lawyers, students, unemployment – and we find belonging with each other. Friendships are being formed, relationships are being rescued, issues are coming to a head, characters are being strengthened, and each of us is making the journey of the others rich in love and support, companionship and prayer. It seems as though 2011 was a dark year for many of us – breakups, divorces, affairs, family drama, unplanned pregnancies, unemployment, alcohol-soaked violence, baby mama/daddy drama – things that make my haircuts seem trivial. Our members have each walked out of their own individual pool of pain and into the arms of the others. Our Facebook group has over 100 members – for an island of 50,000 people that’s pretty revolutionary! In the space of a month our lives have begun to change – we have had a Bitterness Burning, a Baptism, a Birthday party, Valentines Cupcakes, we watched Courageous together and we have members calling in from other parts of the world on Skype. It is our deep-seated conviction that no one should go without encouragement. And now we are launching our missions! We are working with our church to host Nicole Mullens in two free concerts at the end of March and we are planning our first international mission as I type! Perhaps it will involve cupcakes… who knows?
None of us could have predicted how far this would go. None of us could have planned for any of the growth we have made! The mystery is in the peace that comes with being together. Now we long for Friday night and call out encouragement and help and meet with one another throughout the week. We are so blessed to have each other and to rest in our Father’s arms together. And as we are salt and light during our work weeks and in our communities, we take comfort in knowing there is salt and there is light just a street over, around the corner, at another desk, in another place, and that that person is also keeping us in prayer before our God. At the beginning and in the middle and at the end of the day it’s all about Him.
And then I had this dream… handing out cupcakes in La Ceiba. It could happen! In fact, before the end of the year I am sure it will.
Another time I will describe my own path to YAG and through YAG and how it has changed everything. If you are interested in sitting in on one of our sessions, or even joining our group study, please drop a comment and I will send you material and arrange your link into our meetings. We are setting the world on fire! I invite you to be the spark that lights the flame where you are.
OK so this didn’t begin as a YAG story. It began on the same day of the YAG and was one of the two mysterious happenings that changed the faces of my present and of my future. I invite you to pray for me that it be a change that stays with me forever.
This first mysterious happening began with an invitation. Our church, the Cayman Islands Baptist Church, hosted over 30 pastors from Honduras and Cuba for a weekend of continued education and training. It was a retreat and the visitors were hosted by church families and went to full days of training by American and Caymanian pastors (translated to Spanish) and the pastor of our sister church in Cuba (translated into English). Two of these gentlemen were hosted by my parents and I shared a few memorable meals with them, sharpening iron with iron and refining my own language skills. In church on Sunday the whole contingent treated us to a heavy baritone rendition of a well-known praise song in spanish and Pastor Randy introduced a few of them by name.
Enter Walter. Or should I say, THE WalterS. Walter Bush Snr. and Walter Bush Jr. from the First Baptist Church of La Ceiba. The name Bush hit me like a cold water drop from an a/c unit and I turned with eyes lit up to my mom. She was smiling and wiggled her eyebrows at me. After service ended and our church family gathered together to catch up I walked up to a YAGgie girlfriend of mine speaking to two vaguely familiar men. As I came into earshot I heard one of them say to her “Our roots are in Cayman but we wouldn’t have a clue as to where to look to find our family here”. On approach the older man lifted eyes identical to mine – a rare mix of hazel and green – and I said “You must be the Bushes”.
Thus began an animated conversation with my cousins. Mr. Walter Snr. is the image of what I have always imagined my grandfather to look like. My mom confirmed it to me – his height, his eyes, his aura of calm is much like her father. Walter Jr. and I spoke at length of what it is to be a Bush – the satellite ears, our unique battle as a family with compulsiveness, the addictions that our compulsiveness can drag us into, our family attachment to mutton peppers, our family recipe for our famous pepper sauce (IMAGINE!), the power of our personalities. We were invited to visit them and exchanged email addresses and parted ways with smiles deep down in our hearts.
And now the Walters have called… on the day that I dream of handing out cupcakes in La Ceiba.
This is what you have been for me and for eachother.