For the past two years, due to COVID-19 restrictions, women of the Adriatic Union Conference (AUC) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have met virtually. Thus, a recent event became a particularly joy-filled experience for a group of Adventist women as they were able to meet face-to-face again and enjoy the camaraderie of the group.
Gathered in Zagreb, Croatia, from March 4 to 6, 2022, they came to enjoy their fourth annual weekend of spiritual encouragement. The theme for the weekend was “Praying with the Women in the Bible,” and the guest speaker was Trans-European Division women’s ministries director Karen Holford, also an author and family therapist.
As the seminar started on Friday afternoon, Holford guided the women through a sequence of creative prayers inspired by the story of the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment.
On Saturday (Sabbath) morning, Holford delivered a message entitled “The Gift of Kindness,” pointing out that kind people have a double portion of the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone in their bodies. “It is a hormone that slows down the aging process,” she said. Kind people also show 23 percent less of the stress hormone cortisol, she explained.
Holford emphasized that when we are kind to others it reduces the amount of conflict in relationships. “In some cases, the effects of kindness can be better than taking medication or undergoing therapy,” she said. Additionally, she highlighted that the kindness we share with others often returns in different ways, bringing us joy and blessings. “Kindness flows into our lives from the heart of God,” she said, quoting 1 John 4:19, where the apostle wrote, “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
On Sunday, AUC president Drago Mojzeš shared his impressions of several significant women who had inspired his life. This was followed with Holford guiding participants through the stories of several women from the Bible and linking them to prayers of praise, peace, and healing. Although these stories are familiar, Holford found new treasures to share, including the experience of the Samaritan woman in John 4; Hagar and the God who sees us, from Genesis 16 and 21; and the life of Naomi in the book of Ruth.
“All these stories give insights into the real-life problems faced by these women and how they resolved their challenges through prayer and faith in God,” Holford emphasized.
Feedback from women was overwhelmingly positive. “What a difference it makes when you explore the stories of women in the Bible with a female family therapist, instead of a male theologian,” a young participant candidly said.
Women participants emphasized that they felt blessed and grateful for being part of the event. Several said, “Thank you for the encouragement we received.”