TN Lay Leader Reflects on General Conference 2016

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Holly Neal

God sightings from those inside the church and outside Portland

Beginning on the first day I arrived God showed up and out. I was greeted at the airport by faithful disciples that were getting off their shift and showed extravagant hospitality. This couple helped us with our luggage, guided us on how to use the rail and even accompanied us to our hotel.

Prayer beads were given to all General Conference delegates.
Prayer beads were given to all General Conference delegates.

We had many opportunities to pray in small groups as we shared our stories. God put Jim & Carol in my life as they quietly sat in the gallery praying each day for the conference and especially for me the morning of my part in the laity address.

I heard God speaking to my spirit during mornings I spent in the Upper Room prayer space filled with calming prayer reminders from bowls filled with water to remember our baptism to an area with sand to remind us we came from the earth. As I let the sand filter through my fingers I felt the calming presence of Jesus. There were other stations with a water feature, one with twinkling lights and beautiful banners depicting the Portland mountains. Plus two huge prayer labyrinths where I confessed my sin before entering and then listening for God’s voice in each turn made as I walked to the center. Once there I fell to my knees and worshipped Jesus.

Each day we prayed with our prayer beads plus during some of the hard decisions I found myself praying using the beads reminding me of Jesus’ presence.

Other encounters outside the space was a young man sharing street smarts with me and the people that were there to greet us each morning by checking our bags to keep us safe. They greeted us by name this last week and were there as we left wishing us safe travels home and many of us giving them hugs and blessing them in Jesus name.

Therefore I go back to my local church, my district and conference changed and bearing witness that Jesus loves me. That Jesus loves His people that are called United Methodist. But even more convicted then ever to tell and show those outside the walls of our church the Good News that Jesus loves them.