On 2nd December 2022, approximately 40 women accompanied by a few family members descended upon the Hayes Christian Conference Centre at Derbyshire for a weekend-long Conference. It was the 3rd Annual Women Arise & Pray Conference organised by The Esther’s of Now and MAUK, and the first one conducted in person. Most of the ladies had never met in person but by the end of the Conference, there was no doubt that many had made lifelong friends. This is a short account of how the 2022 Conference panned out and a look at our plans for 2023.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you like lambs among wolves…” Jesus (Luke 10: 2)
YWH has been making his presence known to his people for centuries before and will continue to do so in the ages still to come. Whether it was through a burning bush to Moses (Exodus 3:4-8), an angel that wrestled with Jacob throughout the night (Genesis 32), or his covering hand over Isiah as the prophet stood in the cleft of a rock (Exodus 33:22), his call had always been distinctive. And it was one such call that prompted Conference Lead and head of the Esther’s of Now, Sereima Tawake, to organise the Women Arise & Pray Conference.
Her marching orders since 2020 was to mobilise the women in our community to stand for their faith. After starting the Esther’s of Now bible study and first conference, her challenge was then to get the first in-person gathering organised. She, along with ten other women in the working group, got to work to deliver on this call.
This call reached forty-three women around the UK. From Inverness, Scotland to Bovington, Dorset; the women arrived with expectancy to receive the word of God and ready to give their all. And the word of God they heard was a resounding reminder of the call on all their lives. It started with Talatala Manoa Ratubalavu who opened the conference on Friday evening with the message of sharing ones calling and maintaining a teachable spirit while doing so. He referenced three stories in the bible from John 4:1-42, John 8:1-11 and Luke 11: 1-10.
The Saturday prayer breakfast was led by Mrs Bower who challenged the ladies to go deeper in the word as our God is not a surface God. She also reminded the ladies to fight carnality, referencing the story of Joseph in the bible when his cloak was removed. Josephs beautiful coat of many colours had to be taken away so that Joseph would realise that it wasn’t the coat that set him apart but the calling of God that did.
"Convictions are worthless unless it is converted to the conversion of character. E dodonu me laurai na veisau. Ke teri laurai na veisau e dua na ka e leqa!” - Talatala Penaia Rokotuisawa
Dr. Rachel Ita then took over the midday session and urged the ladies to wake from slumber and Arise. “First things first,” she said as she went around the room giving acorns to us, “For an acorn to grow, the roots must come first. Our roots in Him must be deep and many times that means dying to self.” She then went on to explain about the lifecycle of an acorn that even when its life is done it still becomes a habitat capable of providing for an ecosystem in itself. And Christians, she said, are meant to leave imprints once our work here is done. Imprints that our families, communities and later generations can find safety in knowing that the one who left them had led an exemplary life based on Christ.
Talatala Penaia Rokotuisawa led sessions on Covenant keeping and also the afternoon Session. His message on keeping the marriage covenant was profound and it warrants an entire weekend program alone due to the importance and significance of God's plan for marriage. Radini Talatala and their daughter Ana were an invaluable part of the worship team and everyone was blessed by their presence.
The other sessional leaders were Audrey Hicks who led a session on a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, Sereana Naulivou on Financial wisdom and Sereima Tawake on Positive affirmations. The day ended with a quiz which was won by our children and the evening was jam-packed with worship, testimonies and an item from our children’s ministry team.
The marching orders
“No one who puts his hand on the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God…”
Jesus (Luke 9: 62)
The final session on Sunday was led by Talatala Penaia Rokotuisawa and Pastor Jerry Samuels who had flown in from Canada to join the Conference. It was clear that the Spirit of God was moving throughout the conference as the ladies were again challenged to serve God diligently. Pastor Samuels spoke of the cost of serving God. As he pranced around the room delivering the challenge he looked into the audience and told the ladies, “For God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten son. That was how much he valued us. Now how much do you value God? I tell you if you love God- every day you pay.”
The ladies were challenged to go out and put everything they had learned during the conference into practice. The Conference had rekindled the fire of faith and from the success of this in-person Conference, plans are now underway for the fourth Conference on Friday the 1st of December to Sunday the 3rd of December 2023.
We are excited to organise the Conference as we have seen the way women have come together to celebrate their faith. We have seen how it builds bridges and forges friendships and we know that many lives in our community will be touched as a result of this.
The Marching orders are not for the weak or undecided. It is for those who are ready to Arise! For those women who joined us in Derbyshire last year, we thank you and your families for your sacrifice. We also owe a deep gratitude to the speakers who spoke the word of God to us and to the sessional leaders who put the word in perspective. To our head who heeded the call, sister Ima- Vinaka vakalevu na yalo dina. And finally to the working group, thank you for your commitment to making this happen.
on behalf of the Committee and Trustee of MAUK
1. What’s included in the cost?
A self-contained room comprising either a single, two double beds, or a double and a single bed. The room is fully fitted with towels, bedding, a hair dryer, a desk light, and a study space. There are ironing facilities on-site and coffee/tea-making machines and water dispensers all throughout the venue. The use of this is free of charge together with the meals in the dining room. A full breakfast, lunch and dinner are also included in the cost.
2. What do I do if I can’t afford the cost?
Get in touch with conference organiser Sereima Tawake. If God has put it in your heart to attend this year’s conference then he will make a way for you to do so. We are always here to help.
3. Are there any payment options available?
Yes. You can start to make regular deposits to us in the next coming months instead of having to make one lump sum in November. Get in touch with us to discuss setting up a standing order and we will work with you to keep track of payments.
4. This all sounds good, but I want to be involved in a bigger way!
We are always looking for sisters who can be part of our working groups. If it's not for this conference then it could be for other projects we have lined up throughout the year. You never know, your skill or talent might just be what we need.