Better Together | From Isolation to Community: Mending the Body

Krista Heide, May 8, 2024, 9:04 PM

I embarked on the Better Together conference with openness and curiosity. How would God move at a conference designed to bring together under-represented Vineyard pastors and leaders? How did I fit into this?

Aside from the 5 days of  incredible multi-ethnic worship, rich theological and inspirational teachings, and opportunities to make and deepen friendships- as I reflect on all that transpired, I notice a theme. Woven throughout our experiences, there was a repetitive rhythm: a tender,  personal encounter by the Spirit that began to draw individuals out of isolation and into beloved community. A mending of our communal body.

For example, Joyce Rees had her hearing healed! An incredible personal gift from the Spirit that touched an area of her vulnerability - but a gift that also began to open new channels of communication and excitement between Vineyard Canada and Vineyard USA around the way God moves when we come together. Niels Jeyasegara received two words in prayer that were exactly the words he had spoken over his new community in Ottawa, "Welcome Home." Specific personal words, but ones that invited him, as in immigrant, into a place of deeper belonging.

For me, this rhythm came through a word I received in ministry time.

After a personal season that resembled a sort of seclusion or hibernation, and as a woman in ministry who has hit her share of bumps and snags along the road, one morning I went up to the front to lay my heart and tears on the altar. A woman came to pray over me. After some time she shared that she saw an image of a bird with clipped wings, but that God was tenderly holding this bird, and restoring flight feathers that would go even further than the past ones. When she shared this, I sat up - stunned. This exact image was a painting I had created during worship at Winnipeg Centre Vineyard 8 years ago. I had it on my phone and I pulled it up to show her. It was such a personal word. God saw me. Was holding me, mending and restoring.

Two nights later, our Canadian crew went out for dinner with Ted Kim, pastor of Evanston Vineyard near Chicago. We were sharing with him about how we noticed that the Indigenous peoples were missing at this gathering, and spoke of our longing for deeper work towards truth and reconciliation. He sadly agreed that the Indigenous peoples were currently not very present in VUSA, but noted that things were stirring as someone from his church was setting out to church plant at the White Earth Reserve in Minnesota. And in that moment I remembered - 8 years ago when I had painted that image of the bird at WCV, a group of people had driven up from a reserve in the states, and I had gifted them this painting. I quickly texted Andy Wood to ask him if he remembered where those people had been from, and he texted me back: White Earth Reserve.


I pulled up the image on my phone to show the group, and we marveled at the words I had written 8 years ago:

An image of God reattaching flight feathers to a bird that has been wounded, damaged and limited. A picture of God restoring hope, freedom, and new potential.
Also a picture of reattaching individual feathers to a body. We can fly farther when we are connected together.
This image that I had completely forgotten about had been brought to my mind 2 days prior as what had seemed to be a personal gift from God. But now, even further, it was an image that represented a deeper invitation - towards a restored, reconciled communal body of Christ,  including our Indigenous Peoples.

God is at work. In both tender and personal touches, and in larger strategic initiatives, a mending is taking place. We say yes, Lord. More, Lord.  Make us better, together.