Almost 500 women from our churches all across Nigeria converged in the ancient city of Ibadan, capital of Oyo State, from the 29th to the 31st of May 2014 for the 2nd edition of the National Women’s Retreat of the ICOC.
Elderly mothers, Teenagers, Campus students, Singles and Married; no one was left out. This year’s attendance was a huge leap from our last retreat held at ASCON, Badagry in 2012. There was standing room only as we came together at the Functions Hall of the Jogor Events Centre on the first day of the retreat. We began with a wonderful time of praise and worship, led by the Lagos choir. Mrs Rolayo Ogbonnaya then gave the welcome address and we all journeyed down memory lane as some sisters shared of the things they had learned at our last retreat two years ago and how they had put these things into practice and experienced the blessings of God in their homes, marriages and personal lives. The highlight of the evening was the colourful opening ceremony by the Ibadan church. We were treated to the full swing of Yoruba traditional dance and drumbeat. It was precise and energetic – a beautiful display of culture infused with an interesting documentary of the city of Ibadan. Our host, Mrs Chinyere Ajadi, took us on tour and we saw it all, from the first television station in West Africa to the making of the famous Yoruba tribal marks!
The second day of the retreat was one of inspiring classes from the word of God. We began the day with a time of worship led by the South- West choir. Thereafter we listened with rapt attention to the opening message by Mrs Biola Ojo titled “In Awe of God”. Indeed we were in awe of our great God. We were drawn to the majesty and power and purpose and love of God through all that we behold and all that we go through as women. Everyone was lifted in spirit.
The next class was titled “Radiant for all Seasons”. It was a split class with 3 subtitles. ‘Radiant through the Years” was taught by Mrs Ovota Iyamu and Mrs Belema Osibodu. God gave us renewed dreams as we learned that we can keep our passion for God alive even as we advance in age and changing life circumstances.
“Radiant in Changing Times was taught by Mrs Femi Okodugha and Miss Yinka Adekeye. God reminded us that He is our loving Father even when it doesn’t feel like love. We can embrace our life challenges with faith, hold on to Him through stormy times and come through victorious.
Mrs Weyinmi Igbinoba and Mrs Chinye Roberts taught, “Spreading the Glow”. God called us to our divine responsibility of raising the next generation for Him, of passing on the faith to our children; both physical and spiritual. There was a time of response and prayer after each class.
After lunch, we listened to the 3rd class for the day titled “Fountain of Faith”. It was also a split class. The first subtitle was “Fountain of Strength.” It was taught by Mrs Stella Emeka and Mrs Stella Echa. Through this gutsy message God called us to renew our passion for lost women all around us. As the speakers shared their experiences on the mission field, we were reminded of how God had salvaged us and how we must salvage others.
Mrs Titi George and Mrs Omobola Abolarinwa taught the second subtitle, “Fountain of Wisdom.” God directed us to the treasure of wisdom that we have in Christ and His word. He called us to renew our love and depth in the Scriptures. He showed us the example of women in the Bible who exhibited godly and worldly wisdom and the outcome of their lives.
It wasn’t all classes though! We watched an interesting drama staged by the Ibadan sisters, a lovely Yoruba song and dance by the Ilorin sisters and a very funny yet soul-searching mime by the Abuja sisters. We rounded off the day with a”Thank God it’s Friday!” party and fun time. There was music, small chops, drinks and dance, dance! Each church and region came on stage to display their dancing skills. There was Soul-train, Azonto, Old School, New School, you name it. We laughed till we ached! It was great to let off steam and have fun as sisters in the Lord.
On the third and final day of the retreat, we had a great time of worship led by the South-south choir, followed by a session of prayers and intercession led by Mrs Abigail Ereola. And then we listened to the much-awaited keynote address for the retreat titled “ANCHORED.” It was delivered by Mrs Rolayo Ogbonnaya. This was an unforgettable message. We learned that God holds us and anchors us for sure and for all time. He anchors us through the Cross of Jesus. He anchors us by the Holy Spirit and He anchors us through His amazing grace. His word sank deep in our hearts as we also watched movie clips that made it real and clear.
All too soon it was time to go home. With held hands, prayers and hugs, we were dismissed till 2016 when we hope to meet again.
As one sister put it, times like these are treasures to be cherished. As we come down from the “Mount of Transfiguration” at Ibadan, let us be renewed in our faith. We have so much to give. God has anchored our souls and holds us fast. Nothing can take us from the grasp of His love. God has us. We have Him. And because of this – we have everything.