Have you heard of the town, Rushville, Illinois?
I hadn’t either, until about six months ago. In fact, I had never heard of any of the towns in Western Illinois before we moved to this area in 2011.
Halfway between Macomb, home of Western Illinois University and Springfield, the capitol of Illinois, Rushville is a wide spot in the road surrounded by more wide spots in the road. Yet, for the last eleven years, a small group of women who call themselves the Sister Circle, host an area wide day-long women’s conference that draws a maximum of 500 women. I say maximum, because that’s all the school auditorium in nearby Beardstown can hold.
This is no throw-together, small town talent. This group of eight women, clad in matching bright pink jackets, spent over a year coordinating registration, worship moments, speakers and a boxed lunch in a professional manner that would rival larger conferences such as Women of Faith. The lunch was excellent, the praise team, “Divine Grace,” was superb and the organization was flawless. It was a wonderful day.
They don’t limit themselves to local speakers either. This year’s speaker was none other than Pam Tebow, missionary and mother to football star, Tim Tebow. We were strengthened and amazed by her stories of dedication to God’s Word, to standing strong for our Lord and living lives of hopeful anticipation for what God can do. Already, I have shared with several women Pam’s practical tips for holding Scripture close to our hearts. She encouraged us to write our “life verses,” verses particularly important to us, on index cards to review often through our busy days. She shared how she taught her children important verses by putting them to song.
The other speaker, Holly Gallagher, showed that a committee doesn’t have to reach into the national circles to find inspirational, qualified speakers. Holly’s sense of humor kept us laughing and her creativity kept us interested. Her skit, “The Ledger,” which pointed out ways we tend to keep score in our relationships, will haunt me for some time to come.
When you live in a rural area, it’s easy to bemoan the fact that we don’t have access to some of the great speakers and programs we hear others talk about and that a little group like ours in an out-of-the-way rural area couldn’t attract any big names. The best we can do is Christian radio – if there is a station we can access – or on youtube which is not much better than listening to a funeral in an upstairs room over remote tv. But this group of women showed me – stop complaining! Little is much in the Master’s hands and sometimes God’s talent is standing right in our midst.
God used one small group of women to parade the name of Christ in triumphal procession through west-central Illinois. They dreamed big, they planned big and they got big results.
So can I. So can you.