By Kim Frolander, Vineyard Missions Team Writer
It was another magnificent meeting of as many missions and church-planting like-minded people as one Colorado mountain retreat center could hold. If you were not on site with us, we hope you caught at least the main worship and speaking sessions on the live feed. (You can still watch them here: www.vineyardmissions.org/livestream.)
Outside of what was shown on the live feed, we had an optional 7:00 a.m. Cross-Fit workout and intercessors waking up early to pray for missions and church planting efforts worldwide. Regional leaders provided updates of the work going on around the globe that brought the room to laughter and tears. Mark Walker and the Learning Community Team led a day-long workshop for new partnership leaders on Monday. There were spiritual direction appointments, coaching sessions, and individual personal prayer slots. Hikes with old and new friends or in solitude refreshed missional souls. And then there were meals. Oh, so many meals. Delicious food and dessert options. And terrific company around the tables.
Doing ministry shoulder-to-shoulder all the way around the globe with men and women of integrity who are going after the Kingdom of God and then sitting down to a long meal together at this annual gathering offers opportunities to share stories of the past year, and that time and attention encourage and uplifts for the next year.
Michael Gatlin of Multiply Vineyard said, “I don’t even know how long I’ve been coming to the MLM. Maybe six or seven years. So many things keep me coming back. So many of us lead these worship and prayer ministry times at home. It is refreshing to come together to experience God and receive and give simultaneously. Like last night (day 1) hearing Mark (Fields) bare his soul. Wow! And the ministry time was so powerful!”
Vicki Wehmeyer, a veteran Spiritual Director at the MLM, said, “We were missionaries for ten years, and I enjoy offering spiritual direction to other missions-minded people - the one-on-one with people and seeing God meet the person in the place where God is really present with the person.”
First-time attendee and second-time church planter Rocio Aviles with La Vina Multiplica after only 15 hours on campus was asked about her first impressions. “The arrival and nature is beautiful. It reminds me of God, and I feel Him hug me and say to me, ‘I am.’ The worship last night - the Holy Spirit was here and His power was great!”
One of our worship leaders for the week was Anabeth Morgan, Worship Pastor of Mile High Vineyard. She said the thing she looks forward to each year is “the way the room is hungry for God’s presence and willing to go where He leads. As a worship leader, that makes my job effortless.”
Correy Garris, also from of Mile High Vineyard, gave us his favorite part from the stage during a plug for his multi-site specialty dinner. “The thing that stands out to me for the last four years (that I’ve been coming) is experiencing the hunger to grow and learn that is present with all of us.”
The MLM is a place where it is not only safe but beneficial to let your guts hang out, to share triumphs and failures, fears and did-that-really-just-happen-in-my-partnership questions,” because someone else here has experienced what you are going through and can speak life and pray for healing or celebrate with you.
Jason Smith of Smoky Hill Vineyard in Aurora, Colorado attended with a group of young leaders-in-training at Heroic Leadership Institute (HLI). He said, “The individualized prayer time was really impactful.” Later in the week, Jason responded to a prophetic word about a young leader having a role to play. He joined the host on the stage, gave a word about God wanting to heal a rotator cuff, and then prayed for a leader a couple of times until her shoulder stopped popping as she moved.
Sitting next to Jason, Jake Chaffin from Urbana Vineyard also enrolled in HLI, said, “It is awesome to see so many influential leaders in one place, and it is inspiring!”
“The thing I looked forward to the most at the MLM was the presence of the Lord,” said Craig Goodman, long time “vineyardite” who had not been to an MLM in a long time. He shrugged. “It is the Vineyard. What’s great is the energy level and the young people who are here. It is good to see the young people now taking up their role.”
Glenn Schroder of Portland Vineyard says the thing he looks forward to the most is “seeing old friends and hearing good stories.”
Rick Coffin, a long-time Vineyard leader and missionary who now lives in Chicago, looks forward to attending the annual MLM. He said, “Every year I end up connecting with old and new friends who speak into exactly what’s going on in my life at that time!”
Margaret Ortiz attended the MLM as an intercessor and prayer minister. She offered several testimonies of her experience. “During (prayer) sessions I saw many miracles. One young man had had knee surgery and was in pain. He was healed and later went hiking.” She continued, “and I was delivered from extreme back pain that had been present for 61 years. I assumed it was from child abuse,” she said. “Today I feel one hundred percent! I was able to worship at one hundred percent with no pain for perhaps the first time in my life.” Then she went on with a wide grin. “And last year I was healed of the effects of seizures and strokes! This (healing) is a constant testimony to my unbelieving husband. I have been restored to how God created me to be!”
Tim Mengler of VCC Crystal Lake in Illinois summed up the 2017 MLM experience well with his assessment of the thing he looks forward to the most each year, “I love the deep richness of the presence of God here.”
God provides individualized experiences that enrich and refresh Vineyard USA’s missional workers for the coming year. There seems to be a sharing of experiences and knowledge and a unique ability to honor one another’s efforts and grieve with our failings that takes place here like at no other conference. We look forward to seeing our missions leaders again next year at the Missional Leaders Meeting.