In February 2015, Sanctuary//Ministry to Ministry Wives officially launched with their first retreat. Approximately 20 women from all walks of ministry, backgrounds, and generations gathered in Tulsa, Oklahoma for two nights and two days of respite.
A chance to breathe.
A place to be healed.
An opportunity to connect.
From the very beginning, the heart of our founder, Bridgette Tomlin, has beat in one rhythm and that simply was for the redefinition of what the term 'sanctuary' represents. While for much of the world, a sanctuary typically represents a place where an individual can walk in broken and walk away healed, for the ministry wife, a sanctuary can often represent hurt, toil, neglect, and inadequacy. It was for this cause that Bridgette began asking God to give her a vision for what could be a turning of the tide for women who serve alongside their husbands in ministry.
The conversation for an invitation to this never-before-seen event often went a little like this:
"This is Bridgette Tomlin. I know you don't know me very well but the Lord has put you on my heart and I wanted to give you a call to visit with you about something I'm putting together for next February."
"As you may know, my husband and I have been traveling in full-time evangelistic work for 18 years now and for quite some time my heart has been burdened for ministry wives. It wasn't until only recently that I felt the release from the Lord to actually do something with this burden. He has given me the opportunity to reach out to women who are serving in ministry as I have seen that many women serving in this capacity are rarely given an opportunity to actually receive ministry. They are continually being poured out and most feel rather alienated as they struggle to find close friends and people they can trust. I have recently put together a new ministry called Sanctuary and am launching our first retreat in February. Every guest will receive their own private room and bath in our group's private lodge in Tulsa. None of our guests will know the other guests invited so you'll be walking in alone, but I feel confident that God is putting together a unique, divinely ordained guest list and I would love to have you come and be a part of this opportunity to completely relax, sleep, eat, breathe, connect, and hear from God in prayer."
"Wow. Hmmm...I don't know if I can get away. It's practically impossible for me to put something on the calendar just for me."
"I know. That's why we are launching this deliberately for people like yourself. If you will agree with me in prayer, I have faith to believe that God will open the door for you to join us. I know it's out of your comfort zone but I am certain that you won't regret taking this risk."
"I can't believe you thought of me, Bridgette. I've needed something like this for a very long time. Wow. Let me talk to my husband and see what I can work out. Thank you so very much."
Acknowledging and accepting the invitation to attend a Sanctuary retreat is a choice to step over the misguided hunch that "something must be wrong with me if I feel like I need to get away". Taking the first step toward clearing the calendar and putting yourself on the priority list is the ultimate measure of self-awareness. If anything, it's the choice to avoid the graveyard of ministry wives who neglected the warning signs on the fast track to spiritual, mental, physical and relational burnout.
Over these next few weeks we will be sharing testimonies from our first retreat last year to give you an idea of what you can expect when you make that move toward proactive self-care. Registration for the very limited space will open on Monday, September 12 for our fall retreat, currently scheduled for November 10-12, 2016 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Because of our generous ministry partners through Chresten Tomlin Ministries, Sanctuary is offering this two-night, two-day retreat with premier accommodations, catering, and ministry at a reduced rate of only $225 per person. Read more on our featured page about this unique opportunity. But first, hear from one of our previous guests about her personal experience last year.
"My first thought when I received the invitation to a ministry wives retreat was, "Who's got time for a retreat? It's sounds nice, but I'm way too busy for that." With persuasion, an accommodating husband, and knowing if Bridgette Tomlin was leading this, it had to be worth my time, I forged ahead and determined to attend. Wow! An absolutely gorgeous venue, yummy food, my own room to just sit and stare, and the best part, my soul and spirit now were refreshed and renewed. The common bond draws you in to those you do not know. The differences in their life situations weaves your hearts together like none other. I now look back on it as the best weekend ever!!"