Gathering the Many Lead Me Back to My City

A Reflection on Gather QUE
Written by Vanessa Hoyes, from Quebec. 

I loved gathering with women from across our city last month. It was a dream fulfilled. Ever since I connected with Cathie and the vision of Gather I could see the need for this in our city, in Montreal. 

There are so many details involved in gathering the Many. We had been back and forth on a date for so long. There were even moments when I thought that it just may not happen this year. Yet I knew I had to continue pursuing this gathering. And in my heart I also had the venue - the next key detail on my mind. My heart was ready to go, let’s do this! But on the ground, even trying to share the vision of Gather right in the heart of our city felt difficult (and sometimes even misunderstood). 

For all the details though, Jesus went ahead of us and prepared a way.

Then came the weekend itself. I am a foreigner in a new land and had NO IDEA it was Grand Prix weekend. The biggest tourist weekend in our city (and right downtown where we planned on gathering).

“Do I cancel?” “Where will the women park?” “Will anyone turn up?”
“Where will they stay with all of downtown booked out?”
There were more details than I first thought.

Even when the day came I could feel the throngs and the pulse of the Grand Prix fever. If I’m really honest, it felt annoying. I was frustrated at myself for not getting this date right and I thought the heaviness I was carrying was about me.

Saturday came and we entered the day, and the solace of the gorgeous St James building, with a spiritual atmosphere that was paved by hundreds of years of prayers. Similarly, there was a natural atmosphere framed by hundreds of volunteer hours to make the space beautiful for the women that were on their way. Again, I was reminded of how Jesus went ahead of us and prepared a way.

The day was breathtaking. We heard powerful voices from across our nation and I saw new friendships form between leaders in our city. It wasn’t until the end of the day that something was clarified for me, I saw why my heart was so heavy.

The message of our feminine intrinsic worth and strength resounded loud and potent. We began praying over our city. And in those prayers, there was a moment where I felt the weight of darkness happening in our city, that very weekend.

You see, Montreal not only hosts the Grand Prix but with it comes a high price tag for the young women of our city.

"Organizations working in the field notice it each year: With the arrival of major sporting events comes an increase of sexual exploitation accompanied by a rise in demand for sexual services,” said Lise Thériault, Quebec’s minister for the status of women. Too often, Thériault said, the increased demand during Grand Prix weekend is for underaged girls” (from the Montreal Gazette)

As we prayed, I remembered all the women, young women, who were being exploited this on Saturday afternoon as were closing our gathering, a time of encouragement and empowerment. My prayers shifted to repentance on behalf of people who were doing the exploiting. All of a sudden I knew exactly we were in the right place, at the right time, on the perfect weekend.

The message of our intrinsic worth was not only for the women in the room that day, it was spoken over all the women of our city, of our province, our nation and beyond.

I felt our presence there in our city was so important that weekend.

'But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.'
(Jeremiah 29:7 ESV)

My eyes were opened a bit wider that day. I was able to see beyond what was in just in front of me on Saturday, and I was reawakened to the suffering in our country. That afternoon I found my 'why' for gathering.