‘Accelerate’ is a training event for women, held three times in 2012, with more planned for 2013. Lesley Cutts and Jenny Priestley, the event co-ordinators, speak about the inspiration behind it.
IN APRIL, July and December 2012, women from all around the country, different ages, different backgrounds, met together in Coventry, Sheffield, London and Northampton. Why? What do these women have in common?
Accelerate is a new venture of the Jesus Fellowship, aimed at training and empowering women. There are no ‘entry requirements’ (apart from being female!) The days usually include worship, prayer, lots of food, fellowship and workshops on a range of topics.
“Through Accelerate, we have gained confidence in who we are,” says Lesley. “We’ve seen new initiatives spring up, like Bible study groups led by older women. A new generation of inspired and motivated women have emerged and our mind-sets are changing.”
“I wanted to see the different generations of women coming together and benefiting from one another,” explains Jenny, “To see the older generation gaining from the younger’s enthusiasm and energy. Also, to see the younger generation grow to appreciate the wisdom and insight the older generation can offer them; something that would continue after the events. The start of an organic movement of healthy relationships.”
The start of an organic movement of healthy relationships
She continues: “A lot of women don’t realise their potential. With Accelerate, I hoped they would see how many, many wonderful things they can do. I longed for us to fall in love with God again and be inspired to give more for Jesus and His kingdom.”
“We must always encourage one another to ask, ‘what does God want of me?’ We need to help each other first to listen to God and then to find a way to do what He is asking, so that His fullness can be poured out through us. Women are intuitive and we have to use this intuition to find God’s way for our lives.”
“As women we need the confidence to say ‘yes’ to what God asks.” says Lesley, “We need to be endorsed by others too, to know our way of caring and loving is God’s way and develop it as a ministry. The thing bubbling in the bottom of our hearts needs to be brought to the surface and developed.
“The foundation for us finding our way in God is developing our relationship with God and part of the Accelerate programme has been geared around that. This includes learning the ‘how tos’ of prayer and contemplation.
“I believe walking with God is simple. It’s about focusing on a contented life in God, finding humility and yielding to God; it is our secret dealings with Him that lay the foundations for who we are and create a big heart in us. It’s when we embrace these things that we are able to bring freedom to others.
Wholeness in us brings with it an ability to love and be courageous
“It’s impossible for the Holy Spirit’s life to flow out to others if things in us are blocking the way – hurts and a bad self-image. At Accelerate a lot inspires confidence; life inspires life; poured out lives inspire poured out lives.”
“We also need to give time for relationships across the church and freshly appreciate each other. Accelerate has been a tool for this and a platform for us, as women, to share our richness in God. Energy inspires energy; confidence inspires confidence; life inspires life; poured out lives inspire poured out lives.”
Jenny adds: “Accelerate brought the generations together and provided a space for us to forge new relationships. I think it brought out some hidden gifts in people and stretched others in new ways. We got to hear some incredibly rich inspiration from people who have never had the opportunity to share it before. Suddenly there was a way for them to express what had been forming in their souls.”
What’s the vision for the future?
Lesley wants women to “find a greater measure of healing and confidence” and to be those who “love people who are not easy to love”. She adds: “I want to see women growing in wisdom and maturity because our hearts are in touch with God. Our freedom will be attractive to others; we will be good at evangelism, caring, able to go into any situation and love as Jesus loves. We can’t be back row women or shrink into the background! Wholeness in us brings with it an ability to love and be courageous.”
“My vision for women is much the same as my vision for the men and the kids” says Jenny, “To live revived, to live loving God and to just get on with loving people. Pretty simple, really.”