Last weekend I traveled to Las Vegas (New Mexico, not Nevada), to speak at a women’s retreat at Calvary Chapel Las Vegas for my friend Jeneane Herrera. While smaller in nature (the city’s population is around the same size as our church congregation), Las Vegas has a history rich with famous names and places.
Established in 1835, 70 years before the more popular Las Vegas, NV, the town was originally laid out in the traditional Spanish colonial style with a central plaza, home to the “Belle of the Southwest,” Plaza Hotel, and surrounded by buildings which would serve as defense if they were under attack from enemies. The arrival of the railroad in 1879 brought with it some notorious characters like Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Wyatt Earp, and dentist Doc Holliday.
While I didn’t meet any outlaws in my short time there, I was welcomed by a loving group of about 100 women who participated in “Women Under Construction.” Their mascot was Rosie the Riveter–who I love (just ask to see my Rosie iPhone cover)–and their goal was to teach women how to build their lives to support their friends and families around them, and to learn to walk with God even in the tough times. I taught on trials and temptations, both from James 1.
I also taught these lessons in 2010–right after my recovery from cancer. Teaching them again this weekend brought back memories: the difficulty in a season of trials and temptations and learning how to tell the difference between the two, but persevering through both. All of which I could see in the faces of the ladies at the retreat.
They were attentive to the messages, craving to learn the same secrets I had learned about making it through the trials and temptations. By the end of the day, there was a different light about them, and their faces shone with their desire to seek Christ in the hard times. Ladies were saved and some rededicated their lives. It’s always a work of the Spirit when your own experience can encourage someone else to “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil.3:14).
So while I didn’t have a run-in with an outlaw or get to see the bright lights of Nevada, I got to see a light show of my own, in the hearts and lives of the women of the historic town of Las Vegas, New Mexico.