A Message from Cesli Vaccaro
I am eagerly anticipating this July as we gather together to worship, pray and learn together in God's healing Presence! I first attended a PCM in 1990 at the recommendation of some close friends who had attended the previous year. They knew of my love for God (and of my brokenness!) and urged me to come with them to Wheaton. "You will love it," they said. I had been to literally hundreds of Christian conferences/retreats, so I did not think this could be much different... I was wrong!
Allow me to put this in context. I became a Christian at a neighborhood Good News Club as a four year old. I grew up actively involved in an Evangelical Mennonite Church in Central Illinois, which emphasized knowing God's Word and serving people in need. I evangelized, led Bible studies, discipled new believers and served on mission teams. After high school graduation, I attended Taylor University, continued in leadership capacities, and worked very hard in school, sports and ministry. I was blessed to have been mentored by godly Christian teachers like Mark Cosgrove and Jay Kesler. Jill Briscoe met me while she was speaking at Taylor and invited me to work with her in the Women's Ministry at Elmbrook Church in Wisconsin. While there, I also worked with Dr. John Mackett of Milwaukee in the Children's Ministry. What an experience to grow in my faith and to serve beside such faithful followers of Christ!
Next, I went to graduate school at Azusa Pacific University in California, where I earned a Master's degree in Human Resource Development and met Lisa Hayes, now a longtime friend and prayer partner. After graduating, I went to work at the Evangelical Mennonite denominational headquarters, establishing Women's Ministries in the local churches and responding to human concerns like hunger, homelessness and natural disasters. That was another great challenge for me. I took advantage of many great opportunities and served the Lord with every bit of strength I could muster, but I had little awareness that my drivenness was out of my own pain. I was burning out. That is when I attended my first PCM!
I had listened to countless speakers and teachers before, but the way Leanne explained incarnational reality was news to me! The sacraments, the prayers for healing and the palpable presence of God were like nothing I had witnessed before! Even though I had not experienced the gifts of the Holy Spirit working like this, nor the importance of the sacraments, I did recognize God's holy Presence and felt at home. It was here that I began to receive the unconditional love of my heavenly Father. I began a new journey of "becoming" and continue to learn how to integrate the doing and being parts of me in a Christlike way.
I pray with great expectation for what I know God will do in the hearts and lives of His people!