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Hillsong: Women in mission

Premier presenter Rachel Matthews speaks with Hillsong founder Bobbie Houston about the mission behind the Colour Conference and how the ministry has been supporting women around the world during lockdown

RACHEL: The Sisterhood is this incredible group of sisters across the world who come together at the Hillsong Colour Conference. We haven't been able to get together in the same way this year, but my sense is you would still be hearing from God and your call for women. What have you heard, what is he calling us to do next?

BOBBIE: To be honest, I don’t think our mandate or our mission has changed in this season. It's just heightened and amplified. There's something very, very powerful and wonderful about the feminine heart and the feminine heart when she is believed in. And when she's encouraged to make a difference in life. And so I don't think any of that has changed, I think it just looks different at the moment. Amongst many things, women are fabulous prayer warriors. This world needs that collective prayer going up that God will have his way upon nations and upon leaders. We're living in quite a politically charged world at the moment so I think we need to be praying for wisdom for those who govern all the nations of the earth. This world needs the kiss of heaven. It needs the love of God, it needs this touch and we as sisterhood are well placed to share that love.

RACHEL: Hillsong is now in almost 30 countries around the world. Every country has been hit so differently, how has this affected your ability to pastor the churches around the world that you are connected with?

BOBBIE: We have amazing teams and they're responsible for the patch of ground that they're in. In our own church in Australia, our goal was that we could fine tune everything and we had to postpone a lot of things and focus on other areas where there was more need. At one point we counted that we had made around 73,000 pastoral calls to make sure that people were actually okay. Employment plummeted, people were losing their jobs, people were fearful. And that looks different all around the world. So a core part of our church leadership has gone into a similar mode of caring for the people and building community in an isolated world. Thank God for Zoom because while it’s still challenging working out how to navigate this ongoing situation, we know that we are connecting with people online in a way we wouldn’t be in a physical church building.

For a long time, we've had an online campus and online so we're not unfamiliar with that territory. But one of the challenges of online church is not just putting a service up but creating community around it. That's actually the challenge so that people will feel connected and feel planted and grounded. And I think when things shift back to normal, all of us are going to have to learn bring in some new habits. We have to realise that Church isn’t necessarily just all of us just being under one roof.

RACHEL: We really are living in difficult times, what do you do in those days when you're just not having your best day or when you're a little bit overwhelmed by the world that we live in? What do you do as a woman of faith to counteract those difficult days?

BOBBIE: We all face difficulties no matter where we are in our faith or what platforms we have. Those of us in the public eye are definitely not a super breed of human beings! It's not a sin to be weary, and it's not a sin to be tired. COVID-19 is having an unconscious pressure on people. There is uncertainty about life, employment and everything. I'm 63 so I've been walking this journey for a long time and I’ve learned to take a deep breath and look up. I say this with humility, but since I met Christ, I have learned to look up first.

A lot of people look sideways, they will call other people and there's nothing inherently wrong with that because yes, we're here for one another, but not at the expense of looking heavenward first. This is a discipline, even when you don't feel it, to actually open the Word of God and to find scripture and to find so that your heart can be ministered to. It's really important to remind yourself of who you are in Christ. It’s also important to eat well, I know that when I don’t, I feel it in my soul! I also take time to exercise and I know that's not easy for people who have been in lockdown or shielding. But if you can, I think that's important for your wellbeing. If you can go for walk or take a ride on a bicycle and listen to something that will feed your soul, you’ll feel better for it.

Bobbie Houston and husband Brian are the founders of Hillsong Church. Founded in Sydney, Australia in 1983, Hillsong now has churches in city centres in 28 countries around the world. The church has an average global attendance of 150,000 weekly.

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