Christabel Lo had recently stepped into a leadership role with iEsther, a ministry of the International Church of Shanghai for expatriate businesswomen living in China, and was looking for material to use to kick off the group’s 2018 theme, “Arise & Shine.”
By chance she discovered The 210 Project while attending a Halftime leadership summit. Christabel was intrigued. The content focused on life purpose, a topic that could help the women align their works and calling.
“It’s easy to lose sight of why you’re here,” says Christabel, referring to the local lightening-paced, crowded environment. “Shanghai can be overwhelming. It is like New York City on steroids.”
Professional demands mean that many of iEsther’s 55+ members might not always attend each session. Nevertheless, the group agreed to dedicate meetings over the next four months to The 210 Project, with the understanding that they could complete material on their own if their work prevented them from attending one of the sessions.
The decision was timely for the women in the group.
The Project Brought Purpose Into Focus
“The 210 Project came at a time in my life when I was at one of my lowest and most frustrating points,” said a participant named Shauna. “The things I’d strived to accomplish or planned on doing were all basically meaningless. I’d lost the zeal for life in ways I believe only God understood.” The 210 Project book and group sessions, she says, helped guide her through that very dark valley.
Two defining moments gave her clarity. “I remember reading the words of C.S. Lewis on page 52, combined with the powerful message that followed his quote,” she says. “Those words were the turning point of my thoughts. I was ready to allow the process to work in me.” The second milestone, she says, came during the solo retreat. During that time, she was able to see how she had begun paying attention to thoughts and the promptings God was using to guide her towards finding her gifts and passion. The project had changed her perspective. “I’m still on this journey,” says Shauna. “But the passage from Ephesians 2:10 has become a rudder for my life and I’m thankful.”
Shauna’s experience, says Christabel, was not atypical among the iEsther group. One women rekindled a passion for working with intellectually-challenged children. Christabel herself used the experience in her transition into retirement. The individual Exploring Your Natural God-Given Strengths profile data, one of the Online Interactive Projects completed by each participant, played a key role. “I’m usually not a fan of assessments,” says Christabel. “But when I shared key data from my report with the other ladies, they laughed because it was so accurate.”
The Project’s Biggest Challenges and the Biggest Impact
While at first there were a few internet hiccups in getting individual strengths reports delivered right away to participants, all of the ladies received their results over the course of the study and were able to apply the data.
And one other challenge became a positive. Because of time constraints, the group opted for a final group retreat during the final session at their meeting location rather than individual solo retreats. “We allowed 90 minutes of quiet time for every participant to process her road map,” says Christabel. “While this did not follow the prescribed program plan, it was powerful.”
As to impact, the group discussions were particularly significant in two areas: the topic of Kingdom Friendships allowed the women to see the strength in supporting each other to achieve the shared mission of iEsther. And when the individuals encountered setbacks when pursuing their walks with God, they identified those struggles as warfare and were able to apply the Warfare session content immediately. “We used our Kingdom Friendships to fight those battles,” says Christabel.
But by far, the biggest impact was clarity. “Many of our ladies are contemplating on their calling in midst of very hectic work life here,” says Christabel, citing how the project allowed them to achieve focus and rekindle their passions.
“I hope many more people and churches can benefit from this tool,” she said in thanking the authors and in encouraging them to translate The 210 Project into other languages. “It is truly life-changing.”