Testimonies of 'Irrepressible Hope' highlight Women of Faith
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Story after story of God faithfully leading women through difficult circumstances are the cornerstone of the "Women of Faith: Irrepressible Hope" conferences scheduled throughout the year in 28 cities.
With the theme based on Hebrews 6:19, "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure," Sheila Walsh, Patsy Clairmont, Thelma Wells, Marilyn Meberg, Luci Swindoll and others share testimonies of how God led them through dark days with His unchanging promise of hope.
At the Nashville, Tenn., conference May 14-15, Walsh told of how God rescued her from a bout with clinical depression that at one point 28 years ago had her standing on the edge of a bridge, ready to jump.
"There would be no more feeling alone," she said, noting that she was a seminary student at the time and no one would have guessed she was dealing with such issues.
But God gave Walsh a second chance and provided a platform for sharing her story about the heartache no one sees so that others in her shoes can experience the hope and freedom Christ provides.
"God doesn't just talk on Sundays," she said. "This is His world, and He is passionately involved."
Clairmont shared humorous stories of how her emotion-based decision-making got her into some tough situations during her younger years.
"But now I can make decisions past how I feel," she said, noting God intends for His children also to use common sense when deciding.
With a string of sporadically knotted rubber bands as a prop, Clairmont said God sometimes places people in situations where they feel jumbled up and cannot find a way out.
"We seek Him more when life gets tough," she said. "We're more considerate of what He's saying."
She added that God knows His children don't always hear well, and He knows they don't always get it. But He's a God of second chances, she said, and there's always hope.
Wells told the 8,000-plus women gathered in Nashville that her great-grandmother's favorite advice to her as a girl was, "Keep your hopes up."
As she recounted how doctors told her during a dangerous pregnancy that either she or the baby would die, Wells said she kept her hopes up and believed that God would keep them both alive. And He did. The daughter from the pregnancy performed an interpretive dance just before Wells spoke.
"Keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking because hope does not disappoint," Wells said, drawing from Matthew 7:7-8 and Romans 5:5.
Meberg emphasized the parallel between hope and God's perfect timing. She shared a story about her 9-year-old grandson, Ian.
"One day I asked Ian to tell me someone who has no hope," she said. "He responded, 'Julie Pheiffer.' I asked why and he said, 'Because she's been trying to kiss me for two years!'"
While Ian may be able to outrun Julie now, Meberg said, there will come a time when Ian won't run. So even Julie has hope, all according to timing.
Megberg, a professional counselor, said God will not let anyone's difficult experience go to waste. In His perfect timing, He will make use of it. And just like He saw Hagar crying in the desert, God sees each individual in the midst of her pain.
Swindoll said hope is dangerous because it means looking for something not yet seen and it requires stepping out on a limb, trusting God to provide. She told the women about a disappointing relationship she had earlier in life when a close, trusted friend of many years betrayed her by spreading falsehoods about her. But Swindoll finally learned forgiveness is a gift God gives people who have been hurt so that they no longer have to carry the burden of that hurt. When someone forgives, a tremendous weight is lifted, she said, no matter if the other person asks for forgiveness.
Nearly 2.5 million women have attended Women of Faith conferences during the past nine years. In addition to the core speakers, the events feature musical guests, guest speakers and drama.
For more information about Women of Faith, including a list of conference cities and dates, visit www.womenoffaith.com. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: WOMEN OF FAITH.