What I Love About Women of Faith
04.14.11 | | Comments
My preparations for Family Life's hosted trip to Women of Faith® are well underway, and I've been reflecting over the past 14 years and what it's meant.
When Steve Arterburn started the conference, Promisekeepers was at its peak, and he saw a need for women to have a place to come together and relate. So, he chose a few women who were gifted communicators and tried it in a few cities. One of those women, Luci Swindoll (Chuck's sister) said "it'll never work!" She's realized since that prophecy is not one of her gifts!
Of course, it did work, and Women of Faith® has grown to where a decision was made last year to split the group and do two conferences each year, one in the western US and one in the eastern US, and then flip them for the second year. This allows the speakers time to catch their breath between cities and also affords an opportunity to add some great guest speakers.
Why Women of Faith® succeeds, I believe, it because it's all about "Story." Real women tell their stories, the good, the bad and the funny. And women in the audience relate: they laugh, cry and realize they are not alone. Because women are relational, they turn to the women around them and share their stories. And through all this story telling, God works. He brightens the heart of the sad young woman whose friends "made" her come...she hasn't had anything to laugh at for awhile, but who could hold it in through the story that Lisa Harper just told? And then Angie Smith steps up, and the sad Mom's heart realizes that this young mother knows her pain, the pain of losing a child too soon. She cries into her Kleenex and feels God's arms around her, as the women beside her reach out with love and comfort.
Stories like that happen all over the arena. You see it in the tears and smiles, the hugs, the lines to meet a particular speaker who spoke to an individual need, or a singer whose story and song blessed. I personally felt it last fall. I'd been walking through the valley of the shadow as my brother lay deeply ill with pancreatitis in Robert Packer Hospital. After a month in the ICU, the crisis came the day before Women of Faith®'s conference in Rochester, and I spent most of Thursday sitting in a waiting room, praying, and just...waiting.
When the young assistant surgeon finally came to talk to us, he was smiling. As we talked, it came out that he was a believer and he knew Whose hands had guided. Yes, things went well...and when I said I was supposed to be leading a large group of women the next day to Women of Faith, he urged me to go, and praise the Lord there. When Patsy Clairmont told her story, she shared her ICU experience as they waited and watched monitors over her son's bed. As my tears started to come, my friend handed me a tissue, a hand patted my shoulder, and I felt God's love in a packed arena, along with the assurance that God meant for me to be there.
I believe God has a purpose for each woman there...salvation, comfort, rest, reconciliation... The stories are as varied as the women filling the seats. And as women leave the arena Saturday night, you see one thing on every face – JOY!
Learn more about Family Life’s packages to Women of Faith® in Rochester.