First Baptist Church of Columbia, South Carolina, was the setting for the 2009 Women’s Lifestyle Evangelism Conference. Approximately 3700 women braved the 23-degree weather early Saturday morning, January 31, to attend this annual event. This year’s conference, entitled “Unashamed to Proclaim the Gospel” proved to be one of the most inspiring ever presented. CBS’s “Survivor: Amazon” contestant, JoAnna Ward, known on the show as the “Halleluiah Lady,” spoke to the crowd of her greatest achievement-becoming a born-again Christian. However, she says, “One of my most enjoyable hobbies is lifting up the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in pure praise and worship.” She attended South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, and is an AFAA certified fitness instructor. The “Halleluiah Lady” has helped hundreds of people lose thousands of pounds to overcome obesity and add many healthy years to their lives.
Deborah Klassen led the conference attendees in worship with songs of praise and worship. She also spoke of the tragedy of her son, Ryan’s, brush with death in a near-fatal auto accident and how God brought her and her family through that experience. She has been involved with many ministries, including Focus on the Family, Campus Crusade for Christ, and the World Series winning baseball team, the Toronto Blue Jays. Her outstanding voice expressed praise to God in several selections, including “He is Able” and “Held.”
The 2009 Women’s Lifestyle Evangelism Conference featured Liz Curtis Higgs, author of twenty-six books and gifted speaker, entertained with her always sparkling humor and wit. Liz gave many uplifting ways to be released from lingering doubts, fears, and regrets, and most of all, how to receive the “embrace of grace” from our Lord, Jesus Christ. She states “God loves us and made us for Himself. Many times we look at ourselves in the mirror and tend to believe all the lies it tells us. We hear things like, “You are ugly and no one cares about you” or “You don’t matter to anyone,” when we ought to see ourselves as God sees us-just like the song–“You are so Beautiful to Me!” She urged us to embrace who we are in Christ because God knew exactly what He was doing when He made us! Liz Curtis Higgs referenced 1 John 3: 1-that God has lavished and poured-out His love on us. In the morning we should leap out of bed, look in the mirror and say-not “Blah,” but a resounding “Ta-da!” We are made and loved by God and were made to reflect that love on others.
Maria Owens, a Bible study leader, regional speaker, mom, fitness instructor, music teacher, and minister’s wife sited, as the basis for her testimony, Joshua 24:15. She talked of her first marriage, the illness and death of her husband, and how a wonderful ministry replaced tragedy and loss. She spoke of how God’s love for her became her source of strength and peace as she faced life as a young widow, sharing their story to help others know that love.
Author, Kim Hardy, wrapped up the afternoon session with some thoughts and stories from her book, “Spiritually Sassy.” She is a frequent speaker and singer with a message of hope and vision in inspiring women to live victoriously in life, and, in spite of life’s disappointments. She discussed three essentials for living boldly for Christ. She serves with her husband as a North American Mission Board missionary and lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
CDs of the 2009 Women’s Evangelism Lifestyle Conference can be ordered from Conventional Audio, 830 Elm Ave., Columbia, SC, 29205, for a cost of $4.00. 2009 Women’s Lifestyle Conferences were also held this year in Taylors and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.