High in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina lies a sacred place. Carved into the Blue Ridge foothills, The Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove has witnessed countless training events, Christian music concerts, and personal spiritual retreats. I don’t think the kind folks at the Cove keep records, but I venture it’s safe to say that untold numbers of believers have consecrated their lives and ministries to the Lord on this holy ground.
Three years ago God launched my writing ministry here as I repeated these words at the Christian Devotions Boot Camp Writers’ Conference: “I am a writer. I write for God.” My blog, Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time, and my devotional book for homeschooling moms, Joy in the Journey, are direct results of that pivotal time on the mountain.
I climbed the mountain again recently, this time in response to a gradual unveiling of God’s ministry will for me. Over the past two years, the Lord has granted me opportunities to share, as 1 Peter 3:16 charges, “the reason for the hope that is within you” at women’s ministry events, conferences, and homeschool meetings. Recognizing that passion alone doesn’t make one the Lord’s witness, I began to seek opportunities to hone my speaking skills.
“I never want God’s message to be hindered by my delivery,” I said as I introduced myself to a local Toastmaster’s club almost a year ago. The talented and kind folks at Columbia Toastmasters took me under their articulate wings and began to teach me all the finer points of speech presentation. And my passion and love for public speaking grew. My skills did too.
Because I wanted to speak for God, I knew I also needed to learn from those who are blazing the Christian speaking trails ahead of me. Three times at a weekend conference different mentors suggested I attend The Christian Communicators Conference at the Cove.
“Lord,” I prayed, “if this is truly the next step I need to take to move forward in ministry for you, please make a way for me to attend.” I applied for a scholarship and prayed some more.
My attendance at CCC was the answer to that prayer.
On the first day, under the kind tutelage of directors Vonda Skelton and Carolyn Knefley, I wrote my mission statement:
To empower and equip women to live in the fullness of Christ.
On the second day, I crafted a purpose board that encapsulated all my calling entails.
Next I learned how to craft a powerful ministry presentation, how to deliver my message with flair, and how to handle the business aspects of ministry with integrity. I learned how to get the word out about my ministry, how to organize my files, and even how to dine with dignitaries.
I attended an elegant tea party to practice all I had learned.
I had my professional headshot taken.
And I practiced, and practiced, and practiced my 5-minute inspirational message. The grand finale for the 30 women attending CCC was presenting our messages to other and *gasp* the video camera.
When Saturday came and the cameras were rolling, my CCC sisters took turns sharing their messages, callings, and passions. They made us laugh, cry, and rejoice. Each story was singularly unique yet stitched to the others with the scarlet cord of Christ’s redeeming love. As the cameras rolled, we glimpsed the depth and breadth and height of God’s passion – to reveal himself through art, the camera lense, drama, nutrition, sports, fiction, Bible study, non-fiction, and finances. And even chicken coops. Oh, what a glorious God we serve – everything is at his disposal.
On Sunday, our holy day and the last of the conference, we worshipped. We invited God to remove the barriers that stood between us and the fullness of the ministry to which he has called us. His presence was powerful and dramatic. I will never forget how God’s strength, made perfect in my weakness, allowed me to conquer the demon of doubt that has tried to hinder my ministry.
As I hugged each of my newfound sisters in Christ and drove down the mountain, I stopped at Chatlos chapel and walked the meditation garden. There the Lord spoke to me. “You’ve played it safe for 30 years. It’s time to start taking risks for me.”
And as I drove I-26 toward home, he stitched up the pieces of the message he had been speaking all week long with a final word. “He who calls you is faithful.” Faithful to provide, equip, empower, advance, and inspire.
Will you pray that God will open doors of ministry for me as I step out in faith?
I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. Ps. 40:3
Lori is an author, blogger, and women’s ministry speaker. She’s the editor of South Carolina’s Reach Out, Columbia magazine, and has authored two devotional books, Hungry for God…Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women and Joy in the Journey — Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms. She is an active blogger on Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time at www.LoriHatcher.com