Despite a national mood of apprehension, more than 5,000 Christian
women traveled to the Global Celebration for Women in Houston the week
after terrorists attacked New York City and Washington, D.C. Even though
airlines had greatly reduced the number of domestic and foreign flights,
women from more than 150 countries made it to the Reliant Astrodome.
They came from across the United States, the Philippines, Brazil, Serbia,
Egypt, Hong Kong, Great Britain, Honduras, Canada, Kenya and many other
Sponsored by 12 womens faith organizations, including Assemblies
of God Womens Ministries, the event featured Elizabeth Dole, Anne
Graham Lotz and several other leaders.
"It is not by accident that we gather at such a time as this,"
said Dole, former president of the American Red Cross. "As we meet,
people around the world are searching for hope in a whole new way. Doors
that once were closed tight have broken open wide. Men and women are
hungry to know the truth that can set them free."
Dole, who served as secretary of transportation in the Reagan administration
and secretary of labor in the George Bush administration, shared the
platform with lesser-known speakers such as single mother Peggy Ledford.
Ledford, who made Jesus her Savior at a Convoy of Hope outreach, had
a powerful impact on attendees by describing her story of poverty, disability
and Christs transforming love.
"This conference was a moment in history when women made a statement
of faith," says Lillian Sparks, A/G national Womens Ministries
director. "Nothing speaks louder than the unity, determination,
courage and humility of leaders coming together in the face of terrorism
to proclaim that Christ is our hope."
Women from many walks of life and many ethnicities worshiped and praised
God in unison. Acknowledging common struggles of life in a post-modern
world, participants accepted the overriding challenge to share Jesus
Christ among an international community desperate for hope and mercy.
"The different praise and the different cultures were the most
exciting things," says Becky Brumbalow, of Evangel Community Church
(A/G) in Snellville, Ga. "Everyone brought a distinct culture and
way of worship."
Workshops focused on cross-cultural learning, living in a hostile world,
micro-enterprise, spiritual warfare, leadership, AIDS, prayer and dozens
of other topics. In addition, Sparks co-taught a workshop on motivational
gifts with Deborah Gill, senior pastor of Living Hope Church (A/G) in
North Oaks, Minn.
Organizers extended an invitation to area churches, and attendance
swelled to 15,000 for the closing ceremony featuring musicians Alicia
Williamson, Kathy Troccoli and the Salvation Army Band.
As the three-day conference ended on September 21, Convoy of Hope launched
an evangelism outreach at a nearby mall. More than 5,000 guests attended
and 522 of those made a decision to accept Christ as Savior.