Embrace conference stresses boldness in evangelism
    September 22 2014 by Erin Gandy, Biblical Recorder

    More than 100 women from across North Carolina gathered at LifeWay’s Ridgecrest Conference Center at Black Mountain from Sept. 5-6, 2014, for the Embrace Women’s Prayer and Evangelism Retreat.
    This year’s theme was “Be Bold: Standing Up for Christ in the Midst of Change.”
    “We live in a changing culture, and while most of our lives have not been threatened because of the gospel message, at times it feels as though we are in the minority,” said Ashley Allen, senior consultant for Embrace Women’s Missions and Ministries for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC). “Paul is the example of one who took that mandate [Great Commission] seriously and shared the gospel in the midst of opposition. May we be found faithful to do likewise.”
    The special guest speaker for the two-day retreat was Mary Jo Sharp of Houston, Texas.


    BR photo by Pam Blume
    Phyllis Foy, a church renewal missionary with the North American Mission Board, leads women in prayer during the Embrace Women’s Prayer and Evangelism Retreat Sept. 5-6 at Ridgecrest Conference Center.

    Sharp, a former atheist who holds a masters in Christian apologetics, is currently an apologetics instructor for the North American Mission Board. She is also an assistant professor at Houston Baptist University. Worship for the weekend was led by Ashley Seagle, leader of the BeDoTell Girls’ Band, part of the BSC’s youth ministry.
    Conference attendees were made aware of the BSC’s eight strategic focus teams across the state which are “committed to impacting lostness through disciple-making,” according to ncbaptist.org.
    Women were asked to sit at tables that properly identified the strategic focus area in which their church was located. Tables contained facts and tailored prayer requests for their strategy area.
    As a kickoff for Friday evening, women enjoyed games centered on North Carolina facts and snacked on Krispy Kreme donuts.

    This was meant to foster pride in the state yet shed light on the extreme prevalence of lostness in neighborhoods and communities.
    Sharp led three plenary sessions focusing on the reason for apologetics and conversational apologetics. According to Sharp, we must study our faith to “answer our own doubt which builds up our own confidence in what we believe and that changes lives.” We must be confident in what we believe in order to go out and share with others.
    Sharp’s discussion on the elements of conversational apologetics provided attendees with practical tips of how to converse with nonbelievers. Sharp emphasized women must know their faith, listen to others, question and respond. In her closing remarks Sharp said 1 Peter 3:15 encouraged that “we are not out there giving good arguments to be argumentative …  this is out of love and respect for the other person.”
    A question and answer time with Sharp was held during the final session. This allowed women to pose questions regarding concerns about sharing the gospel in their personal contexts.
    Brian Upshaw, disciple-making team leader for the BSC, led an additional plenary session teaching the women in attendance “The Story” method. This is a simple method of sharing the story of the gospel divided into creation, fall, rescue and restoration. Upshaw said, “We are to be living the Christian life in such a way that people are asking, ‘Why do you live the way you live? Why do you believe the way you believe?’ and then we are given an invitation to share this wonderful story.”
    Upshaw’s time of instruction served to provide a framework for conversations Sharp had previously encouraged women to have with others during her speaking times.
    Allen hoped women would return from the retreat to their home church “feeling not only encouraged and challenged to do the ministry of disciple-making, but [that] they also felt equipped to do so” in their contexts.
    Next year’s conference will be held at Caraway Conference Center Oct. 23-24, 2015.

    9/22/2014 12:18:56 PM by Erin Gandy, Biblical Recorder | with 0 comments
    Filed under: North Carolina, SBC, women's ministry

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