MOORE—If Baptist women want to skip the State Fair this year, that’s understandable.
Five hundred and fifty of them have already had that experience, plus the added benefit of learning about missions and ministries—and developing leadership skills.
SWEET Experience 2011 at Moore, First Aug. 27 was filled with dozens of “big top” experiences in a carnival atmosphere, which included the staples of Cracker Jack and cotton candy.
But more important were the Midway experiences of Baby Boot Camp, Blanket the State, Christian Women’s Job Corps, DaySpring Villa, Decoration Ideas, Disaster Relief, East Asia Partnership, Ethics and Religious Liberty, Hope Pregnancy Centers, Human Trafficking Interactive Experience, Abstinence Education Program, Missionary Parents Fellowship, Moms In Touch, MY 316, Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Campers on Mission, Sunday School 6426 Project, Urban Development and Community Transformation, World Crafts and World Hunger.
And the women participated in more than 30 Side Shows, learning how to be better leaders.
The Grandstand Stage was filled with performers and demonstrations during the afternoon, including performances by singers Jami Smith and Amy Hill, and demonstrations of life coaching by Becky Badry, event planning by Sheryl Porter and World Crafts by Andrea Mullins.
Featured attractions included Mullins, production development center director for national Woman’s Missionary Union, and Jaye Martin, director of women’s leadership at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
Mullins told of a trip with a group of women to the summer Olympics in Australia. The women were to take a train through the mountains, but it was more of a tram with open sides and rickety-looking seats. And the only thing they could see ahead of them was a large black hole leading into a mountain.
“Our question was ‘Do we get on the train or not?’” said Mullins.
She compared that experience with what Jesus invites us to do.
“Jesus leads us to uncharted waters,” she reminded. “We are not sure we want to get off the platform. We don’t know if we want to make that commitment.”
As an example, Mullins told of an opportunity she was afforded to minister to women who dance topless in a night club.
“That took me way out of my comfort zone,” she admitted. “But the Lord said, ‘If you don’t go, who will?’”
She said the night club was pitch dark except for the light on the girls.
“I never felt spiritual darkness like that,” she said. “I wanted to run out, but I was reminded of a friend’s prayer—‘give her a holy cool.’”
Mullins said she has ministered there for nearly 13 years, and, while it horrifies her as much now, she has built relationships.
“Five years ago, I was ready to quit, because I didn’t know if I was making a difference,” she revealed. “Then one night, I heard a young woman in the dressing room say, ‘I know I’m better than this.’
“Heather had four preschool children and was disabled, but had taken college courses and received the highest grade in her class. We were able to get her a home in the projects, and she told us that ‘You and your friends have made a difference in my life.’”
Mullins told the women Jesus was looking for the Heathers of the world, and wanted His disciples to see what He saw.
“We don’t become missional followers of Jesus by accident—we don’t come out of the womb a missional disciple,” she said. “Jesus showed His disciples how to do it, and then let them do it.”
Returning to the subject of the train trip in Australia, Mullins said the group decided to board the train. After entering the black hole, they soon saw a stream of light, and then were ushered into a magnificent panoramic view of a mountain filled with eucalyptus trees.
“To see the view, we had to get on the train,” she pointed out. “Every morning, when you stand on the platform, you must trust Him to show you the panoramic view of God’s mission and God’s love.”
Martin told the women they were created to make a difference.
“God has called you and gifted you,” she said. “He has a specific plan for you doing what you are good at.”
She said we take so many things for granted, including the life we have in Christ.
“But the person next to you may have no idea what that life is like,” she said.
Speaking from Ephesians 2:8-10, she noted that life is empty without Christ, that Jesus fills hearts and lives with hope and meaning and that “you were created to make an eternal difference.”
“God has given your church the gift of you,” she emphasized. “We are to be part of a fellowship. You know people no one else knows—that no one else will influence.”
She told the women that God wants to use them beyond all measure.
“Will you go do what God calls you to do?” she asked. “You can make a difference right where you are.”
During the Ringmaster Rally, Kelly King, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma women’s missions and ministries specialist, reminded the women that the greatest leaders are those who are servants.
Next year’s SWEET Experience will be a 20-Town Tour of the state.