Women’s session features mothers with diverse stories
MOORE—Women attending the Women’s Session of the State Evangelism Conference heard from two mothers with compellingly diverse stories.
Cheri Fuller, Edmond resident and prolific author of 42 books, including her latest, Mother-Daughter Duet: Getting to the Relationship You Want With Your Adult Daughter, told the women how to make connections that will lead to sharing their faith.
At the other end of the spectrum, Carol Kent, longtime author and speaker, revealed how her ministry changed 11 years ago when her only son was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of his wife’s ex-husband.
Fuller said evangelism for her began as she was living in Tulsa in 1974, the mother of two small sons, pregnant with her daughter, and lonely because she was away from family and her husband was working all the time.
“Throughout my teens and 20s I was cynical with a huge hole in my heart from the death of my father when I was 11,” she said. “But I began to read the New Testament, and when I got to the first chapter of John, I realized that was the passage I had memorized as a 5-year-old. And those were the words God used to turn on the light.”
When her daughter was 3 weeks old, the family moved to Oklahoma City, where she didn’t know anyone her age. Then a young family from California moved in down the street.
“I asked Mary to come to my house for coffee, and Jesus began to enter the conversations,” she said. “I took her to a Mothers Prayer and Share group, where she committed her life to Christ, and her husband and children became believers.”
Fuller said we should never treat people as an evangelism project, but as precious children of God He created.
“Many women are deeply lonely,” she pointed out. “Staying connected is a balm for women’s hearts. It doesn’t take 500 or 5,000 connections on Facebook, but only two or three good friends to fill our cup with friendship.”
There are ways to make connections, she said.
“Give a transfusion of encouragement to others by being an encourager,” she divulged. “People move toward encouragers and away from discouragers. Make a clean break with critical talk.”
Listening with your heart also helps build a bridge of relationship, she noted.
“And when you serve, don’t just love in word, but in deed,” she insisted. “Take a meal to someone, check in weekly during trials, offer to help with children.”
The most important thing, she said, is to cover the whole process with prayer.
“Prayer lays tracks for God’s power to come,” she said. “Your prayers will outlive your life. “
She noted that the majority of believers come to Christ through a network of relationships.
“The chain of coming to Christ has approximately 30 links,” she said.
Carol Kent said after her son, Jason, went to prison, there were several things she and her husband had to choose to do.
“First, we had to decide to choose life,” she said. “Sometimes we had to decide to even breathe.”
She said as the firstborn of six children of a preacher, she memorized a lot of Scripture.
“Sometimes, while reading God’s Word, I was crying so hard, I couldn’t see the words on the page,” she admitted.
“That’s when I needed the memorization I did as a child.”
She said they also had to choose to trust.
“I didn’t think I could ever face the people in our town,” she said. “But when I went to get my hair colored, the woman who plucks by eyebrows saw the fear on my face and came to the front of the salon, took me by the hand and led me through the salon,” she reported. “She reminded me there are people I can trust.
“We had to choose vulnerability,” she said. “I was a speaker before my son was arrested. Would people still listen to me as a Christian leader.”
She said after she spoke at a meeting in Oregon, a lady came up to her and said her husband was incarcerated, and Kent has given her the courage to tell her story. Standing behind that woman were three young women holding hands. They revealed they had been abused as children and Kent had given them the courage to tell their story.
“God is teaching me the best tool is to love people before we drop 500 Bible verses on them,” she said.
Choosing gratitude was one of the hardest, she noted.
“Being thankful is a powerful way to hold on to hope,” she revealed. “Jason told us he was thankful for parents and family members who continue to visit him in prison. And he is thankful he can be a missionary in a very dark place. He has a group of 12 inmates who are prayer warriors.”
Choosing forgiveness was another difficult task, she said.
“Jason’s wife, April, and her two daughters continued to visit Jason in prison, but after three hurricanes came through her area, she decided to move out of state, saying she wanted a normal life for her little girls,” Kent said. “I struggled with that. But I know forgiveness is not a one-time thing. Jason continues to write April and the girls.”
And finally, Kent said, they had to choose purposeful action.
“God is using Jason in profound ways behind bars,” she said. “He is learning to be surprised by joy, freedom on the inside and by mercy.”
Kent said although her son has been imprisoned for 11 years, she still tends to have pity parties.
“But this is my life now, and have to live it for the glory of God,” she said. “Jesus Christ went to the cross for my son and all the sons of the world.”
During afternoon breakout sessions, Becky Badry, women’s missions and ministries director for the Colorado Convention, shared with the women how to capture their stories.
“We all have a story,” she said. “If we are Christians, our lives are not just a compilation of random events.”
Fuller led a session on praying for the lost, and Kent conducted a session for women speakers on evangelistic speaking.