Culturally, it was an ambitious task gathering 137 leaders. A local missionary offered that they might gather 30 leaders, and a gathering of 50 is rare. A growing buzz of voices filled the room as women overflowed into the small hotel conference room located in the Sichuan Province of China.
Seating for those registered was provided, but even more came.
Ambitious to be a part, the overflow joyfully crammed into the closet located in the back of the room, hungry to gather as a large group in unity to hear hope and encouragement from God’s Word. These women indicated that they came from several home churches, but rarely have the opportunity to interact as a whole body. Laughter, joy, tears, hugs, and photo-ops constantly filled the room. When we read from God’s Word they all read aloud in one voice – all such powerful, beautiful moments together that I won’t soon forget.
Our team was on a mission to empower them to rise up as leaders in their city; to remind them that they have been called for great purpose by our great God... for such a time as this.
God met us there and maximized our time together, providing hope and light in a city whose nation doesn't recognize their deep faith. Here's what some attendees had to say...
"For me personally, this conference meant I found ministry partners who have the same vision: that all of us are willing to grow up and become God’s elite soldiers. We are willing to live in community with others and help them to become disciples of the Lord. It also meant the alliance of my local churches. Because of this same vision, together we can win the souls from this city."
"Our speakers included a doctor, a business woman, a ministry leader, and a full-time mom. I learned that as women, our lives have unlimited possibilities. We are valuable, and we can be a mighty tool of God as we influence people around us for His Kingdom!"
"I started to consider how I can get serious about equipping myself to serve others in my life circle, with a focus on building discipleship relationships with others."
"It is a very memorable day. In order to attend this conference, some sisters came from other cities. We felt loved, served, encouraged, and equipped! The Esther Conference provided a unique opportunity to connect sisters who have the same vision to reach our nation."
We've returned home, but the work of the Esther Initiative in South East Asia continues. We're working in partnership with key ministry leaders on the ground to build community, a strong foundation of leadership mentoring groups, and cutting edge technology that will encourage and equip these women long after the conference has ended.