By Shari Edwards

A reason for hope

By Shari Edwards

I have the privilege of serving on an advisory board, along with various businessmen, pastors, and other women who serve in ministry. One of my responsibilities on this board is to line up someone to share a devotion at our meetings. The thing is, I usually forget to ask someone until a day or two before our meeting. Of course, I know the pastors are always good to share a “word,” right? It just so happens that for our last meeting, I texted my good friend and former Ouachita Baptist University classmate, Dr. Mike Seabaugh, pastor of Central Baptist in Magnolia, and asked if he would mind sharing the devotion.  

Mike so graciously agreed and as we began the meeting, he shared with his typical wit (if you know Mike, you know), the backstory of me asking him at the last minute. He mentioned the passage from 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” It’s a verse I’ve heard my whole life, have read dozens of times, yet in the context of how Mike applied it here, I thought to myself, “am I always prepared to give an answer, or a testimony, for the source of the hope I have?”  

This verse happens to be our theme verse for the ABSC Inspire 2022 Women’s Conference (thanks for the inspiration, Mike!). It’s a thread that has been woven throughout our “Inspire on the Go” podcast episodes this year and is the focus for our connection time for the women who attend Inspire. As I have talked with women from around Arkansas and various parts of the country this year, I have realized like never before that women need to know that their story matters and that Jesus really is our true Hope! To many women who are faithfully serving in their everyday local context, it can sometimes seem like only women who lead Bible studies, who have a platform, who have a speaking ministry, who have authored a book, or who have a large social media influence, are the ones who have a voice that other people will listen to. What this does is, instead of giving women voice to their stories, it can actually keep them from sharing their stories: meaningful stories of hope, of transformation, of how Jesus met them where they were and changed the course of their lives.  

Here’s the thing: if you walk with Jesus, if He has changed your life, you have a story! And the women around you need to hear your story! It doesn’t escape me that as a culture, we are quick to share information, to share our ideas, our knowledge, our opinions, our insights, and everything else. But are we quick to share a reason for the HOPE we have? And even more importantly, do we live as though we have hope? As believers, we want to know how to always be prepared to share with those who need to know about the real and lasting hope we have.  

I want to invite all women in our Arkansas Baptist churches to come to Inspire 2022, Saturday, September 24th at First Baptist Church in Benton. Bring your friends who are in need of some hope. It will be a day for us to celebrate and proclaim together the real HOPE that we have in Christ! Find out more and register at absc.org/inspire.  

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