Judy Shaddox serves alongside her husband, Ken, who is the pastor at Park Hill Baptist Church in North Little Rock and works at the ABSC as a ministry assistant on the Evangelism+Church Health Team.
“Compelled by a Common Bond” was more than just a theme to the 70 women who gathered at First Baptist Church’s fellowship hall in Cabot on Monday, Oct. 25 for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) Ministers’ Wives Conference. It was reflected in the laughter, animated table conversations and genuine joy of mingling with others from around the state who serve in churches alongside their husbands.
The conference is sponsored annually by the ABSC and the Ministers’ Wives Team of Arkansas led by Andrea Lennon, ABSC Women’s Ministry Consultant, and Vickie Lee of First Baptist Church in Sherwood. The purpose is to enjoy lunch, give encouragement to the women, have a time of worship, and inspire meaningful conversations.
Melanie Jenkins, a teacher, and pastor’s wife for 26 years, led the incredible worship with the help of Joel Winters of First Baptist Church in Benton.
Conference speaker was Aamie Mason, who serves as a licensed counselor with Living Well Counseling, a ministry of Arkansas Baptist Children’s Home & Family Ministries. Her bond with the group was a natural fit as she is married to David, the pastor at Walnut Valley Baptist Church in Hot Springs Village.
As a counselor, she finds that she spends a lot of time helping people to establish, strengthen or even repair bonds with others. The word she uses is “attachment” which is a bond between people that develops through patterned interactions or “rhythms of engagement.” “Because we live in a broken world,” she says, “attachments can be ruptured” leaving deep relational wounds. “But there is hope, because Jesus Christ is the perfect example of a secure attachment.”
According to Mason, there are four keys to a secure attachment – when a person feels seen, soothed, safe, and secure.
Mason acknowledged that she regularly listens to the hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour” and is reminded of that daily. She estimated that seated in that room there were women who also needed that reminder. Many certainly were spending countless hours serving the church while balancing work, motherhood, and marriage. Others were battling infertility, raising grandchildren, or caring for elderly parents. She encouraged the ministers’ wives to let them know that they are seen by God. Some in the room, she suggested, are comparing themselves to other ministers’ wives. “You are enough because He is enough” she added.
“Jesus is the ultimate soother,” Mason continued and cited Matthew 11:28-29. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” She suggested avoiding the self-sufficient, instant gratification type of soothing and instead spending time reading His word and praising Him. “When is the last time you allowed yourself to be soothed by Him?”
Mason encouraged the women to surrender their lives to the Lord when facing unexpected times and events that take them out of their comfort zone. “To feel safe and secure with the Lord, we surrender and relinquish every bit of control we think we have to Him.” She quoted Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.” “Live as one who trusts in his safety and security,” she added.
The group listened to a panel discussion with four women of different ages and various stages of life in the ministry – Aubri Duran, Beverly Newborn, Ruby Kite, and Vickie Lee. The women fielded questions about serving during the pandemic, challenges of fostering biblical community through meaningful relationships, and finally, ways that they may have felt seen, soothed, safe, or secured by God.
Around each table, ministers’ wives also were given the opportunity to interact with each other using some of these same topics.
In closing, Mason encouraged the women to leave knowing that they have been in a room full of women who understand and share a common bond. “What I love about this event is that It is so much more than good food and beautiful centerpieces. It is about connecting us to one another and most of all reminding us to be connected to Christ.”