NEW ORLEANS – Abiding in Christ, the source of godliness and effective ministry, was the focus of the Abide Women’s Conference at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) Feb. 7-8.
More than 300 women – ages teen to 90s – attended the inaugural event under the direction of Tara Dew, wife of NOBTS president Jamie Dew.
“It is our desire at NOBTS and Leavell College to train, equip and serve anyone – male or female – that comes to us,” Dew said. “The Abide Conference is one way we hope to serve the women on our campus, in our local churches and in our broader community to know and love God more deeply.”
Jess Archer, children and youth missions education strategist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention and plenary speaker for the two-day event, encouraged listeners to grow in Christ through prayer, Bible study, stewardship and solitude – spiritual disciplines that are “found in Scripture that promote growth in a believer.”
Archer pointed to John 15, Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 6:12-16 to explain that spiritual disciplines are “the way believers care for their hearts and minds” but reminded listeners that only God can transform the human heart.
“When we abide in Christ, the godly behavior that a person displays shows that salvation has taken place,” Archer said. “It’s not by works. It’s all what Christ has done in us.”
Modeling Jesus’ example of time alone with God is vital, Archer said, adding that devotion to Christ cannot be separated from obedience to Christ.
“The discipline of stewardship calls us to use our time, talent and treasure for His glory,” Archer said. “The Lord entrusts us with great gifts. If we use them well we can be effective ministers. The Lord can use us in great and mighty ways.”
A shared journey
“The unity, laughter and fellowship we experienced was an outpouring of God’s favor upon us and we are so thankful,” Dew said.
Kathy Steele, professor of counseling, opened the event with a moving testimony of God’s faithfulness through her recent cancer treatment.
“God’s Word is so essential in helping us abide with God in difficult times,” Steele said, noting that believers feel powerless when plans and expectations are forced aside unexpectedly.
“To abide in Christ I have to let my expectations go,” Steele said. “His mercy is never ending. If we release our expectations to Him, He will grant His mercy.”
Breakout sessions focused on abiding with Christ through the study of God’s Word, a posture of prayer, faithful trust, and joyful gratitude and contentment.
Leading the breakout sessions were Stephanie Lyon, wife of Larry Lyon, NOBTS vice president of enrollment; Diane Nix, founder and director of Contagious Joy and wife of Preston Nix, professor of evangelism and evangelistic preaching; Micah Putman, NOBTS Ph.D. student and wife of Rhyne Putman, associate professor of theology and culture; and Joy Ross, wife of George Ross, assistant professor of church planting and evangelism and a North American Mission Board Send City missionary.
Bethany Hogeland, wife of an NOBTS student, said “I loved how transparently authentic the speakers were when they were talking about their relationship with the Lord, their struggles, and what He’s continually teaching them, and how it’s still a journey.”
Quanisha Browning, a member of a church plant in New Orleans, said she appreciated Ross’ encouragement to write down regularly everything she is grateful for, a habit Browning already has developed. “But it was helpful to have a reminder of the utility of that,” Browning said. “It was refreshing to be there.”
Jen Wilkin, LifeWay author and Bible teacher, is the featured plenary speaker for next year’s Abide Conference.
The Abide Women’s Conference is supported through gifts made by the Leavell family in memory of Mrs. Annie Leavell, mother of former NOBTS president Landrum Leavell.
“God’s Spirit was tangible among us,” Dew said. “Women left encouraged, inspired and challenged, with practical ways to abide with God and live fruitful lives for Him. Already, they are excited and ready to register for next year’s event with Jen Wilkin.”
Written by Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.