Ministers' wives challenged to look
into the face of God
--By Nedra Kanavel
ATLANTA, June 17--"When is the last time you looked into the
face of God and listened?" Jill Briscoe asked a capacity audience of 1,000 attending
the 44th annual Southern Baptist Ministers' Wives Conference and Luncheon June 15 in
Atlanta's Georgia World Congress Center. "When we let ourselves truly listen, the
energy will come and the passion will return," said Briscoe, a popular speaker at
Christian women's events, author of "Renewal on the Run" and executive editor of
"Just Between Us" magazine for wives of ministers and women in ministry.
Through prayer, rest and reliance on their faith, ministers'
wives can "learn the unforced rhythms of grace" and "dress our spirit in a
peace that passes understanding every morning," Briscoe, wife of Stuart Briscoe,
senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wis., said. She and her husband have
written more than 40 books. Briscoe, originally from Liverpool, England, said her years in
urban mission work and as a pastor's wife have taught her that "God loves to reduce
us to helplessness, because that is where prayer is birthed."
Referring to 1 Kings 19 and the story of Elijah's helplessness
under a broom tree, Briscoe said she realized her "prayer life was pretty
pathetic." Just as Elijah found himself reduced to nothing by Jezebel's threats,
"If you're doing something right, one day you'll find yourself under the broom tree.
You'll find yourself running out of faith," she said. "I know a lot of burned
out ministers and ministers' wives who never get a break. They end up spiritually
discouraged, distressed and faith weary."
"It's what you do when you're fed up that matters," she
said. During low times, Briscoe said the emotions of depression can be overwhelming. She
encouraged the women to rely on what they know of God to help them find their way. She
also reminded the women that God wants them to take time for rest during their busy lives.
"Remember that God never drives the sheep. He leads them. Sometimes I think he wants
to touch us gingerly and say, 'The journey is too great for thee,'" Briscoe said.
"He will provide the nourishment you desperately need."
During the meeting, the Mrs. J.M. Dawson Distinguished Service Award was presented to
Nancy Hinson Sullivan, wife of John Sullivan, executive director of the Florida Baptist
Convention. The award has been presented only nine previous times since its inception in
Sullivan was praised for her work with the Ministers' Wives
Endowment Fund, established in 1995 by the SBC Executive Committee. The fund was created
to generate income to defray costs of the annual luncheon, seeking to make the meal more
affordable for every Southern Baptist minister's wife who wants to attend. Sullivan played
a significant role in establishing and promoting the fund. Its 1997 goal of $100,000 was
exceeded and allowed 1998 tickets to sell for $12 before the SBC and $14 at the door. This
year's tickets were lowered even further to $10 before the SBC and $12 at the door. A new
goal of $200,000 has been set to complete the fund. Total endowment to date is $130,000.
Any individual or church interested in contributing to the endowment fund to further
reduce expenses may contact Sullivan, c/o Florida Baptist Convention, 1230 Hendricks Ave.,
Jacksonville, FL 32207.
The 1999-2000 ministers' wives officers are: president, Joyce
Rogers, wife of Adrian Rogers, pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn.; vice
president, Diane Strack, wife of Jay Strack, an associate pastor of First Baptist Church,
Orlando; recording secretary/treasurer, Leigh Lowery, wife of Fred Lowery, pastor of First
Baptist Church, Bossier City, La.; corresponding secretary, Judy Robinson, wife of James
Robinson, pastor of First Baptist Church, Durant, Okla.
The annual ministers' wives luncheon is open to all wives of
ministers -- pastors, staff members, chaplains, missionaries and denominational
workers.With the theme "Women of Influence," the 2000 conference will feature
Vonette Bright, wife of Bill Bright and cofounder of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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