Jenny arrived at Flourish on Friday night discouraged and downhearted. It had been confirmed the day before – her cancer remained. Eight long years she had walked with this enemy, and not alone for her daughter also carried the same cancer burden.
She recalls it was like facing her own personal ‘death sentence’. Yet, hearing how guest speaker, Vanessa Goosen- fought and endured her way through prison inspired her. Here was a lady standing before her who faced her own death sentence and overcame it. Jenny went to Vanessa’s table afterwards and bought her book. Vanessa leaned over, looked at her and said; “never give up”. Jenny remembers standing there stunned. Vanessa didn’t know what she was facing – the horrid reality of her cancer. Those words “never give up” found a home in Jenny’s soul. For Jenny it was a personal message of inspiration; a hope-filled boost to her soul, lending her strength to endure her journey.
Like Jenny, Zandile arrived at Flourish heavily burdened. Her mother’s passing just a few weeks before had broken her heart. She recalls waking up every day feeling hard-pressed by the pain and sadness that hung over her. She came to Flourish hoping it would help her deal with some of the pain. She couldn’t carry on feeling like this – the pain of losing her mom, the stress of looking after the family, being the only breadwinner. She hoped attending Flourish would open her eyes to see God’s presence in her life. She knew He was there, but the pain and grief clouded her view of Him. Hearing Vanessa’s story made her realise that other people also face major problems. She felt comforted realising how God had rescued Vanessa from prison and how God had helped her overcome that pain. Zandile thought to herself, “If God can do that for her, He can do that for me!” Hope flooded her soul as she realised she could trust God with more – more than she was currently doing. She could trust Him to take away the pain, to heal her heart. She could trust Him to help with all the things left to sort out from her mother’s death. The clouds of pain and uncertainty that were hiding His presence had started to lift.
These are just two of the extraordinary testimonies coming out of our Flourish Women’s Conference 2017. This year we were delighted to have 1600 ladies join us from around the city for a jam-packed, entertaining and inspiring Friday and Saturday. This year’s conference was centred around the theme of Chosen. It was our hope that each woman would leave reminded of the fact that we are chosen by God for a grand, unique and God-glorifying purpose and would rise up to embrace this chosen, royal identity like never before.
We were blessed by a variety of different speakers, dances, personal stories and interviews, free giveaways and even some comedy clips. There were moments we giggled, moments we shed some tears, moments we sat with bated breath listening to personal stories, and just when we felt that full, satisfied feeling that comes after enjoying a great meal, there was more. It was time to put on our crowns. Now, there’s something about putting on a crown, something inside that makes you beam a little brighter, stand a little taller, and feel a bit more special. Little girls put on crowns to pretend to be princesses. But this wasn’t pretend. As we placed our crowns on our head something deep within us confirmed that we were rising up as His queens, rising up into our chosen, royal identities. We are shouting ‘Yes’ and ‘Amen’ to the way we believe God sees us.
It’s no understatement to say the sight of so many women wearing their crowns, confidently and authentically, was magnificent. Volunteers handing out the crowns left the auditorium with tears in their eyes. God had done a deep and powerful work within us. Women left the Church wearing their crowns, some remained chatting in the coffee shop late into the afternoon still wearing their crowns. At some sites women wore their crowns to church the next day – evidence it wasn’t a playful moment of whimsical fantasy we created for ourselves. It was so much more! We stood there embracing our chosen, royal identities that He has given us through His son, Jesus. God had done His work.