Speak Up 2023 changed my family’s life forever.
Many people come away with takeaways that will propel them to the next level of speaking, writing, or leading. Speak Up is designed to equip Christian communicators.
Well, what happens when you’re not a Christian, and you attend the conference?
Sitting beside my daughter-in-love at one of the front tables, I ran my hand along the smooth black table cover, “Lord,” I said, “Whatever you want to do in my life at this conference, I am open to it, and I welcome you.”
I came to the conference anticipating, but what I was anticipating, I wasn’t quite sure of. I knew I went broken with a desire for wholeness. However, this yearning was not new for me. It felt like I had been broken and searching for the Lord to repair me for months, floundering since my forced resignation as part of the pastoral team at my church, and with my identity wrapped up in ministry, I had more questions than answers.
Perhaps you’ve faced these questions and doubts, too:
- Maybe I’m not gifted enough.
- Did I hear the voice of God wrong?
- Maybe He didn’t call me.
- Perhaps the crushing words spoken over me were true. Maybe I wasn’t making a difference—only a mess.
- Was there a sin in my life that I wasn’t aware of?
Having a lot of questions combined with a tinge of self-doubt doesn’t make for pleasant inner dialogue.
At the Speak Up Conference during the Friday evening worship, the unmistakable presence of the Holy Spirit was tangible. With our hands raised in adoration, our eyes closed to the physical realm but opened in the spiritual, the Lord invited me to open my eyes and look around.
As I slowly scanned the room, the Lover of my Soul whispered, “Do you see these women, Jenn? These women are your family. I had to separate you from all you knew so I could reveal my next steps for your life.”
“Oh Lord,” I prayed with tears streaming down my face unashamedly, “please forgive me for not trusting the process. I’m sorry, Father. Please be the Lord of Lords and King of Kings again in my life.”
With my spirit prostrate before God’s throne, his grace covered me like a warm blanket. I didn’t want to get up from this place, but He insisted.
With my feet firmly planted under me, my heart and mouth aligned to declare the words into eternity with all authority and power:
Shout Jesus from the mountains, Jesus in the streets, Jesus in the darkness over every enemy, Jesus for my family, I speak the holy name, Jesus.
One of my hands was outstretched to heaven, and I placed the other on my daughter-in-love’s shoulder, believing the Holy Spirit was moving.
My hand rose and dropped from deep sobs coursing through her body. “Set her free, Father, from whatever it is that is breaking her at this moment. By your power, Father, set her free.” I prayed earnestly.
Sitting down in this holy hush, I reached down for my purse to find my Kleenex.
The veil of heaven continued to be rolled back, and when our keynote Debbie Alsdorf started speaking, my spirit perked, and my spiritual ears engaged. She was speaking my language and held me captive. I felt like I was in the room with her as she said a final goodbye to her mom, as she talked about going to God with the attitude of: I tried that, and it didn’t work.
My head was nodding in agreement. My spirit cried, Spot on, Sister. Preach.
At the close of Debbie’s talk, she challenged all of us: “Live like it’s real—because it is!”
Through tears, my daughter-in-love turned to me, “This is why I am here. I was supposed to hear her talk.”
My heart was pounding, and my spirit soared. I mean, isn’t this what I have been praying for, for years?
Don’t screw this up, Jenn. Keep your cool. Don’t push her away. Don’t freak her out. Let her start the conversation.
I played it cool as we traveled to the hotel. We talked about everything but what took place during the service. Finally, I busted, “So, how are you after tonight’s service?”
“Oh, I’m good” Nicole, the ever elusive one replied, and then quickly added, “Night. Love you.”
That was my signal—the conversation was over.
I woke in the morning still giddy over the events of the night before. I still wasn’t sure about what had happened in Nicole’s life. I thought for sure she became a new babe in Christ, and I was excited to spend a solid six hours with her in the car so we could have a great conversation.
At the end of the conference, we gathered around the room to hold hands and pray for each other.
Carol Kent, being obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, opened three specific areas for prayer. One area was for our ministry projects which are currently stuck. I went. Man, could I use prayer to get things completed. The second area was for military spouses. The shuffle of women to the center of the room was a beautiful sound.
Then Carol trumpeted the call, “Maybe you have been floundering this year, and you need to commit your life and ministry once again to Jesus. Please come over here.” My feet moved to this circle. I wanted to make public what God did in my life the night before. Arms reached out, embracing me with warmth, comfort, and grace.
Raising my head, my eyes caught the sight of Nicole standing in the circle of ladies who had just confessed their sins and sought forgiveness from the one who saves—Jesus Christ.
“Woo-hoo,” was all I could manage at that moment.
Nicole grabbed ahold of one of the women and hugged her. Quoting Debbie Alsdorf from the night before and affirming Nicole’s fresh choice to follow Jesus, she said, “You know that it’s real—because it is!”
Our long drive back to our home in Canada flew by. We talked about our faith during the entire six-hour trip–and a week later Nicole asked to be baptized. Only God!
Question: When did you come to faith in Christ? What happened and how did you know it was real?
About Jenn Dafoe-Turner
Jenn Defoe-Turner is an award-winning author, speaker, prayer coordinator, and acquisitions editor. Her ministry, Faith Through Healing, emphasizes teaching people to delight in inward truth. Jenn says: “As I find my identity in Christ, the Holy Spirit restores the image the Father had of me before forming the world. I am still a work in progress, like you, but I know that God has brought us together for such a time as this.” For more information and social media links, go to www.www.jenndafoe-turner.com.