An event held at the King Opera House organized by Missy O’Brien Thanksgiving of 2017 was a mustard seed for what appears to be a growing women’s movement in South Central Iowa.
The event was a testimony time with both men and women, couples and individuals sharing about some of the difficulties (drug addiction, depression, loss of a child) they had experienced and how God and brought them through it.
In December O’Brien, who was one of those who shared, had a conversation with a female friend struggling with self worth. She couldn’t shake the idea that worth comes from God through Christ, not through self.
She shared her feelings with a friend, Melia Chapman, who had had similar visits with other women, whose lives had been wrecked. “We were thinking the same thing,” said O’Brien. “Taking the things that the world had destroyed and having God redeem it, using women who had gone through this,” said O’Brien.
The words “wrecked and worthy” were given to them. So were ideas of women who could share. Christine DeMoss, who shared at the Thanksgiving service, was one. Chapman brought up a friend, Kerri Shirkey. They reached out to Carrie Selby, a gifted singer in Albia’s Cornerstone Church, and asked her to lead worship, although they had to wait for her to return from a mission trip to India. She put together a worship team that included Katy Dykes of Centerville, Addyson O’Brien on piano, Richard Silva on guitar, John Williams on keyboard, A.J. Williams on lead guitar and Misty Smith on drums.
They came from a half dozen church backgrounds and decided to put on the one-day conference in May of 2018 at the Lighthouse Nazarene Church in Moravia. “As we prayed about it and announced the event on Facebook, we were hoping for 40 people,” said O’Brien.
Seventy registered. A positive sign. When the Saturday in May of 2018 arrived, 250 women showed up. By all accounts, the testimony was riveting. The music and worship wonderful. And things started to grow. “A number of women asked for a fall retreat,” said Chapman. “And we wanted to do it smaller and more intimate. We thought about doing some crafts and some other things you wouldn’t normally do in a big auditorium.”
They rented the Albia Country Club. Two hundred thirty women registered, so many that they had to shut off registration and turn people away. “It was amazing,” said Selby. A regular on mission trips to Mexico and India, she was led to have a Spanish interpreter and the retreat was done in English and Spanish and there were non-English speaking women in the audience who heard the message and music in their own language.
There were women from virtually every church in the area and a large number (maybe 70-80 percent) who weren’t regular with church attendance. And about 75 percent of those who came to the second event were new. “It’s not an exclusive club,” said O’Brien. “It’s for women who are hungry for the word of God and are open to being transformed by the Holy Spirit.”
And the women who attended asked for more. “We’re just five every day, working moms and homemakers,” said O’Brien. “And our only advertising was through social media.”
Since the fall retreat, the still relatively organizing group of five have put together a web page, an online Bible study and have been led to get their message out to area media. They have a plan to live stream the next event, set for Saturday, May 5 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The day includes sharing and testimony, worship and music and lunch at the Lighthouse Church of the Nazarene. Registration is $25 and can be accessed through the Wrecked and Worthy web page.
The spring theme will have to do with holiness and repentance. None of the five women fully understand why they been called to do what they’re doing. “Women are in a constant state of competition,” said O’Brien. “To be a good enough wife, to look good enough, to have kids who measure up. We don’t understand that we’ve been given a life-changing purpose and that we can find contentment and worth through Christ. And that none of us are created for the same purpose.”