The second annual Hope for Wholeness Network conference seemed to have a central focus. It was not homosexuality, it was not struggle, and it was not change or freedom. It was Jesus. The conference theme, Hope Rising, took me back to Psalm 113:3. “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.”
I always feel a little closer to Heaven when I’m at Ridgecrest. The serene surroundings, the morning clouds touching the mountaintops, the family setting, and the welcoming volunteers and staff all create a place that feels like a safe home. I try not to miss a detail, knowing that this is the exact opposite of the true home life of some of those attending the conference.
This was evident as we gathered in general sessions. The worship was sweet and the teachings rich, and at the end of the conference many wanted to linger. We came hungry for fellowship, thirsty for acceptance. We weren’t disappointed as time after time we were reminded that what matters most is our identity in Christ. The labels we’ve adopted or the names we’ve been assigned by our peers mean nothing when they are contrary to the person God has created us to be. Each speaker presented this truth in a unique way.
In this conference, unlike many that I have attended in my 33 years of ministry, everyone seemed to come to the same level. Teachers and leaders showed vulnerability and received healing. Those who came feeling worthless were shown value and acceptance. It’s true that when the water rises everyone on board rises with it.
The governing board of HFW met on Sunday afternoon following the conference. We wanted to revel in the wonder of God’s gifts as we had experienced them during the weekend, which made it hard to get down to business. It was our first meeting after adding three new board members this past year, and we all agreed that the Hope Rising Conference was exactly the kind of ministry to which God has called us. In providing direction for this ministry, it is our goal that God and his intent for us as individuals and as a network remain our focus.