I was sharing with someone the other day about how my Public Speaking business/ministry got started. It wasn’t my idea; it was God’s. 🙂
An unexpected opportunity came when I was working as a volunteer counselor at Your Life Choice Center in Harrisonville, MO. The center’s founder, Wauthena Neely, was approached by a friend, who directed her church’s women’s Hearts At Home Bible study. They needed someone to speak at an upcoming study.
Wauthena knew my testimony of having had three abortions, and she recommended me to this woman and asked me if I’d share my powerful story. I’d never publicly given my testimony and was terrified, but Ray encouraged me to do it and God spoke to my heart to do it.
Turning things around 180 degrees
When I stood before that group of women, I felt like Daniel in the lions’ den. I was so afraid of judgment and rejection. My knees were also knocking, speaking in front of people.
The board members of the Hearts At Home study had bathed this day in prayer. They expected a stampede of women to rush to the front of the room when I invited women at the end of my testimony to come forward for prayer for forgiveness or healing about their abortions.
Not a soul did. The room was silent. I thought I was going to die!
What they hadn’t anticipated was that so many post-abortive women are bound in fear, shame, and condemnation as I’d been years before.
Despite my own roller-coaster emotions, I recognized what was happening. No one asked for prayer, but I knew that statistically, it was very likely that at least one woman was in the audience, who was suffering with the painful aftermath of abortion. And she was too scared to tell anyone.
My prayer is that somehow my testimony ministered hope and comfort to her about God’s unconditional love and forgiveness. Abortion is not the unforgiveable sin. God will forgive you for abortion and heal you when you come to Him.
Then He can even turn that situation around 180 to use you to minister to other women who have had one, as I can testify. While I was working at the pregnancy center, my story saved at least two babies from being aborted.
I’ve also shared my testimony many times since then and often have women come up to me afterward thanking me for sharing about God’s forgiveness, telling me their stories.
Your story can make a difference in someone’s life.
God’s sense of humor
That special day marked a new beginning for me: the launch of my Speaking career.
I was so scared to speak in front of that group of women. As I spoke, I was profusely sweating, physically shaking, and my voice quivered. It was one of the most terrifying things I’d ever done.
I wasn’t alone in my fear. Fear of public speaking is the number 2 fear of Americans, under fear of snakes according to a recent Gallup poll (other surveys show fear of heights or fear of disease is the no. 1 fear, but public speaking remains consistently the no. 2 fear. Most Americans are scared of speaking in front of an audience.)
God has a big sense of humor. I was the most unlikely of people to ever speak publicly. I’ve always been a shy, reserved introvert. My whole life, I’ve struggled with various fears, and talking in front of a group was one of the biggest one.
I related to the passage in the Bible where Moses was trying to convince God to send someone else to do the job.
“But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”
God then reminds Moses He made his mouth. “Then the LORD asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the LORD?”
When God calls, He equips
When I worked as a secretary years ago, I couldn’t even call a client on the phone in front of my boss, because it made me so nervous for him to hear what I would say. (God has done a lot of healing in me in the last 20 years!)
In high school, one of the required courses was Communication, and during that course we had to speak in front of the class. I’d shake and sweat and literally feel like I was going to faint. The other students would snicker at me. My teacher was wonderful, though, and she greatly encouraged me that I could do this.
Years later, my pastor, Al Ridge, told me that he believed I had spiritual gifts I’d never used, and that he saw me speaking in front of a lot of people. I laughed, telling him there was no way I was going to do that. (God had the last laugh!)
I’m so thankful to God for putting uplifting, positive people like that in my path. I look back on these things now, smiling, realizing even then God was preparing me for what I do today.
Obedience brings God’s blessing and favor. After I spoke at the Hearts At Home Bible study, God began to open other doors for me to speak. Originally, this was certainly nothing I sought out. I was so scared to speak in front of people, and I resisted and begged God not to make me do it. But God wouldn’t let me go. 🙂
My heart desired to obey Him, and Ray kept encouraging me to do it. Ray told me that I could conquer this fear and that the more I did it, the less nervous I would become. He was so right!
After awhile, I began to relax more when I was speaking and actually began to like doing it. Then I began to LOVE it!
God then spoke to my heart to begin speaking, sharing my story and His words of truth.
I attended CLASServices professional speakers/writers training in Saint Louis, MO, and Upper CLASS in Connecticut, with Tammy Bennett, Marita Littauer, and being critiqued by legend speaker Florence Littauer for my speaking. I joined Toastmasters.
And I said a big “Yes” to God.
Years before that first speaking event at the Hearts At Home Bible study, I lay on my bed in Olathe, Kansas, crying in a suicidal depression, and God gave me Isaiah 61 as my life chapter and verse.
“Beth, this is what I have called you to do and to be,” He spoke quietly to my heart as I opened my Bible to desperately search for a reason to live. It landed on that page.
At the time, it seemed impossible. Me set captives free when I was the mess I was?
God began to heal me from the pain of my past, and restore me. He turned my mess into a message.
God does it!
Every single speaking engagement I’ve ever received, God has sovereignly opened the door. I’ve never had to ask for one; they’ve approached me to ask me to speak at their women’s event.
I’ve spoken twice at Women’s Aglow in Kansas City. I was one of the keynote speakers at Norma Washington’s conference in Phoenix, Arizona. I’ve put on two women’s retreats to speak there and also had other women speakers joining me.
Last year God sent me on a cruise to the Bahamas to speak as one of the keynote speakers at Tony Robinson’s women’s conference. Then He sent me to Canada to speak as one of the keynote speakers at Doreen Penner’s women’s retreat.
This year I spoke as the keynote speaker at the PAUMCS Life and Leadership conference. I’ve spoken many other places the last two years. My next speaking engagement is April 13 at a ladies’ tea. I’m also hosting the RELEASED! Women’s Conference in Belton, MO, on April 27. (Are you signed up yet?!!!)
Today I love speaking in front of live audiences. It thrills and energizes me. It makes me happy. I want to go all over the world, traveling and speaking, encouraging women.
Today I’m living out my calling and purpose from God. Are you?
I am deeply aware that I don’t deserve for God to use me like this. It humbles and amazes me. That is why I always give Jesus Christ the glory, and always will. He is my everything. “In Him I live and move and have my being.” (Acts 17:28)
I do it for God’s glory and to encourage women’s hearts with God’s powerful words of truth to help set them free and to exhort them to use the great gifts God has given them for His glory. God’s word is truly coming to pass in my life.
Open your mouth wide. God will fill it with good things. Step out and obey, and just see what God will do.
Are you an event planner? Check out my Speaking page here.