Category Archives: Rethink Women

Freedom Under Fire

“This is a sad day for the cause of freedom. When the Supreme Court cannot clear their calendar to hear a case of this magnitude, then our freedoms are in jeopardy. Such censorship and discrimination should not be permitted in America.”
John W. Whitehead,
The Rutherford Institute

The United States Supreme Court has refused to hear the case of a high school valedictorian whose microphone was turned off by school officials after she began speaking about the part her Christian beliefs played in her success in life. Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute had asked the Court to hear the case of Brittany McComb, charging that school officials violated McComb’s free speech rights and engaged in viewpoint discrimination when they censored her speech because of its Christian content. The Court issued the order denying the petition without additional explanation.

“This is a sad day for the cause of freedom,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “When the Supreme Court cannot clear their calendar to hear a case of this magnitude, then our freedoms are in jeopardy. Such censorship and discrimination should not be permitted in America.”

In the spring of 2006, Brittany McComb was one of three valedictorians chosen based on their grade-point averages to give a speech at Foothill High School’s annual commencement ceremony. Each valedictorian was provided with “suggestions” for crafting their speeches. However, school officials neither encouraged nor forbade the students to include or exclude religious content from their speeches. In her speech, Brittany reflected on past experiences and lessons learned at school and wrote about the emptiness she experienced from accomplishments, achievements and failures in her early high school years. She then mentioned the fulfillment and satisfaction she later came to experience in something greater than herself, namely, in God’s love, and Christ.

Upon receiving a copy of Brittany’s draft speech, school administrators proceeded to censor her speech, deleting all three Bible references, several references to “the Lord” and the only mention of the word “Christ.” Believing that the district’s censorship of her speech amounted to a violation of her right to free speech, on June 15, 2006, Brittany attempted to deliver the original version of her speech in which she talked about the role that her Christian beliefs played in her success. The moment Brittany began to speak the words, school officials cut off her microphone. Despite extensive jeers from the audience over the school officials’ actions, McComb was not permitted to finish her valedictory speech.

With the assistance of The Rutherford Institute, Brittany McComb filed a First Amendment lawsuit against Foothill High School officials in July 2006. In June 2007, the U.S. District Court for Nevada rejected the school district’s second attempt to have the case dismissed and affirmed that the lawsuit raises substantial claims of infringement of McComb’s right of free speech. School officials subsequently appealed to the Court of Appeals, which dismissed the case, holding that McComb had no right to give her speech, which it deemed to be “proselytizing.”

Despite the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the McComb case, John Whitehead points out that the battle is far from over. “As we see our freedoms constantly under attack, be reminded that The Rutherford Institute continues to defend those whose freedoms are in jeopardy,” stated Whitehead. “In fact, we have two more cases on appeal before the United States Supreme Court. In the first, Nurre v. Whitehead, the courts have ruled that public school students cannot perform Christian music at a graduation ceremony, even without spoken words or printed lyrics. In the second, Busch v. Marple Newtown School District, the courts have affirmed that a Christian mother cannot read a passage from the Psalms to her child in kindergarten, while other parents are permitted to read whatever they choose.”

The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit legal and educational civil liberties organization, provides legal assistance at no charge to individuals whose constitutional rights have been threatened or been violated.

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No Room For Fear

I was anxious to have my daughter and son-in-law over for breakfast. The grandkids would be over too and I was looking forward to squeezing them and planting wet kisses on their soft cheeks. It wasn’t often that they came over for an early morning breakfast. I had dug out an old recipe for homemade buttermilk pancakes. The table was already set and the sausage was warming in the oven. They would be arriving any time.

My concern over the flakiness of the pancakes soon faded as I watched their van come down the driveway. It came to a slow stop just outside the kitchen window. I knew something was wrong and I was overcome by fear. Certainly, I would not have to hear bits of bad news…or would it be the familiar dreaded news again? It appeared that they were arguing but I could not tell for sure. I just wondered why they were not coming in and the feelings of fear continued to mount. Moments passed before the kitchen door opened…I could feel tension in the air. The news I had feared would haunt me again, “Mom, we relapsed again last night.” I felt as though my legs would buckle and it was all I could do to stand. The news was too much. How could I go through this again? I had thought they were doing better, but deep down, did I really believe that? I had high hopes.

We all sat down to eat, trying to pretend that it would be okay and that we could get through this again. I wished I could have bragged about how great the pancakes were and I pretended to enjoy them but nothing was further from my mind. It was all I could do to keep the bites from coming back up my throat. We had to get through this. We were all affected, even the three babies looking back at me from behind plates of half eaten pancakes. They had no idea of the severity of the situation and the thought of it broke my heart. I couldn’t stop the questions from invading my every thought. Did they know what they were about to endure again? How were they going to get through this yet one more time? Why did they have to go through this? Would they be safe? Would they be exposed to the drug abuse? Since their parents had relapsed, would life go back to what it was for them the first time it had happened? A million questions and not one answer. Fear and anxiety robbed me of my senses and all I wanted to do was jump up and run as fast as I could. I had to get away but all I could do was sit…I was angry. I was numb.

Fear, what a horrible thing. In my opinion, there is no other feeling that could be worse. It had claimed me for many years and I could not overcome it. I had feared many things. I feared for my kids as they were growing up; I worried about finances, stresses over my job. But nothing could compare to this. How could my child, one who I loved so much and one who I had invested so much time in, go so astray? Was it my fault? What did I do wrong? Had I not instilled God’s word into her heart as good as I could have? Would my child become so addicted that the addiction would take her away from me? Feelings of failure and the what-ifs haunted me. I was now on a journey of torment, brought upon by my own sin of unbelief. I had to let go of it, I could not fix it. All of the worry was getting me nowhere. It was destroying my spirit and robbing my joy. God was the only one who could take care of it but I was not allowing Him to do that.

Fears had driven me into a spiritually dry place and it was hard to even pray. I often opened my Bible at night and placed it upon my belly as I tried to sleep. Although scripture seemed to run together in my mind and I had a hard time focusing upon it, I felt comfort that upon my belly was the sword of the spirit. It was a protection and a huge comfort for me.

A lot has changed since then. I have learned that you cannot live in fear and in faith at the same time. They are enemies. Fear does not work and it gives you no relief. When we bask in fear and worry, we block the blessings that God has for us. When we worry, we meditate on fearful things and we feed them, fuel the fire so-to-speak. When we feed them, they grow and soon our worries are out of control and are far greater than our minds can safely endure. We instead need to focus on the promises of God and meditate on them day and night. We can cast our fears on Jesus, realizing that He is the only one who can make a difference and the only one who can fix the problems and stresses in our life. We need to believe that God does have everything under control.

Now, when worries come my way and when fear tries to settle in, I just begin to praise the Lord, the maker of the universe and the lover of my soul. When I sing, sometimes to myself or sometimes quietly, I tell God how great He is and thank Him for all the things He has done for me. I choose not to fear and it is a conscious decision on my part. My human side tries to hold on to the fear but I must let it go. Although at times it is difficult to praise – a real sacrifice – but it’s the key to a sound mind. Are these the sacrifices of praise that the Bible talks about? We must know too that Satan will distract us because he knows that God delights in the praises of His people.

God is so big and ready to help. He just waits for us to ask. But we so often hold on to our problems, not trusting God to help us. It is unbelief and it grieves God’s heart. This is something I don’t want to ever do again. I’m learning to totally depend on God, and to trust Him in times of despair. I can’t say I am one hundred percent “cured” and that I don’t fear on occasion, but I have learned to turn it over to God and I do not allow myself to meditate on those fearful things for long. What a comfort it is for me to know that God is always with me. He sees my hurts, my disappointments, and feels my broken heart.

Wow, what kind of friend is that?

Psalms 46.11 (KJV) says that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Also, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6 NIV). Lord, keep my mind safe and bring me peace! I love Psalms 16:11 (NIV) where David says “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” That is where I want to be. If I am there in God’s presence and full of joy, there is no room for fear. Praise be to God, my Rock and my Fortress.

Josephine Turnbeck is a financial officer and a mother of two. She enjoys spending time with her famly, working in the yard, and reading a book by the comfort of a warm fire. You can contact her at josephineturnbeck@gmail.com.

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The Power of the Spoken Word

What is known about the power of the spoken word? The words that we speak out loud or the words that are silently kept in our heads are very powerful. The moment you speak something, you give birth to it. Words are similar to seeds as they are planted in our subconscious minds. They take root, grow, and produce fruit of the same kind. Whether positive or negative words are spoken, we will reap exactly what we sow. That’s why we need to be extremely careful of what is thought and said. Blessings or curses can be spoken with just a few mere words.

In James 3:4, the Bible compares the tongue to the rudder of a huge ship. Although the rudder is small, it controls the ship’s direction. Similar to how the tongue will control the direction of one’s life. An environment can be created for either good or evil with words, and you are going to live in the world you created. If you’re always complaining and talking about how bad life is treating you, you’re going to live in a pretty miserable world. However, God wants us to use our words to change our negative situations. Some people are trying to live in blessings of the Lord while still talking like the devil. We must not make that mistake. We will not see positive results in our daily lives if we speak negative things.

We need to change our day to day thinking. If I had a head cold, and a friend noticed my coughing and runny nose they might say, “Oh my you sound sick! You look terrible!” I think our normal response might be, “Yeah, I feel terrible,” or “Yeah, I just want to crawl under a rock!” But what if we said something else like, “I don’t feel very good, but I am asking God to heal me. “ (That kind of changes our attitude a little). That allows the Holy Spirit to heal us. To say things like, “Nothing good ever happens to me,” will literally prevent you from moving ahead in life. That’s why you must learn to guard your tongue and speak only faith-filled words over your life.

Mark 11:23-24
“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

The Bible clearly tells us to speak to our mountains! Maybe your mountain is a sickness, or a troubled relationship, or a business deal. Usually when we have mountains in our lives we talk about them, but God‘s word tells us to talk TO them. Whatever your mountain is, you must do more than think about it, more than pray about it. You must speak to that obstacle. So what do we say to our mountains? What we say must line up with the Word of God. We speak about God’s will and His Word. In Luke 4, when Jesus was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He answered every trial with the Word of God. He said repeatedly, “IT IS WRITTEN,” and quoted Scriptures that met the devil head on, even though Satan came back at him with Scriptures. (Yes the devil knows the Bible!!!) What do you do when you NEED the words? Ask God to give them to you. Speak in the spirit.

Proverbs 18:21says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it.” Think about the words that come out of our mouths. They can bring blessing or destruction, not only in our lives but also in the lives of others.

Understanding negative talk is not enough. When you believe God’s Word and begin to boldly confess it with your mouth, mixing it with your faith, you are actually confirming that truth and making it valid in your life. God has great things in store for us. He wants to bless us. He wants us to declare those blessings.

Proverbs 12:18 says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Whether we realize it or not, our words affect our children’s future for good or evil. We need to speak loving words of approval and acceptance, words that encourage, inspire, and motivate our family members. When we do that, we speak blessings into their lives. Too often we are harsh and fault finding with our children. Our negative words will cause our children to lose the sense of value God has placed within them, and can allow the enemy to bring all kinds of insecurity into their lives. What are you passing down to the next generation? A Blessing is not a blessing until it is spoken. Your children need to hear you say such words as “I love you. I believe in you. I think you are great. I know you can do it. You are smart. You are incredible. I’m so proud of you.” They need to hear your approval. They need to feel your love. They need your blessing. We talk about being God’s hands and feet…. We are also God’s mouthpiece (mouth peace).

Now knowing God’s word, I am learning to declare the Word of God!! Instead of saying, “I can’t believe God or anyone else could love a sinner like me,” I read 2 Corinthians 5:17, and instead declare “I AM A NEW CREATURE IN CHRIST: OLD THINGS HAVE PASSED AWAY, BEHOLD ALL THINGS ARE BECOME NEW.” Instead of complaining about all the things that are going wrong in my life, I can declare the Word of God in Eph 4:27. It says, “I will not give the devil a foothold in my life. I resist the devil and he has to flee.” When I think about the abusive people in my past and dwell on that darkness, I can read 1John 2: 11 that says, “I do not hate or walk in unforgiveness.” “I cast all of my cares on the Lord for He cares for me.” (1Peter 5:7)

Joel 3:10, “Let the weak say I AM STRONG!” Start positively talking to yourself as being healed, happy, whole, blessed, and prosperous. Stop talking about how big your mountains are and start telling your mountains how big your God is!

Renee’ Oviatt grew up in Germany, Japan, and various states in the USA. Renee’ is a recient graduate of Ministry Training Institute and is a key volunteer for the Salem Dream Center. Renee’ lives in West Salem with her husband Craig, her daughter Courtney, Bella (the Beagle) and Thunderbolt (the turtle). She has a son, Justin, three stepchildren, Amanda, Chris and Melissa, and one granddaughter, Natalie.

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Now Is The Time To Go

Almost daily, a young white woman walks through the streets of a South Africa shantytown that is still hurting and divided after the oppressive former “Apartheid” government. Young children with crusty noses and mouths run up to grab her hand, barely dodging a honking taxi. She passes by large, humming South African mamas standing over open grills, cooking animal entrails and sheep’s heads, surrounded by mangy, rib protruding dogs, hoping for just a morsel of meat to fall to the ground. Hip Hop music vibrates out of the local “Shabeen” as the thumping base notes seem to resonate through her chest as she avoids with a smile the beer inspired men on the streets, hoping to lure her over for a suggestive conversation.

As her pedestrian trek continues past drafty tin roofed shacks, she passes a seated Sangoma, (sacred woman) who brings empty promises to this poor township of cures for HIV, broken hearts and the usually empty pockets of the tribal Xhosa people of Masiphumelele. The Sangoma will employ charms and chants designed to summon up the help and power of long dead tribal ancestors. Bethany O’Connor keeps walking and smiling and waving to friends and acquaintances, but this 27 year old American woman, who seems maybe a bit out of place, projects a different kind of presence and power as she moves through this poor township that has captured her heart. O’Connor’s mission is to bring healing and hope through extending what she believes is the most powerful force on the face of the earth — The tender kindness and unconditional love of a living God.

If you had told O’Connor just a couple years before that she would be strolling through an infamous black township where many local white people would tremble to find themselves, she too would have laughed in your face. Originally from Salem, Oregon (Sprague High School 2000) , and a 2004 Social Work graduate of Oral Roberts University (Masters Degree from University of Oklahoma), she was first introduced to the rich and complicated culture of South Africa through a business and community development trip with her father in mid 2007. Her father, Joe O’Connor and a non profit foundation he runs (www.csdcouncil.org) has been involved in designing & advocating for new Christian based community enrichment centers in poverty stricken neighborhoods. Little did Bethany know that this fun, father-daughter bonding trip overseas would play a pivotal role that would change the course and direction of her life.

“During that trip, Capetown struck me as a complicated, beautiful and yet sad place where I could for sure see my self living and working some day in the distant future”. O’Connor continues, “But my vision and goals at the time were pretty focused and I felt obligated to get back to Portland, Oregon and further my Social Work career in a fulfilling and good paying job”.

But God seemed to have another timetable. After 3 months of excellent and encouraging job interviews, O’Connor started to wonder if maybe God had different plans for her immediate future. O’Connor remembers, “On the drive home from one interview , I had this “revelation moment” and I heard this inner prompting seem to say specifically – “Now is the time to go, I have different & better plans for you”. O’Connor found herself pondering the meaning of this inner voice as she found her mind wandering to the poverty, squalor and large beaming smiles of the people in the slum townships around Capetown.

In a surprisingly quick staccato of events, O’Connor found herself making some critical life changing decisions. Within weeks she was selling her car, storing her possessions, researching airfare and housing and launching headlong into an orientation course with a creative outside the box ministry founded by Floyd McClung, the legendary leader and pioneer of the large YWAM ministry in the infamous Amsterdam red light district. During this training course in Capetown, called CPX (Church Planting Experience) O’Connor was encouraged and counseled by McClung to dream big and find the cultural keys that can touch the hearts and needs of people living in fear and repression, especially in poverty stricken areas.

“Masiphumelele” is the name of the informal settlement where O’Connor works. Also known as “Site 5” by the former apartheid government, “Masi” was one of many squatters villages that sprung up in the 60’s and 70’s under the white dominated governing party as a “solution” to try and limit the mixing of different races. At that time, it was not unusual to see forcibly evicted families and their belongings loaded in trucks and literally dumped on the barren ground on the outskirts of the populated areas. Masi developed as a squatters camp during this same era, and even today hosts many refugees, living in sparse and drafty shacks, who have come to South Africa from other African nations, seeking a better life.

It has only been 14 years since apartheid has ended. O’Connor says she can still sometimes detect the wounded and rejected spirit reflected in people’s eyes when she, a white person, engages them in conversation. There is also a palpable tension between black people of tribal origin and the mixed race “coloured” people that further creates cultural complications.

In the midst of this rich and cultural dynamic, O’Connor moves about on her daily mission to bring hope and practical tangible services to families, abandoned mothers and vulnerable children. In her early days working in Masi, O’Connor encountered a white South African woman, Michelle Pughe-Parry, who also reflected a passion and concern for at risk mothers and the secret shame of baby dumping. Together they teamed up to research and address the causative issues head on. O’Connor’s heart was both outraged and pierced at the thought of a mother being so desperate for food, shelter and basic survival needs that she would literally throw her baby away in the garbage. O’Connor’s research and resulting community networking led her to create a remarkable solution known as “The Baby Safe” which has now become known throughout much of the Capetown region (population 2 million +) . O’Connor says – “If there is one thing I have become more and more convinced of, it is that God is a refuge to the oppressed and He loves to channel His love and hope to the brokenhearted, the fatherless and to the desperate. A scripture that O’Connor clings to that reflects this is – “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, defend the cause of the weak, advocate for the rights of the needy.”

After 8 months of research, networking with government officials and involving other faith based poverty initiatives, The Baby Safe was launched as an official ministry/sub organization of McClung’s organization- All Nations of South Africa. The Baby Safe, installed at a church owned site within walking distance of Masi, is a simple engineering marvel consisting of a safe, tamper proof steel deposit door with a small weight sensitive shelf with a mattress inside. The technology, developed by a volunteer Christian engineer from Sweden, is wired and monitored to detect the presence of a baby by sensing the weight of .5 kilograms or more (about 1.2 lbs). O’Connor explains – “When the door is opened and a baby is placed inside, the sensors detect the weight and activates the system which simultaneously locks the door and sends out electronic messages to Baby Safe team volunteers who can literally respond within 3 – 4 minutes.”

As important as offering the Baby Safe itself, a myriad of services and resources are now also offered to at risk young mothers (often as young as 14 years old). Word of mouth and colorful posters that are plastered all over Masi and other nearby communities have gotten the word out about The Baby Safe. Word has also spread beyond Masi and O’Connor is now deluged with invitations from government groups, radio talk shows, hospital counseling staffs and other agencies that have opened doors for her to become involved in pre-natal counseling, pre-abortion counseling, job development, and identifying and intervening in vulnerable households. “I feel like the heart of Baby Safe is to connect with women, babies and children to offer life, hope and options”, says O’Connor. “ I have been profoundly blessed as I have watched many women (on almost a weekly basis) cancel their scheduled abortions, explore the options of adoption, and many have received encouragement and other resources that actually empower them to choose to keep and raise their babies.”

O’Connor has also been instrumental in helping to launch the Vulnerable Children’s Project (www.vulnerablechildrensa.com) that provides food, clothing, bedding and also addresses the safety of groups of children living alone in shacks in the township. These child headed households often have a parent who is either sick in the hospital (usually with AIDS) or already deceased , leaving brothers and sisters all on their own, with only the eldest child to care for them. O’Connor comments- “This VC program allows us to link compassionate supporters and donors in the West with a Masi child headed household to meet their basic food, housing and clothing needs, all for only $40 a month for each child headed family, which is pretty amazing.” She continues- “We also are able to provide bible clubs, after school mentoring and tutoring, better school placement and other “Big Brother- Big Sister” type friendship to these incredibly resilient kids.”

O’Connor observes that it would be easy to have a sense of utter hopelessness in the face of the cyclical ravages of poverty, crime and the AIDS epidemic that she sees daily in Masi. “ I often struggle with the weight of the immense need and wonder how I could ever make even a little dent” says O’Connor. “But always, almost every day, I am amazed and stunned at the extravagant love of God for the poor. Jesus and his loving kindness comes shining through when I meet women and children in crisis and wonder what on earth can I do? I used to be very self sufficient, smart enough to figure most things out and not really feel the pressure to rely on God for every day things in my life. But now, many times a day, His voice, direction and peace are literally my lifeline.”

This remarkable American girl shares that one of her biggest personal lessons while serving in a poor township has been grasping the meaning of John 15 where it says “I can do absolutely nothing apart from Him. He is the vine, I am the branches”. She continues, “I have come to the realization of how ridiculously dependent I am on Him, to try and bear fruit and to have wisdom in the face of decisions that bear so much weight- many involving life and death of little ones.”

O’Connor is an ordinary young woman who has found herself doing extraordinary things. She is a full time mission worker who is 100% dependent on the financial gifts and monthly support of people that have heard her remarkable story. If you are interested in finding out more about her work and mission you can visit her website at www.bethanyoconnor.com. There is a “Give” page on her website for people who want to get involved and have a tangible impact on serving the poor through her efforts in South Africa. You can also learn more about The Baby Safe at www.thebabysafe.org.

lindsayaboutus If you know of an ordinary person who is doing extraordinary things, then feel free you can share their story with Lindsay Goodier who is a writer and author living in Houston, Texas. She has enjoyed being published in numerous magazines including Relevant Magazine, Rethink Monthly Magazine and other publications. You can contact Lindsay at lindsaygoodier@yahoo.com.

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A Chick With A Mission

Recently we sat down with Becca Wells, the founder and brains behind an all new podcast that’s all things girl. She’s a little wild and crazy, but we like her because she makes you think.

Take us back a few years and tell how your journey with Christ began.

I can’t complain about growing up. I am the middle of three girls born to loving, Christian parents. I have a slight recollection of accepting Christ as my Savior when I was four. I was a good kid. I knew the right answers. I knew that God loved me and I loved Him. Was I seeking, hungry, growing? Not until the summer before my senior year in high school. I went on a mission trip with Royal Servants. For three months we traveled in Europe performing a drama and evangelizing to perfect strangers. I couldn’t fake what I believed for that long. Louie, my leader, pulled me aside one evening and we had a very engaging conversation. He asked me if I were to die tonight and God was standing there asking why He should let me into Heaven, what would I say? That did it. I truly didn’t know. Instantly I was in tears and thus began my journey with Christ.

Yeah, He seems to be good at capturing our hearts. So tell me, how did the crazy idea for ChickChat come about anyway?

It was always my intent to be a stay-at-home mom when I had kids. I worked up until the day before I had Melia. Suddenly, I was home alone with this amazing little baby who ate, cried, and pooped a lot. I realized then and there what a relational being I am. I love connecting and interacting with other people. I was almost completely house-bound those first few months tending to this little human and I was struggling. I felt so alone. My poor husband probably wondered what happened to his wife. Nobody knew exactly how I felt.

Nobody could walk my road for me. It was my journey to figure out. I remember thinking “I wonder how many other women could be experiencing this type of intense loneliness in their lives?” With my heart for young ladies and my empathetic situation, I believe was the perfect recipe for Christ to give me this vision. I didn’t know how, where, or who else…but the dream was alive.

And how did you take this dream and make it a reality?

Let me remind you that Melia was a newborn when this idea first hit and she is now four years old. It’s been a process. I’ve gone through a lot of self doubt, soul searching, praying, and dreaming what this ministry would look like. I had worked with Erik (Williams) in the past and I knew if anyone could help me pull off this idea, it was him. We began meeting periodically where we brainstormed and planned what this ministry would look like. We went forward with it and started recording a few sessions. Bex (Mann) is a friend that helped record our first session of ChickChat. The three of us…it was such a great dynamic. We asked her to join the team and thus a wonderful partnership emerged.

Talk more about the mission of ChickChat. What is it? Why is it?

ChickChat is a website ministry where you’ll find thirty minute podcasts on topics that have to do with women. Our tag line is “An open and honest discussion all things girl.” Really, no topic is off limits. Most podcasts you’ll find the ChickChat team interviewing guest speakers who share with us on a certain topic. For example, we may bring in a doctor, an esthetician, or dietician to talk about personal wellness and how to feel our absolute best when it comes to health and skin.

We also interview every-day women who have wisdom to share. Maybe they themselves have been through a difficult time and want to encourage others who face similar situations. The sky’s the limit… Another cool feature is that the listener will be able to email us questions, comments, suggestions for future podcasts that they are interested in or concerned about.

The mission of ChickChat is simple: explore, expand, and equip. Explore what’s out there. Like new experiences, friendships, people, and questions. Expand ways of thinking in regards to perspective, choices, comfort zones, relationships with people, and faith in God. The ultimate goal being to equip yourself with knowledge. My hope is to encourage and empower all women. And have fun! I want to have a good time.

What motivates you to start something real (and candid) like this ministry?

Jesus Christ’s love. My two little baby chicks here at home inspire and motivate me too. I want them to see themselves as Jesus sees them and live big for Him. I really desire this for all chicks.

You’ve felt a call to minister to women and teen girls for quite some time. Is that passion the driving force behind this new ministry?

Absolutely. This ministry is by chicks for chicks. I am so energized by fellow women talking about what they know and their experience in life. ChickChat is something positive that challenges and offers hope all the while interacting on very relatable ground. It is very exciting to me and I’m extremely passionate about our mission.

There was a point for me where I knew this was something I had to do. Back when I was a youth pastor and before the dream of ChickChat had hit, a girl had written me a letter. She had gone through a hard time in her life and had dealt with an addiction. She felt led to tell me about her tough journey, and how she was dealing with this pain in her life. Fast forward to about a year ago, I came across this letter that I didn’t realize I had kept. I was blown away because in this letter my friend specifically said she felt called to tell other girls about her experience but didn’t know how. That was it. I realized it wasn’t about me. It’s always been about God. He was inviting me to be a part of this opportunity. I knew this was something that I had to pursue.

I guess we’d call you adventurous. Working with teenagers can be pretty crazy. Is that the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

I’d have to say that marriage was the craziest thing I’ve ever done! NO, I’m Just kidding! Adventurously speaking, I quit my job once and backpacked across Europe for four months. I ended up staying at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland for a bit. Fabulous – I highly recommend that place.

We promise we won’t show this interview to your husband! So, is this targeted to teenage girls or is there a specific age range of women you’re trying to reach?

Not necessarily. To me all women are chicks, girls at heart. We’re going to focus on a quality, fun, insightful podcast and let chicks decide if it’s for them or not.

How do you see ChickChat evolving over the next couple of years?

I have been so focused and determined on getting ChickChat up and going. It has been fun and my dreams are expanding for the future of this ministry. I do have some big dreams in mind. But for now, I want to focus on making this current program sharp where women can relate and connect.

Ok, lastly, give us five words that describe yourself.

Honest, friendly, loyal, hard-working, & responsible. Oh – that sounds boring. Let me try that again. Crazy, wild, out-of-the-box, funny, & loud. I like those five words better.

Becca Wells is a thirty year old, mother of two girls – Melia (4) and Kylie (1) – whose been married to the same, wonderful guy (Josh) for almost six years. She graduated from Seattle Pacific University where she majored in Educational Ministries and obtained a teaching degree in elementary education. Her last job, before motherhood, was an assistant middle school pastor at a local church in Salem, Ore. She has always been a very relational person and enjoys getting to know people and finding out what they’re all about. She loves to do anything active, especially when it involves outdoors. Often times Becca feel very normal but want to live extraordinarily. Find out more about Becca and the ChickChat team at www.chickchatpodcast.com.

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Finding Jesus

I knew when I decided to take an eleven-day trip overseas last year that I would see things that would wake me up, things that would change me. That’s partly why I wanted to go so badly. I wasn’t disappointed. Shortly after flying from the US to the Philippines, I found myself at a home run by a group of nuns with some of the most beautiful hearts. It’s a place for the very sick, the very old, and the very young. It’s a place for those that have the least chance of surviving on the streets of Manila. It’s often a place for them to spend a few weeks or days of their lives being cared for and shown the love of Jesus before they die.

Walking inside the front door of the first house in the compound, there were kids everywhere, more than one piled on some of the small beds. Dying kids. Kids with diseases like encephalitis or tuberculosis. I looked at the few nuns scurrying from one child to the next and realized that there was no way they could possibly care for so many children properly. I guess they just couldn’t turn anyone away despite the overcrowding. The smell in the air proved that many of the children needing washing or changing. Overwhelmed, I looked up and caught the eyes of one of the sisters. “How can I help you?” A few minutes later, I found myself sitting cross-legged on the floor holding a bowl of runny rice gruel. Gathered around me in a semi-circle were half a dozen tiny malnourished toddlers. They reminded me of scrawny baby birds, opening their mouths and staring at me with eyes that seemed too huge for their tiny bodies. The bowl was empty all too soon. One of the sisters took it from me and motioned to me that she would take care of the babies.

I stood up and wandered into another room, this one holding children of various ages with handicaps or deformities. I found myself drawn to a yellow crib near the center of the room. In it lay a child whose limbs were badly twisted and bent, looking like nothing more than a tangled mass of skin and bone, really. The child’s hair was closely shaved, and I couldn’t determine the sex. It was impossible to tell the age of the child – could have been 7, could have been 13. The child couldn’t speak and didn’t have much mobility, but was responsive to my voice. I watched as the child’s eyes fluttered open and fixed on me. I reached down and grasped the child’s hand, and my grip was returned firmly. I began to sing softly, an old hymn my mother sang to me as a little girl, as tears began to well up in my eyes:

“I am Jesus’ little lamb
Ever glad at heart I am
For my Shepherd gently guides me
Knows my needs and well provides me
Loves me every day the same
Even calls me by my name”

It struck me how fitting those words were. I didn’t know this child’s name, or anything else besides what I could observe, standing beside that crib. But I didn’t need to. This child was known and loved intimately by the Good shepherd who gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart (Isaiah 40:11). I knew that the indescribable love that I felt flooding through me for this unknown child was not mine, and I felt privileged to be an extension of Jesus, holding that hand and singing the words that He wanted to be sung to that child. I think that my words were understood despite the barriers of language and physical disability.

“Who so happy as I am
Even now the Shepherds lamb
And when my short life is ended
By His angel hosts attended
He shall fold me to his breast
Ever in His arms to rest!”

As the last few words of the song escaped my lips, my friends began to call me, telling me that it was time to leave. I didn’t want to go, but I began to peel those little fingers off of mine. The child wouldn’t let go! I couldn’t believe that a child who looked so weak could have such a vice-like grip. And those eyes, they were starting to bore into me. I gently tugged my hand away. Not ready to give up, the child’s hand closed around a fistful of my hair as I bent over the crib. One of the sisters had to come over to help me disentangle myself.

My encounter with this child had lasted for only about three minutes, but those three minutes were enough to make me a misfit. I turned and walked out of the door of that room entirely wrecked. That’s when everything changed for me. I knew that I would never be able to go back to my life as it was before. That little one’s grip had reached around not only my hand but my heart, and I still haven’t been able to pull away. I will forever be thankful for my three minutes with Jesus in the form of that child.

a-004 Hannah Neumann is learning to become a global-thinking Christian. She enjoys random adventures, music, community, and learning from culture and history. You can connect with her at livingpsalm82@yahoo.com.

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Rethink Women

Thanks for visiting the page for our special issue of Rethink Women, a one-time publication brought to you by us (Rethink Monthly).

Please click here to view the magazine online. You can also read the articles in this issue by clicking on the appropriate links below.

Also, feel free to leave your thoughts about the publication in the comments section below.

FEATURED ARTICLES:

A Chick With A Mission
An interview with Becca Wells, founder and brains behind an all new podcast that’s all things girl

Finding Jesus
An article by Hannah Neumann

I Heart Dream Center
An article by Lindsay Blackman

Answers for Darwin
An event coming to Portland, Ore.

Now Is The Time To Go
A Local Salem Girl Steps Up And Steps Out: The Story of Bethany O’Connor

The Power of the Spoken Word
An article by Renee’ Marie LaRochelle Oviatt

No Room For Fear
An article by Josephine Turnbeck

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