Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Women Thriving God’s Way Retreat

What a joy it was, last weekend, to share with my sisters from Highland Bible Church of Woodland Park, Colorado at their fall retreat: Women Thriving God’s Way! Conferences are great for reaching out to women in your community and surrounding areas, but sometimes you need an event where it’s just family. Retreats provide an intimate atmosphere for the women of a local church to bond together as sisters in Christ. It was an honor to speak into HBC women’s family time.

I grew up in southern New Mexico, but I had never crossed our northern border into Colorado before, so it was exciting to touch down at the Colorado Springs airport.

First on the agenda was dinner with Pastor Jeff and his wife, Sharon (who kindly picked me up at the airport), and Adriana (who organized the retreat) and her husband Asa. In the body of Christ, you never meet a stranger, only extended family, and we had a wonderful time of fellowship together.

After dinner, Adriana and Asa checked me into the delightfully rustic Golden Bell Camp and Conference Center:

On Friday morning, Adriana and her daughter Jenny Lynn were so kind to take me around and show me some of the sights. The Colorado Springs area is home to a number of notable sites, including the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center, the United States Air Force Academy, Pike’s Peak, Focus on the Family, The Navigators, and their striking conference center, Glen Eyrie Castle.

Since our time was limited, we focused on two other sites I was particularly interested in, The Garden of the Gods, and Charis Bible College.

The Garden of the Gods is a beautiful area just outside of town, with huge sandstone rock formations set against Pike’s Peak as a majestic backdrop. It’s easy to ignore the evolutionary fairy tales about how the rocks and mountains were formed, because it’s more than obvious that God’s awesome creative hand was at work here!

After a great lunch at a local deli, we did a quick drive through tour of Charis Bible College. I know, kind of a weird choice for sightseeing if you know anything about the school. Or me.

Charis “Bible” College was founded by Andrew Wommack, a key figure in the New Apostolic Reformation / Word of Faith movement. If you’re at all familiar with Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry, Charis is kind of like that but with more of a “real” college atmosphere and approach. Still, students are required to take courses with titles like “Healing,” “Holy Spirit I & II,” “Establishing a Prosperous Soul,” and “Operating in God’s Best”. And yet the code of student conduct has the audacity to admonish:

“Spreading false doctrine is not allowed…it is not appropriate to…teach against the doctrines in Charis’ statement of faith.”

The campus is gorgeous and the surroundings enchanting.

I was intrigued by this unique speed limit sign (below). No explanation was posted, and I searched Charis’ website and the internet extensively to no avail. At first I thought it was a reference for a Bible verse, but I looked at every chapter 22 in the Bible, and the only 22:53 references I found were:

1 Kings 22:53: He served Baal and worshiped him and provoked the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger in every way that his father had done.

Luke 22:53: When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.

Pretty appropriate if you ask me, but I doubt Andrew Wommack would have chosen either of those verses.

The only other thing I found is that 22.53 km/hr is roughly equivalent to 14 mph, so…maybe that’s it? I don’t know. If you know, comment below. Curiosity is about to kill me! :0)

Not long ago, my friend Justin Peters was preaching at HBC, and he and Pastor Jeff took the time to visit a class. Needless to say, their questions weren’t welcome, and they were Kicked Out of Charis. I didn’t have time to do anything that would get me kicked out. :0) (You can see more of the opulent insides of the buildings in this video, too.)

We arrived back at Golden Bell in plenty of time to rest up for a fun and delicious dinner and “getting to know each other better” time of fellowship, followed by our first teaching session on biblical womanhood: Rock Your Role at Home and at Church.

Participant gift bags. Thanks, ladies! I really needed a new journal!

Saturday after breakfast, we got right down to business with our second session: Holy Mothers (and Others) of God’s Word, one of my favorites. We strolled through the Bible and took a brief look at the lives of several of our Old and New Testament sisters, and their examples of holiness to us.

Between teaching sessions and other activities, the ladies had the opportunity to craft these cute Christmas ornaments. They kindly gave me a couple to take home. What a treat!

Session 3, Practical Holiness, a look at practical ways to pursue holiness in our daily lives, came right after lunch. And after a fun afternoon of rest and recreation, capped off by a mouth-watering supper, we ended the day with teaching session 4, God’s Word: Our Foundation, addressing the necessity, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture.

I had to get up at 4 a.m. to catch my flight home the next morning, but it was worth it to be able to be with my own church family Sunday night. Flying on 9/11 was an interesting experience. The Colorado Springs airport asked us to observe a moment of silence in remembrance, and everyone respectfully complied.


Many thanks to Pastor Jeff, Sharon, Adriana, Jenny Lynn, Russ, Ely, and all of the HBC ladies who worked so hard to host a great retreat, took care of all my needs, and made me feel so welcome. If you’re ever in the Woodland Park area, be sure to stop in to Highland Bible Church for a visit!


If your church or organization is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information.


Photo Credits

All photos marked with a white star were taken by retreat attendees.

All other photos by Michelle Lesley

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