Seeking to make a stand for justice, change and influence, a growing global movement of everyday women came together in Sydney at this week’s Colour Conference. Across two days of speakers and sessions, women who attended Colour were steadily called to head out into the world to serve God, in whatever way they can.
Hosted by Hillsong Global Senior Pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston, Colour Conference is Hillsong’s annual women’s conference. About 8000 women packed into different sessions to hear speakers led by “larger than life” Lisa Harper, and Sy Rogers, a leading voice on sexuality.
Colour kicks off each year in Sydney, and now boasts international versions of the conference in London, Cape Town, Kiev and USA.
Eternity’s Teagan Russell was at Colour and shares her response to being part of the two-day women’s summit.
It was pouring with rain when I arrived, but that didn’t wipe the smiles off the faces of the army of volunteers distinguished from the crowd by their “HERE TO SERVE” t-shirts – and that’s exactly what they did. I felt welcomed and, although I’d only just arrived at Colour, I already felt part of a wider “sisterhood” of women of all ages and backgrounds.
…there is something so formidable about 8000 women gathered in a theatre, singing praise and worship to God.
It helps that there is something so formidable about 8000 women gathered in a theatre, singing praise and worship to God. Especially when its led by international stars Brooke Fraser and Taya Smith, who were joined by a strong team of musicians.
Affectionately known by the Hillsong community as the “mother” of the house (or “mother dove”), Bobbie Houston gave the opening message. But this was not before her husband and co-senior pastor of Hillsong Church Global, Brian Houston, stood with her to welcome everyone. He also gave a quick talk about anticipation of what God would do in our lives, as we attended Colour.
“There is a God in heaven who believes in you. And the sisterhood believes in you.” – Bobbie Houston
This year’s theme was “Be Found In the Field” and Bobbie Houston wanted the huge crowd to know how much support and encouragement exists for Christian women, to pursue the things of God wherever they are in the world.
She used the Book of Genesis example of Abraham seeking a wife for his son Isaac as an illustration of her premise that “the feminine heart is a gift, a beautiful gift.”
“Our desire as a church is to champion womanhood in all beauty, strength and resilience,” she said. “There is a God in heaven who believes in you. And the sisterhood believes in you.”
She says God’s heart wells when he sees us standing tall, willing and waiting, near the “harvest fields” which “concern his heart so deeply.”
Thanks to the world of Instagram, I had heard of and seen Lisa Harper, and was eager to hear her her speak. She did not disappoint!
Harper is open about the fact that she is 53, single, and never been married, and became a mother for the first time at 50.
Lisa graced the stage following a short video package that introduced her and her recently adopted daughter, Missy Harper from Haiti.
The video summed up the two-year adoption process that Lisa was involved with. Seeing it created such a buzz in the room that as Lisa came on to the stage with her 7-year-old daughter, she received a standing ovation!
Humbly, she quickly told us all to sit down, and then doted over daughter Missy, who oozed confidence and health. Only minutes before, we had heard and seen how Missy had HIV AIDS, which she is now completely healed of.
“Our God is a redeemer – it’s never too late.” – Lisa Harper
It was a beautiful thing to witness Harper’s adopted daughter looking strong, happy and so loved.
It was easy to lose track of time listening to Lisa, as she told stories that had us giggling, and blushing. Harper is open about the fact that she is 53, single, and never been married, and became a mother for the first time at 50.
“Our God is a redeemer – it’s never too late,” she told us as she shared details of her difficult past.
Keeping with the theme of “Be found In the Field”, Lisa’s message was about how you can’t be found in the field unless you are found in God’s gaze.
She spoke from the book of Song of Solomon, saying that romance is part of the redemptive story, and if you don’t really understand the Old Testament, you don’t fully understand the beautiful gospel message of Jesus Christ.
“We won’t last in the field if we don’t linger in his affection,” explained Harper.
The Sisterhood Sessions
This was a more casual session with featured four Hillsong women in a relaxed panel Q & A session.
Julia A’bell and Cass Langton were two of the women present in the discussion and they shared openly about the everyday challenges of life, leadership, motherhood, and ordinary struggles such as loneliness and friendships.
It was the kind of discussion that you really felt part of, as if you were sitting in their lounge room having a chat over a cuppa.
I found this to be a refreshing and open dialogue that offered plenty of practical advice (and not just concepts or slogans).
Another vivacious personality who is difficult to summarise, Sy Rogers spoke at a million miles an hour, and every sentence was jam-packed with wisdom.
Formerly gay American pastor Sy Rogers is an international speaker, talk show host, and recording artist. He’s also widely regarded as a leading voice on sexuality and God’s character. Married since 1982, he and his family have lived in Singapore and the US and are currently based in New Zealand.
“Do not hate your weakness. God will meet you there.” – Sy Rogers
Rogers said it was remarkable that he had a public career because as a child he had a speech impediment. When he was 11, his stepmother dragged him to a speech pathologist to learn to communicate better.
“So while others might go out to play, and this was very embarrassing for me, there I dutifully was learning to say ba-ba-ba and ta-ta-ta. I thank God because God already had a plan even if I didn’t know,” he said.
“If you feel disqualified, do not leave God out of the equation … he’ll meet you at your weakness and empower you across that gap.” – Sy Rogers
“Do not hate your weakness. God will meet you there. That is sacred territory where you collaborate with God to go forward in his purpose. Do not be disqualified by weakness.”
Rogers said God always raises up the most unlikely candidates. “God raises up the weak things to confound the wise so that he is glorified. So do not hate your weakness. If you feel disqualified, do not leave God out of the equation … he’ll meet you at your weakness and empower you across that gap.More