Refueling Hope!


My memories of the Synergy Women’s Network are never far below the surface. It doesn’t take much for them to burst into life for me again.

That happened as I watched the historic Women’s March on January 20, knowing Synergy women were in those crowds.

Whenever another gifted Synergy writer gets published, I chalk up one more Synergy success. (Kudos to Lesa Engelthaler for her relentless mentoring/editing and to the publishers who scouted for new talent at our conferences!)

I get flashbacks of why Synergy got started in the first place every time I receive a S.O.S. email from a woman in ministry stranded “out there” somewhere and know exactly which of my Synergy friends will help her.

International Women’s Day reminded me of national Synergy conferences, the courageous work Christian women are doing all over the world, and the challenges and opportunities looming on the horizon.

Thoughts of Synergy and what God is doing through his daughters fill my heart with hope. No matter how dark things look, I know God’s kingdom is making headway because his daughters and sons are bearing light in all those dark places and we aren’t giving up.

Memories of Synergy2011 (our final national conference) came flooding back, along with the ongoing global plight of women that we considered there, when my friend Virginia Quarrier Knowles posted a couple of videos she recorded (see below) on Facebook. That conference was without a doubt our most honest look at the scope and ferocity of the battles Jesus calls us to fight and when our determination to engage surged.

The Synergy Legacy

Books & Culture ReviewSynergy conferences were always forward looking. We were (still are) passionate about God’s calling on our lives and energized by the challenges and opportunities before us.

Our 2011 conference theme was “The Rest of the Story: From Here to Eternity” and spread a more realistic yet hopeful and creative vision for our mission than ever before. Guest speakers that year were Andy Crouch, Nikki Toyama-Szeto, and Sheryl WuDunn.

Sheryl and her husband, Nicholas Kristof, co-authored the NYTimes bestseller, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The book’s name comes from the Chinese proverb, “Women hold up half the sky.” The book is a jarring global exposé of human rights violations against women and girls the authors describe as “the paramount moral crisis of the twenty-first century.” 

It’s a book every ministry leader should read!

Sheryl focused attention on the global plight of women and girls. The challenge in Half the Sky that convinced me this was an issue we as Christians need to address was that “Americans of faith should try as hard to save the lives of African women as the lives of unborn fetuses.Michael Jordan and the Malestrom

Reading Jesus and the prophets just reinforces my conviction that the global plight of women and girls is a crucial part of the Bible’s agenda and of our responsibility to keep it on the church’s radar. My book, Half the Church—Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women, merges God’s vision for his daughters with this agenda.

Believe it or not, it is possible to have a clear and honest grasp of the appalling attrocities  happening here and around the world and still hang onto hope. As Calvin College Philosophy Prof James K.A. Smith wrote recently in the Washington Post,

Count me one of the “willfully blind” perhaps, but I would never count out a savior who rose from the dead.”

A New Day for Synergy

In 2014, Synergy became part of Missio Alliance—a step forward that was consistent with both organizations firm commitment to men and women partnering together in ministry. I had attended Missio conferences before that, and it was obvious to me that a commitment to and value of the ministry of women to the whole Body of Christ was already in their DNA. As I’ve said before, Missio Alliance was a logical place for Synergy to land.

I’m sharing these videos as a reminder to women who were part of Synergy that we haven’t gone away and to encourage you to check out the upcoming Missio Alliance Conference, Awakenings and plan on joining us. The conference is April 27-29 in Alexandria, Virginia.

y450-293I’m currently reading N.T. Wright’s new book, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning Jesus’ Crucifixion (which I’d recommend you’d read whether you can make it to the conference or not). I’ve read several of his books, and have yet to read one that didn’t leave me with a fresh sense of hope (a.k.a., informed optimism). This one is no exception. I can’t wait to hear him speak on this at the conference. I suspect plenty of us could use a bracing infusion of hope about now. This conference promises to deliver. Prof Wright is just one of the speakers in this strong line-up that I’m counting on to feed my hope.

For those who have never heard of Synergy, these videos will give you a glimpse  of the kind of work we did at Synergy and still are passionate about doing.

Come to Alexandria and get a fresh dose of hope!



About carolyncustisjames
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