The words Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:7—“For we walk by faith, not by sight”—took a deeper meaning in 2020. As we faced a global pandemic, the way that we had been doing ministry changed, and we, as ministers of the Gospel, adapted.
I wish I could say it was easy and I yielded courageously with no hint of fear and doubt, but honestly, it wasn’t anything like that. But God (my two favorite words) gave me strength to follow as I kept my eyes on Him and listened to the voice of Jesus whispering His promises and confirming, again and again, this was His path. Jesus knew what I needed, and one of those needs was support, which He provided through my campus pastor Steve Daigle and his wife, Kimberly.
I have the privilege of leading the women’s ministry, Calvary Women Parkland, and groups ministry. In 2020, our church, Calvary Chapel Parkland, a regional campus to Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale, was only two years old. Before the pandemic, we hosted our church in a school that closed during the quarantine. While in quarantine, church services continued online. When restrictions changed, we started meeting in a hotel, maintaining strict CDC guidelines. In one of our online leadership meetings, the question was asked: “How can we continue to support our community and serve everyone the Lord has brought to us during these circumstances?” Big question!
For the first semester of the year, Calvary Women Parkland hosted an online Bible study. Groups were experiencing community using online platforms, which fostered discipleship during unprecedented times. With the uncertainty of the virus in the second semester of the year, women were facing discouragement, loneliness, and increased grief because of losses in different areas of their lives. We needed the Lord’s guidance for our next steps, and He showed up in a mighty way.
I received an email from Lifeway Women promoting an opportunity for a Live Simulcast online conference by eight well-known teachers of the Word. I knew this was what we needed. However, some unanswered questions surfaced. We did not know if women would be interested in doing something like this online, if anyone would register, or how this would work. When we prayed about it, we felt the Lord confirming this was His answer.
The Simulcast could be done on the same date as the recording or on a different day. We chose the same day of the recording, August 8, 2020. We obtained the church license, and with it, thirty individual spots were included. I thought this would be enough—how little my faith was because we ended up buying fifty more spots! The heart of our church leadership was to provide this opportunity free of charge to any woman who wanted to listen to the Word of God. Our virtual living room was going to be open to any woman whom the Lord will bring, regardless of her background and what church she attended. We posted it on Facebook and Instagram with a registration link available.
I called Lifeway Customer Service SO MANY times. They prayed for me as sometimes I was worried about so many unknowns. The support team scheduled training and tested my internet signal to make sure the bandwidth was free from buffering, pausing, or freezing while hosting via Zoom. Lifeway sent an agenda with a timeline of the conference which made it easier to organize our online event.
When women started registering, we invited them to have their cameras on to have that sense of community, and if they were willing, we invited them to have lunch with us with their cameras on. The conference started at 9:00 a.m. Our virtual living room opened at 8:00 a.m. To make sure I could help anyone with troubleshooting, we introduced ourselves, had coffee together virtually, and did some icebreakers. When the conference started, the worship and the teachers were so transparent that the messages given made an enormous impact on our participants, as their heads nodded and the tears and laughter shared said it all.
During lunch, many of us had lunch with the camera on; we exchanged recipes as we continued to enjoy fellowship, and we shared some of the main points that each attendee loved. The conference ended at 4:00 p.m., but we continued until 6:00 p.m., sharing our responses to the various messages heard and exchanging prayer requests.
Because of this wonderful experience, we hosted a You Lead online training a month later. Other campuses joined us as we trained and equipped leaders and volunteers in the place of ministry where God has called them.
Today, Calvary Chapel Parkland is a place we can call home. Some of the women who attended the Simulcast and You Lead have joined our groups, and their families attend our campus. Some were called to lead in different capacities at their home churches. I still exchange texts and pictures with others.
I pray that sharing my journey with the Lord encourages you to do things out of your comfort zone. It increased my faith and allowed me to experience God in a deeper and personal way. But most of all, I’m thankful I was not alone. God was by my side, and He provided the support of my pastor and his wife to come alongside me in believing what God was doing. He did it for me, and He will do it for your ministry and for you.
I would like to share a couple of testimonies out of many I that received:
“My prayer to the Lord these past several months is for Him to humble me, especially now when I’m teaching a Bible study to other women who are hungry for God’s Word. So often, we tend to feel confident in our delivery of His Word, only to be humbled in the most unexpected ways like the Lifeway Conference did for me. I knew God was working in my life with each speaker. I am forever grateful for His work in me and all of us who want to serve Him.”
“I cannot thank you enough for coordinating and managing the Zoom room for all of us yesterday. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. There are so many wonderful things I can say about the event, but in short, IT WOKE ME UP! I am still high on so much of what was delivered by these amazing godly women who have been given the gift of delivering His Word in such a way that it hits straight to the heart. I took several pages of notes and shared several takeaways with my small group. I was so moved by Jen Wilkin’s comments on how the pandemic has shaken our foundation and how God’s Word brings order out of chaos. I definitely needed to bring these words to my small group!”
Interested in hosting a Lifeway Women Simulcast? Check out our Simulcast FAQs or contact your regional simulcast specialist via this form. We’d love you to join us at a digital event soon! Learn more about our upcoming digital events here.
Margarita Perez is from Barranquilla, Colombia. Raised by a single mom, she has one older brother, two nieces, and two nephews. For the last fifteen years, she has resided in Coral Springs, Florida. A single woman with a heart for discipleship and teaching the Word of God, she is dedicated to helping other women draw closer to Jesus in their relationships with Him. At Calvary Chapel Parkland, she leads groups ministry and the women’s ministry, Calvary Women Parkland.