Here We Are Again

by Stephanie Olson and Joy Martin, Co-founders Set Me Free Ministries

When Joy and I started this ministry, we really had no idea what we were getting into. You have to understand something about me. I’m an extremely detailed person. I’m a planner. I know what I’m doing weeks in advance. Let’s just say spontaneity is not my thing. Yet, when the Lord prompted me to start Set Me Free Ministries, He gave me no direction other than to start a Web site and begin speaking. Not really helpful for someone like me. Thank goodness I had my sister on my team (er, the only person on my team at the time). She has been my mainstay. I can tell you right now that this ministry would not be where it is today without her. I’m guessing God knew that.

So, anyway, we did just that. We started speaking at local churches and small events around the area. We were blessed with one speaking engagement a month. Nothing more, nothing less. We put a team of people together to pray for us (our prayer warriors) and a team of people together for accountability (our board of directors).

And then it happened. I felt a nudge to begin planning a conference—a big, multifaceted event that would give people an opportunity to experience God in a slightly different way that they were used to. An event where people could worship God through drama, dance, music, and comedy. An event where people could hear teaching that was not just a feel-good message but one that spoke truth about freedom through Jesus Christ. 

Since the ministry was only six months old, I was convinced I was being ridiculous. I went to Joy, who is (usually) the voice of reason. She thought it was a great idea. Strike one. I went to my husband, who is my rock. I know he will always let me know when my ideas aren’t good. He also thought it was a great idea. Strike two. Finally, I went to the board—they would surely understand why we couldn’t pull this off. Nope, they were on board, too. Strike three. 

So we carried out A New Reputation last year for two successful events—one in Omaha and one in Lincoln. And here we are again. Quite honestly, when we were preparing the first conference, it never entered my mind we would do it again. Clearly, God had other plans.

* * *

Clearly. And isn’t it funny how that works? When Stephanie asked me to be a part of the ministry, my first thought was Do I have a choice? Although, technically, we always have a choice in what we do, reality was I couldn’t say no to my sister. 

Back then, I was in a very different place than I am now. I was living as a Christian, but I wasn’t living in Christ. So when I was asked to be a part of a ministry I thought it would be a good opportunity to grow—a simple way to stretch myself. Ha! I got the “stretch myself” part right, but the “simple” part of the equation was way, way off. 

At one point not long after I’d agreed to jump on board, I expressed some concerns to my sister. I didn’t feel worthy of being a part of any sort of ministry. After all, I had struggles. I saw my sister and mom as far more spiritually mature than I could even hope to be. Truth be told, I was more flawed than I let on. I dealt with inner struggles that I kept buried deep within. I felt better after being assured that my ongoing struggles actually qualified me to help others going through the same things. What I wasn’t briefed on, however, was that God would begin working in me to bring me through those struggles. And it wouldn’t always be a pleasant, easy experience. But it’s all been good. 

Perhaps that’s why I’m so excited for this year’s conference. One of my biggest challenges has been overcoming a spirit of unforgiveness. In fact, it’s been such a challenge that it’s only been in the past month that I decided I was ready to take it on. And I’m so glad I did. It’s my prayer that Renewed, Restored, Released will be the start of that same journey for you. Big or small, we all have things we need to let go. We all harbor ill will on some level. The question is—do you realize what that is doing to you? 

Join us Saturday, March 6, 2010, to learn about the power of forgiveness and discover the freedom that awaits you on the other side. The tab is on us, but the journey is yours.

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