ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Diane Strack lay on the operating table, watching doctors perform an emergency procedure on her heart.
“I asked to be kept awake, so I could watch the catheterization and see what was happening to my heart,” Strack said. “I actually saw my artery kinked and closed.”
She heard the nurse gasp: “Look at all that disease!” “I glanced up and saw on the monitor what looked like a shriveled green bean,” Strack said. “An overwhelming fear came over me that this could be my last breath.”
In the face of that horrifying thought, however, Strack encountered the Living God.
“In that moment, I had an amazing experience with the Lord,” she said. “I knew I had just been given another chance to live. He spoke to me and said, ‘If you will present yourself to me, if you will be a living sacrifice, I will take you through.’ It was a magnificent and awesome experience.”
The Lord spoke to Strack, who is president of the SBC Ministers’ Wives Conference, through Romans 12:1, which urges believers “to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (NASB) Out of that experience came “Quiet Influence: The Romans 12:1 Woman” — which is both a Bible study and the theme of this year’s Ministers’ Wives Luncheon at the Southern Baptist Convention, June 23 in Louisville, Ky.
Strack wants the Louisville gathering to minister to ministers’ wives in a powerful way.
“With the economy the way it is, with things in the world the way they are, it’s so easy for pastors’ wives to feel very overwhelmed. We hear complaints and fear at every turn and this is then expressed to the minister and his wife,” Strack said. “We want to give ministers’ wives a sense of understanding that, no matter what their situation, God can use you in people’s lives, year after year and generation after generation, when you present yourself to Him in holy surrender.”
Each minister’s wife attending the meeting will be given a free copy of the Bible study, which has been published by NavPress and includes chapters written by Debbie Brunson, Jeana Floyd, Donna Gaines, Susie Hawkins and Lisa Young, as well as Strack.
The luncheon will give pastors’ wives an opportunity to hear real experiences and stories about how other ministers’ wives have faced struggles and found God carried them through, Strack said.
“You can gain so much from hearing somebody say, ‘I went through breast cancer and God’s brought me through it’ or ‘My son walked away from the Lord and as a pastor’s wife that was the hardest thing I ever went through,'” she said. “That’s powerful for a woman who’s out there struggling. She might feel alone and embarrassed because you publicly are living out your son walking away. You take all the pressure on yourself.”
The study is designed to encourage and inspire women by showing how great women of the Bible and church history have made a tremendous impact on people’s lives by exerting quiet influence, Strack said.
“We’re highlighting that, even if they aren’t up there on the stage or in a large church, God wants to use you,” she explained. “It’s all about presenting yourself and trusting Him to do the rest with your life.”
In addition to the authors giving a preview of the Bible study, the program also will feature a segment called “The View from the Pew,” in which the panelists will relive some of their most embarrassing ministry moments. “We think that will be fun,” Strack said, “helping other ministers wives understand that you can make mistakes and still live on.”
A new feature for this year’s luncheon will be a Women’s Expo both before and after the luncheon, Strack said. The doors to that event will open at 10:30 a.m. and will feature resources for women’s ministry and personal growth. Door prizes will be awarded every 10 to 15 minutes the various booths will offer giveaways as well. In addition, every woman attending the luncheon will receive gifts and favors.
“We want this year’s event to inspire our women. We want to give them great resources and tools and help them explore opportunities,” Strack said. “We also want to highlight the greatness of our convention. We feel it’s important for them to understand that we have a lot of tools that can help them that they may not really understand or know how to access.”
Free tickets to the luncheon are being given to the wives of seminary students, Strack said. In addition, all future proceeds from sales of the Quiet Influence study will be donated to the Ministers’ Wives Conference fund.
You shouldn’t just come to a luncheon and have a good time and walk away unchanged. You should come and be renewed and inspired and excited about life and the opportunity to present yourself to the Lord,” Strack said. “If you can get the presentation part down, He does the rest! That’s what we want them to get.”
Mark Kelly is an assistant editor with Baptist Press. Information about the program is available at dianestrack.com. Tickets for the event can be purchased there or by calling (512) 258-9021.