Colorful costumes, inspiring testimonies, and the opportunity to dig deep financially and support Australia’s drought-stricken farmers were all part of this year’s Breathe 2018 conference, a women’s gathering held on September 22, 2018, in Sydney, Australia.
Around 500 women gathered for the event, hosted by Sydney Adventist Women, and were uplifted by personal stories, warm fellowship, singing, and prayer. Many wore the national costumes and colors of their heritage countries to celebrate the rich diversity of Adventist women in Australia’s largest city.
Two offerings were strongly supported by women attending the event: the first raised around AU$6,000 (about US$4,400) for the work of women’s ministries across Sydney. The second was collected to support ADRA’s drought relief appeal, and it raised AU$24,000 (about US$17,500).
The Korean Ladies Choir and the Samoan Ladies Choir provided music at the conference. A designated prayer area was available for those who wanted someone to pray for them.
The theme for the conference was “Chosen,” with South Pacific Division family ministries director Trafford Fischer as the keynote presenter. Fischer presented three sessions: Chosen to Love, Chosen to Live, and Chosen to Lead.
In the first session, Fischer spoke about the ultimate act of love shown through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. “For God so loved the world that He gave. His Son was a gift—you don’t pay for a gift. As soon as you do, it ceases to be a gift,” he said. “God gave freely. That’s what love does. And there lies the secret of great love: it’s something you give away.”
In the second session, Fischer reminded the women that the promise of abundant life in Christ doesn’t mean that it will be a comfortable one. “An abundant life with Jesus may not be an ‘easy chair and a cuppa and a good book’ life,” he said. “An abundant life won’t always be a holiday at the beach; nowhere in Scripture will we find the suggestion that the Christian life will always be a walk in the park.”
At the same time, he said, there is an upside to it, because when our lives are anchored in Jesus, “then we deal with whatever life gives us as best we can.”
And he added, “When you and I accept the fact that we are anchored in Jesus Christ — sealed, guaranteed — out of that setting then we step into life and we have a crack at life, and we try to make it everything we can.”
Reflecting on the day, Greater Sydney Conference women’s ministries director Beryl Landers said her heart was full of joy and praise. “We experienced the presence of God at Breathe 2018,” Landers posted on her Facebook page. “I love the fact that when the women of the Greater Sydney Conference gather, things happen, compassion flows, and community is changed.”