(Photo: Christian Post/Jessica Martinez)
WASHINGTON – Author and singer Sheila Walsh kicked off the two-day Women of Faith conference, which attracted more than 5,000 women on Friday evening at the Verizon Center, with a message aimed at encouraging attendees under the theme, "Believe God Can Do Anything."
The theme was created with the focus to remind women anything is possible for God as long as they are willing to hand over control , which Walsh emphasized in her message. She spoke about the fear that women face in letting go of their problems but encouraged them to solidify their faith in God while shedding their doubt.
"There's not one of us here today that doesn't want a solid foundation on a stormy day but sometimes we allow our feelings to control what we believe in our hearts to be true," said Walsh.
Broken women often times carry their armor as protection against storms, said Walsh, prompting loud "Amens" and cheers from the crowd. She also explained that same notion triggered her to write her latest book, God Loves Broken People, because many uphold a strong, prideful demeanor while suffering in their own hurt.
"Many of you are probably glad it's dark in here tonight so the sister from your old church won't see you, although she might see a scarlet letter on you, God sees a broken heart, one that He died for," said Walsh.
In her message, Walsh admitted she endured seasons of hurt and desperation that made her realize she needed to embrace her shortcomings, and she began to use that as her platform early on in her ministry.
"I went from hosting the 700 club for five years to ending up in a psychiatric ward. There's so much stigma within the church about mental illness but I wear my testimony on my sleeve," said Walsh. "You see, there is beauty in transparency. We have learned how to wear masks but we shouldn't be afraid to be seen for who we really are."
She called on women to get rid of their fear of going through storms while affirming that they do not have to maneuver through life – God can do it for them. Walsh illustrated her point by bringing an inflatable boat on stage while making the point that several types of women exist that refuse or doubt that their circumstances can be handled by Christ.
"There are some women who believe the boat begins to get rough and rocky because they are on it. Many of you went through things in life that no one should have to go through and you still carry that shame and feeling that you don't belong so you tell yourself, ' I should get out of the boat,' but if Jesus is in it, that's all you need," said Walsh.
Through the heavy burden of guilt, remorse and fear that many women navigate, there is an outlet and a chance to cast them over to God, she said.
"Do you know that the enemy is the accuser of all people? He wants to drag every sin out of the trash can and say, 'you said you loved God but you did this.' But when Jesus died on the cross He said, 'It is finished, paid in full,'" said Walsh. "And when you put that trust in Him, your sin and fear is removed as far as the east is from the west."
Walsh has spoken at the Women of Faith conference since 1996. The Washington, D.C. conference was one of 24 stops throughout U.S. cities featuring a lineup of prominent Christian authors, speakers, comedians and worship leaders including Priscilla Shirer, CeCe Winans, Judah Smith, Mark Lowry and Third Day.