(Photo: WTAL via Christian Post)
Before a crowd of 25,000 women at Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Bishop T.D. Jakes opened up the first day of his annual "Woman, Thou Art Loosed!" conference by saying that it is important that a faith in God be coupled with a belief in oneself.
"There are two aspects of faith that are critical for you to make it through this world," said Jakes, who is the lead pastor of the 30,000-member The Potter's House in Dallas. "Number one, you have to believe in God. If you don't believe in God there are some things for which there is no answer, no rationale, and no comfort. People will become sort of being what you need when you need it. You will spend the rest of your life searching through people who are just as broken as you are trying how to get it together. You must believe in God.
"But I'm going to tell you something tonight. Believing in God is not enough because I also want to remind you that the Bible said the demons believe and tremble. The second area of belief is critical and this is an area where even Christian believers are often attacked," he continued.
"We do good in believing in God. Some of us were raised believing in God and if you got that part real good the enemy comes along and tries to destroy the ability to believe in yourself. He will show you all kinds of reasons to make you think that you don't have it … He is always throwing up something in your face to get you not to believe in yourself."
The three-day conference that began on Thursday is also a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the book Woman, Thou Art Loosed! written by Jakes. The main sessions are being livestreamed on the WTAL official website.
Turning from what he says are the devil's plans to "destroy the ability to believe in oneself," Jakes then explained the part of the spiritual equation that includes the individual by emphasizing "I" in a well- known Bible verse.
"Let me back that up with the Bible. Paul said, 'I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me,' Jakes exalted the women, many standing and receiving his message with arms raised.
The event features discussion on women's role in society and "how they can use their strengths, gifts and abilities to overcome any obstacle to transform their lives in a positive and exciting way," according to organizers.
Paula White, pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Fla., spoke to the crowd shortly before Jake's sermon, praying for the release from financial bondage for those in attendance and encouraging people to give money during the evening's offering.
Other prominent church speakers planned for the event include Jakes' wife, First Lady Serita Jakes, Pastor Sheryl Brady, the campus pastor of The Potter's House of North Dallas, and best-selling author and speaker Dr. Cindy Trimm of Trimm International.
In his book, Woman, Thou Art Loosed! Jakes writes about difficult experiences women go through, including trauma, abuse, distress, but says there is a solution for every trouble. T.D. Jakes also has a role in the 2004 movie of the same name based on his book.
Musical guests for the Atlanta conference are Grammy Award winner Ann Nesby, Joy Hill, Gaye Arbuckle and "The Woman Thou Art Loosed" Praise Team. Additionally, the winner of the next big gospel music star contest on Facebook organized by Jakes was given the opportunity to perform before the audience at the conference.