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It all began with a whiny conversation with a friend.

Me: “I want to start a women’s ministry in our church, but they say no.”

Wiser than me friend: “You don’t have to do ministry within the church.”

Wait, what?! I had never considered that as a possibility. I had had a burning desire to bring women together, but had never considered going outside the walls of my church.

I prayed over this and poured out my heart to God. He let me do all of the talking and seemed to have nothing to say in return.

Ok, I’ll move on. But I continued to have the desire to serve women. Every now and then, I would return to God with the same question, “Is this what You want? Do You want me to do women’s ministry in the community?”


And then one day, I was praying that same prayer again and I knew that it was time. Yes, community-based ministry was God’s plan for me.

This confirmation was quickly followed by, “But where will we meet? How will it work? I’m not equipped for this. I don’t know what I’m doing!”

God answered my questions very simply through the stories of Gideon and Joshua. Every time that I turned around one of these men popped up.

Gideon had felt the same way I did when God gave him a daunting mission, but God answered, Go in the strength that you have…I am sending you.” 

When Joshua was told to conquer the city of Jericho by hosting a parade, he must have had his doubts too. He obeyed, and it was accomplished against all odds by nothing but the will of God. (Joshua 6)

It was time for me to get started on this new thing!

I went to a few close friends and told them that God was telling me to step out in faith and begin something new. My friends were excited about the idea and they wanted to be part of it too.

We formed a team and began meeting regularly to try to flesh out what this new ministry was going to look like, what it would be named, and how we were going to go about making it happen.

We prayed a lot, and we consulted with the wise friend who had sparked the idea with her casual remark about ministry not needing to be within a church. She gave us two valuable pieces of advice.

  1. Immediately establish a prayer team. This ministry needed to start with prayer and continually be covered in it.
  2. Dream big. While we thought striking out on our own was dreaming big, our friend began talking about incorporation and non-profit status. It had not occurred to us that we would be much more than a Bible study and a weekend retreat.

We followed the advice given and “The Connection: Connecting women with God & each other” was born! That was eight years ago. The ministry has grown to include women from more than 30 local churches led by a 14-member leadership team, a commercial unit that we lease, and multiple events and studies, which go on non-stop. We have a blog, online opportunities with women attending from all over the country, and a private group for widows that includes ladies from all over the world. We also have a presence in our community through multiple projects, including college scholarships.

We never imagined that our little dream of bringing together “Jesus girls” would have become all that it has. The secret to our success? Lots of prayer and doing our best to follow God’s lead. We aren’t afraid of showing our weaknesses and giving God all of the glory.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

We recently published a book about our journey and a companion journal to guide the reader through creating their own God-given mission. We want to share with the world what God has been up to in our small rural town – and across the country. We want to encourage others to step outside their comfort zones and allow God to work.

Believe me when I say that if God could use someone as ill-equipped as I am to establish a one-of-a-kind ministry like ours, He can use you too. If you’re battling with a nagging thought to do something outside of your comfort zone, something that might seem just a little bit crazy, pray and share your dream with a trusted friend or two. Ask them to pray with you. And when you know that it’s the right thing at the right time, “go in the strength that you have.”

Mandy Hood

Mandy Hood is co-founder and executive director of The Connection. She authored the book, “Let’s Get Together: The story of a unique women’s ministry.” She hopes the book will be a stepping stone to building a supportive network of community-based ministries.

Mandy and her husband have been married for 44 years. Together, they enjoy camping and traveling. Every year, they look forward to GramCamp – three days of spoiling and fun with their three favorite young men.

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