By Holly Jo Linzay, Regional Correspondent
“For who is God besides the Lord? And who is a rock? Only our God.”
II Samuel 22:32
PINEVILLE – Jesus is the “solid rock” that offers hope to those sinking in worldly quicksand, the keynote speaker told the women at the Kaleidoscope conference.
Captive to her own emptiness and pain fueled by a perpetual cycle of promiscuity and alcohol, Marian Jordan Ellis, the keynote speaker, told the attendees she knew what it felt like to have a God-shaped hole in your soul.
“I was living in the world, and it was a total pit of destruction,” Ellis recalled the time in her life when she lived a “sex-in-the-city” lifestyle.
Sitting in a bar at the age of 25, Ellis stared at an empty martini glass, and knew she was a desperate woman.
“In that bar, I cried out to Jesus. He is our rock. God is our hope,” she said, adding that she had grown up in church without the knowledge that Jesus was the only one who could fill the “hole” in her soul.
“I grew up in church, and knew religion. But I didn’t know Jesus,” Ellis said to the 240 women present Feb. 4 at First Baptist Church in Pineville.
During the day-long conference, Ellis, the founder of Redeemed Girl Ministries based in San Antonio, Texas shared her testimony of how her brokenness turned to redemption through Christ. She went on to say how when attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, she went through some personal trials.
“I transferred my hope from Jesus to another person. This man consumed me,” Ellis recalled, adding that her boyfriend “broke up” with her after a year. It was during that time, she said, the “devil attacked” her spiritually, and she had to find her footing again on the “solid rock.”
“God is the rock. He is a shield,” Ellis said, adding that just like the old hymn, “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood.”
With the “forceful grace” of Christ, Ellis said she felt complete restoration, and that God brought some major changes to her life. At 38 years old, she met and married a man who had two sons.
Last March, Ellis was traveling to one of her speaking engagements and feeling exhausted.
“I went to Web MD looking up flu or mono symptoms,” she said, but ended up finding out at 42 years old, she was expecting her first baby.
Her baby girl, Sydney Jordan Ellis, was born Nov. 9, and the new edition to her family is such a blessing, Ellis said. “She’s our little miracle.”
Jan Russell, a member of Hill Baptist Church in Oak Grove, said hearing the testimony of Ellis confirms to her what God has been telling her.
“I’m a control freak, but I want to do everything God’s way. I can’t mess up what God’s doing in my life if I give Him control. I realize my hope is not how organized I am. My hope is in Jesus, the solid rock,” she said.
Octavia Williams, a Christian recording artist and worship leader at River Outreach Center in Pineville, shared how she went through a rough time after her mother passed away. To keep grief at a distance, she was saying “yes” to every ministry and board when asked to serve or to participate.
“I had lost my mind. I was taking prescriptions drugs from the doctor,” Octavia said. She said she would take a Xanax, sleep three hours, and then take another prescription pill.
“I lost it one morning, sweaty palms, heart palpitations and confusing thoughts. This was a spiritual attack,” recalled Octavia.
She took a stand, and with the Word of God fought back. “I didn’t take Xanax. Instead I read the scripture. I did this Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and then for three more weeks. God delivered me. It’s the Word of God that will give you life,” Octavia affirmed.
JoAnn Forbes, from Christian Family Worship in Hessmer, said both Ellis’ and Octavia’s testimonies spoke to her heart.
“I felt so inspired and renewed that God is for us. We need to hear God is our solid rock. We get so busy with life, we often forget that. The worship was so uplifting, and the message was so encouraging,” Forbes said, adding that she plans to return to the Kaleidoscope conference next year.
Brandi Browning, from Trinity Baptist Church in Sulphur, echoed her sentiments. “As women we try to control everything. But hearing Marian Jordan Ellis reminds us to put our hope in the Lord, and not in the world. We need to look to Jesus like our father, like our dad.”
Shannon Brown, a member from Franklin Ave. Baptist Church in New Orleans, came to the conference saying, “I expected to hear from the Lord. I think God used the speaker to speak to me. I came with an open heart and open ears, and I received,” she said.
Bettye Wiltz, a member of First Baptist Church of Krotz Springs, agreed there were so many things in Ellis’ testimony that touched her. “Her story was truly inspirational.”
Tabby LaBorde, a member of the Church of Marksville, came with a group of five women. She said it had been a long time since she attended a women’s conference. “I needed a renewing, a refreshing,” she said. “We are all so glad we came!”