Over 150 women gathered for UMHB’s first Psalm 139 event on Saturday, Jan. 19 in Bawcom Student Union. They enjoyed fellowship and worship together at the conference, which was founded and organized by senior public relations major Sydney Stolz.
“The Lord planted this seed in my heart for women’s ministry years ago, but I never would have dreamed it would grow into the Psalm 139 event,” Stolz said.
The conference highlighted the message of the psalm, which reads:
13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:13-14 (ESV)
Marissa Halvorsen, a sophomore psychology major who attended the event, said that “as women, we think we have to fit the mold of doing everything for everyone and pleasing everybody.” However, Halvorsen said that women already have their identity.
“We have to make sure our identity is not found in our peers, parents, significant others, school work, etc.,” she said. “Our identity is in the Lord—He takes the pressure off of needing to please others, we only need to work to please Him.”
According to sophomore business major and Psalm 139 committee member Eunice Michaelson, keynote speaker Merritt Johnston’s presentation emphasized the importance of coming to that realization.
“She made us laugh, cry, and most importantly realize the truth about our identity in Christ,” Michaelson said. “Merritt Johnston is truly an incredible woman of God.”
Johnston is a UMHB graduate who founded SAGE Ministries for girls while she was in college. Now president of the endeavor, she leads a team of volunteer chaplains at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Brenham.
As she addressed students at the conference, Johnston encouraged them to find their “3:15” moment of realizing freedom, a reference to her time spent on the mission field in Germany where she visited Buchenwald, a former Nazi concentration camp.
While there, Johnston was able to see what it was like to be a prisoner inside the walls of the camp and to be able to see the city around the camp – and freedom – right on the other side. She said that when prisoners were declared to be free at 3:15 p.m. on April 11, 1945, the clock stopped permanently, forever a reminder of freedom at that moment. Johnston related the story to everyone’s own personal prisons.
“What is your 3:15 moment?” she asked. “What walls are separating you from your total freedom in Christ? When will you declare your freedom?”
Sophomore nursing student and member of the Psalm 139 steering committee Amy Luong was deeply encouraged by Johnston’s words of encouragement.
“For me, I’ve always been so focused on the future that I don’t realize that once I have Jesus Christ, my life is on track,” Luong said. “I’m free. There are other events that happen in life, but ultimately you are free and you have a God, who can help you through it all.”
The band Austin Stone Worship Collective from Austin Stone Community Church set the tone for the conference in the Great Hall.
“We wanted to celebrate the fact that we’re all daughters of the King,” Kimberley Rincones, a sophomore public relations major said. Rincones was one of the directors for Psalm 139, who worked with the committee to create a culture of “empowering, encouraging, and supporting one another to walk in our God-given purpose while being surrounded by gospel-centered community.”
Stolz was very happy with how the conference turned out.
“The event itself blew my expectations out of the water,” Stolz said. “So many walls were broken down. The Lord has been so faithful.”