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By Whitney Wyatt
The Red River Sun
WELLINGTON – “Women and girls are getting their value from men, the bathroom mirror and media. They need a new image of what it is like to be beautiful in God’s eyes,” said Jennifer Strickland.
This is exactly what girls and women will learn from Strickland, who is a former professional model, author and TEDx speaker, during the Arise Identity Conference on April 10 at the Ritz Theatre in Wellington.
“The Lord gave me a vision to bring Jennifer’s story to Wellington,” said Kristen Spillman Jordan, a 1999 Wellington High School graduate. “My heart is to help women come out of their spiritual and physical darkness and to rise up and be radiant in Christ.”
Jordan said the conference is based off of Isaiah 60:1-2, “Arise, shine, for the glory of the Lord appears over you.” It is aimed at gathering the youth of Wellington and the surrounding area with a dynamic, power-packed event that will challenge them to arise and shine in this dark world.
“We want to help girls be open and real and honest about their stories, so they can get the help and healing they need,” she explained.
Strickland will share her testimony of being at the pit of her despair – drug addicted, anorexic, violated and suicidal – when she encountered the unconditional and saving love of Jesus Christ, according to the conference website. She said the world is in a time where girls and women are stuck behind TV screens and computers, giving them poor self-images.
Since leaving the modeling industry, Strickland has become a wife, mother, author and founder of U R More, a ministry that teaches people their worth in God’s eyes. Since Jordan works with Strickland at U R More, she wanted to bring the ministry to her hometown.
“Growing up in Wellington, I hid my struggles for fear of rejection,” Jordan said. “I met the Lord while attending Texas Tech University, where I also met my husband. During the course of my 20 years in service to Christ, I have learned how to replace the lies I believed about myself with the truth of God’s Word. As I have encountered His incredible love and sacrifice for me, I have been healed and set free from my past.”
Jordan said she would love nothing more than seeing other women experience that too.
“It’s time for women to gather with the younger generation to make them feel loved and known,” Jordan said. “They can use their voice for the kingdom to create a more positive view of womanhood and to raise up a more positive image.”
The conference features a Friday night showing of the Girl Perfect Documentary featuring Strickland’s story at the Ritz Theatre. Check-in is at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 9. The movie starts at 5:30 p.m. and there will be a Q and A with Strickland at 6:45 p.m.
“Women tend to look to the wrong things for our identity,” Strickland said. “Instead of looking to God to tell us our worth, we look to man and feel unsatisfied, we look at ourselves and feel not enough and we look to media and become distracted and confused.”
Check-in on Saturday, April 10 is at 9 a.m. at the Ritz Theatre. A morning session of worship led by Molly Anderson from Amarillo Trinity Fellowship Church follows at 9:30 a.m. Then Strickland will give her first presentation. After Childress High School graduate Whitney Wyatt gives her testimony of overcoming brain cancer at the age of 26, the Victory Temple Gospel Choir will perform.
Following lunch, Strickland will talk about how women tend to look to the wrong things for their identity. Then there will be an artistic worship by Wellington High School art teacher Marnie Kane.
Strickland will speak one more time about preparing for Christ’s return and Anderson will lead worship again before the dessert fellowship, which will begin at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. Women and girls at least 12 years old can register at http://urmore.org/arise/. The deadline to sign up is April 1.