It was a day for sharing personal experiences, struggles and comings-to-God.

At the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium on Saturday, about 600 women gathered for the Women of Faith “One Day” event, a meeting designed for fun and worship. The women attending the nondemoninational event came from near and far for an experience smaller than usual Women of Faith events.

“Without fail, God will use these people to speak to you,” said Michelle Zara, who traveled from New Orleans for the conference with family. “We’re all carrying baggage, we’re all facing separate trials. But God will meet you where you are.”

Women of Faith is a group encouraging women of all ages and stages in life to grow in faith and spiritual maturity through a relationship with Christ, according to the organization. Their events use music, humor, drama and inspirational stories to help women grow closer to God.

Saturday’s event featured author, public speaker, Grammy-nominated singer and television personality Sheila Walsh. It also featured ventriloquist David Pendleton and “American Idol” finalist Scott MacIntyre.

MacIntyre played piano for the women but also shared some of his life and how his trials brought him closer to God.

The songwriter was born almost totally blind and said all he was able to see was the world through a “coffee straw” size field of vision. After graduating college at 19, MacIntyre said he learned his kidneys had failed.

“Growing up, I knew there were many things I could never do, but fortunately, God gave me a great passion to compensate,” MacIntyre said. “God was doing something special with my life, even though I couldn’t see it.”

MacIntyre said he never took his blindness or his musical talents for granted. Although he sometimes felt angry and scared, he said he has grown to accept and understand why those things happened to him.

“If I can overcome this, think what you all can overcome,” MacIntyre said. “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but I wouldn’t change it if I could.”

The women at the event laughed and sang along with MacIntyre, but for most, the meaning of the day was sharing life and religion with one another.

“God puts certain people together for a reason so they can help each other,” said Elizabeth Banks, who traveled from Arlington, Texas, to attend the conference. “We share our experiences with others, and it helps people accept what is happening to them so they don’t have to feel alone.”

Banks said she is a breast cancer survivor, and although it took her almost five years to get over the pain and anger it caused, she now understands and accepts why it happened to her.

Now when she meets younger women with her same condition, she opens herself to what they need to continue growing and remain strong, she said.


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