"Would you like to come to an Amish Inn in Ohio for a prayer retreat?" The caller was Beth Coppedge, whom I had met at a retreat in Ohio a couple years earlier. About all I knew about Beth was that she led Titus Women's Ministries and her father was Dennis Kinlaw who has served as Asbury College's president. Little did I know what God had planned.
Those three days of being in the Word and in prayer were so anointed that several of us wanted that to continue, and so we began meeting twice a year. The Spirit burdened us to pray not just for our own needs, but also for the burden on His heart. We longed to see a revival of the message of holiness.
Then in 2004, a Nazarene pastor's wife E-mailed me several times about the need for a "deeper life" conference for women. A few months later, a woman in Texas began E-mailing me with a similar message. One day she wrote, "The Lord told me today in the laundry room that I've done what I could. The ball is in your court." At that moment, the Spirit witnessed to my spirit that indeed He had placed the ball in my court.
But what did I know about planning a holiness conference for women? In 1998, a woman had said the Lord gave her Joshua 3:3-4 for me: "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before." I now understood that these words applied to this new thing God was doing.
Indeed, I had not gone this way before, and I did not know which way to go. I was to follow the "ark," the presence of God. At each turn, I must know what the Spirit wanted.
I called Beth and several others, and in January 2005 nine of us met to pray and consider what God was saying about having a conference. We continued to meet every six months. In one of those meetings, the Spirit let us know that, contrary to our plans, we were not to charge attendees for the event. We would take offerings and trust God to provide.
Without much of a budget, publicity would be a challenge. Psalm 50:1 says God summoned the people, and we begged Him to summon the women. Women began saying they felt drawn to this conference. Over 1,000 women from a widespread area came to the first conference.
Deciding on a name was difficult until one day while I was sitting at my kitchen table, the Spirit seemed to whisper, "Come to the Fire." I knew that was the name He was giving to the conference.
When I told my pastor, J. K. Warrick, of our vision for a holiness conference for women, he responded, "You can have this at College Church," so the first three conferences in 2006 to 2008 were at College Church of the Nazarene in Olathe, Kansas. In 2009, Come to the Fire moved to Nashville First Church of the Nazarene. In 2010, 1,600 women filled the auditorium at Purdue University in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
But God had more in mind than just conferences. Additional developments have followed.
Beth suggested we form Lydia Prayer Groups so women would unite in prayer for revival. Now, under the leadership of Patsy Lewis, there are numerous groups of women praying for God's fire to come into our lives. Patsy encourages these as she leads Lydia Prayer Retreats in various locations.
Council member Kim McLean, a Dove-award winning song writer, writes a song each year to go with the theme. Last year hundreds of women went home from the conference with the first Come to the Fire music CD. This year Kim held a songwriters' retreat for the Come to the Fire praise team. Before they met, she E-mailed them, "Don't forget to stay centered [on] the holiness message." A number of these original songs will be on the second Come to the Fire music CD.
Come to the Fire publishes books with the holiness message. Published works include two books of testimonies plus books on prayer and spiritual parenting.
For 40 days before the conference, registrants receive daily prayer requests. In 2010 nearly 150 requested a list of registrants to pray for; some asked for the entire list.
Daily devotionals go out Monday through Friday throughout the year to encourage and challenge thousands of women. To receive these, E-mail email@example.com.
General Superintendent Emeritus Nina Gunter encourages women to attend Come to the Fire: "Have you been longing to be in a gathering where there is a mighty visitation of God? Where the Holy Spirit does something so supernatural that everyone knows it is God? Where people humble themselves before God so He can do in them all He desires and they will never be the same? Come to the Fire!"
The sixth annual Come to the Fire conference will be September 29 - October 1 at Grove City Church of the Nazarene near Columbus, Ohio."'Enter His Rest" is the 2012 theme taken from Hebrews 4:3: "We who have believed enter that rest." Speakers will include Beth Coppedge, Rondy Smith, Carolyn Johnson, and Aletha Hinthorn. For more information, go to www.cometothefire.org.
I Am Different
When I registered for the Come to the Fire women's conference, I had no idea what the Lord had in store for me. I have been to many retreats and conferences before and they had always left me feeling "filled up," but I had never been to one that left me completely changed, until now.
From the very first minute of the conference, the Lord's presence was there. He was there all three days, and He lit a fire in me that I brought home. He was even with me on the bathroom floor of my hotel room at 3:00 A.M., while I was praying as part of the all night prayer.
I have known the Lord nearly all my life. Sometimes I followed Him more than at other times, but knew Him nevertheless. I had never completely given everything to Him. I have a husband, two very active children, and I work full time. My children and husband were always the victims of my expectations. Sometimes, my expectations were too much, and my happiness and joy revolved around those expectations. I relied on other people to sustain my fulfillment of life. What a tough life that is! People are only human, and depending on them as a source of life leads only to a life of disappointment and heartache.
Jesus changed me on Friday at Come to the Fire. So when my kids don't mind, Jesus is enough. He is enough when my husband forgets to kiss me goodbye. He is enough when things at work are tough. He is enough when things don-t go my way.
Saturday evening while I was tucking my 14-year-old daughter in for bed she said, "Mom, you're different." Yes, thank you, Sweet Jesus, I am different!
--Stacy McCune, Missouri
Aletha Hinthorn is director of Women Alive Ministries and the Come to the Fire conferences and emails daily devotionals. She has written many books including How to Read the Bible So It Changes Your Life.
Holiness Today, Sep/Oct 2011
2013 Simulcast: hXXp://cometothefire.org/simulcast-program/