Community leaders encouraged to 'walk through wilderness'
It is a universal human trait to rely on one's senses.
Stumbling through the darkness, most look for a light. While traveling through desert conditions, individuals seek water. And while traipsing through a wooded area, people attempt to avoid danger.
At the first annual YMCA Community Prayer Breakfast on Friday, guest speaker and North Carolina Secretary of Commerce Sharon Decker advised Davidson County Commissioners, mayors and community leaders to do exactly the opposite. Decker offered her personal testimony and several inspirational thoughts to excite the audience at the Davidson County Community College Conference Center.
"I'm just an ordinary woman with whom God has done some pretty extraordinary things," Decker said in her opening remarks. "And you can say the same thing, because where you are and in what you've done, if you've allowed God to use your life, He has allowed you to do things you never thought you could do."
The Tom A. Finch YMCA and J. Smith Young YMCA invited Decker to speak at the event in hopes of renewing the spirits of elected officials and nonprofit organizers. Judging by the response, her message was well-received.
Decker spoke of a time in her life when she walked away from a lucrative career to enter full-time ministry, despite the fact it seemed to some as an irresponsible move. She likened it to the Biblical account of Moses' journey through the wilderness, following God's lead to a place where where she surrendered control of her life. In those moments of total dependency
on God, the former chief communications officer at Duke Energy realized her need for serenity.
"I just knew that was where I was supposed to be. In the midst of all that, it allowed me to do some pretty fascinating things," Decker said. "He allowed us to reach out to folks through a [Sunday morning radio show] with a message of hope and of strength and of courage through Christ on a secular radio station. Who would have ever thought that?"
Decker also worked at the University of Virginia, providing counsel to graduate students who faced the pressures of preparing for careers in business and law.
After pastoring two small Presbyterian churches, she was asked by Gov. Pat McCrory to join his staff, noting her 17 years of experience at Duke Energy. She nearly turned him down, but God had a place for her to serve in the capital, as well as small towns across the state.
"In that wilderness, it wasn't that God wasn't using me and helping me to understand more about Him," Decker said. "It was a place that was difficult, because I was used to being out front and in places of what others would perceive as important. I was in a place of total surrender and uncertainty in a town of 4,000 people. I was thinking, 'God, you've got bigger things for me.' God was saying, 'Sharon, I want you right here.' "
Ann McMurray and Jarrod Dunbar, co-chairs of the prayer breakfast committee, were enthusiastic after the event about hosting another joint venture. The motivation is to unite diverse groups of individuals, according to Dunbar, who is also director of membership at the Tom A. Finch YMCA.
"It's going to be hard for us to top Secretary Decker's presentation," he said. "It was a very good message, inspiring and also thought-provoking. I look forward to see where we go with it from here. For the first time, it was a good starting point. Even though both YMCAs in the county are independent of one another, we have the same mission. We want the county to see that he YMCAs are coming together to unite for our cause to really strengthen the community."
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or firstname.lastname@example.org.