BYRON -- Victoria Simmons grew up in church, playing piano for a variety of churches by the time she was 12.
Following lifes twists and turns, she has started a ministry she hopes brings encouragement to others, especially women.
I loved God as a child, and he saved me when I was 11, Simmons said. About three years ago, I felt he called me to ministry. I want to be a blessing to others because we live in such a dark world where everybody is hurting. Sooner or later, we all go through difficult times. God wants to be there with us, helping us through.
Simmons said the death of her husband, Terry Whitehead, in 2003 provided a wake-up call that drew her back to a dependence on God.
Hes always tugged at my heart, so it wasnt something new, she said. But after Terry died God really started working on me. I learned a lot of lessons, including that there are worse things than being alone. I learned God is always with me, and I can rely on him daily. Ive made mistakes along the way, but Ive found God is faithful.
Some of those tugs from God resulted in the start of A Light in the Darkness Ministries and Simmons conducting womens conferences.
During one of my prayer times, I just knew he wanted me to do womens conferences and womens ministry, Simmons said. I kept listening to what he was saying, and he put people in my path. Things began coming together.
The first conference was at Byrons municipal complex and attended by 50 women.
The next womens conference is Saturday at Georgia Bobs barbecue restaurant on Howland Avenue off Ga. 96 behind CB&T bank.
Featured at the conference will be speakers Audrey George (known to many as Chief Audrey), Nancy Gibbs and Simmons. Special music will be provided by George and Souls Desire. There will also be the debut of Sisterly Love, a drama team.
Simmons said the conference is free though there is a charge for lunch, and a love offering will be taken. She said the event is cross-denominational.
The theme is Its Not About You: Back to the Basics, she said. Its about getting back to his word and doing what he says. Weve got to get back to worship, to encouraging one another. If were grounded in Christ it leads us to a special peace. It took a long time for me to get to that point, but I have. Im a reformed worrier and still give in to it at times, but Im quicker about putting things back in his hands.
Along with her renewed passion for God, Simmons also began studying for ministry with the Retired Military Full Gospel Fellowship, a full-gospel, evangelical ministry with a primary purpose of presenting the Gospel to military members and their families, which also serves as a training and umbrella organization for other ministries.
She said its founder, Rev. Dan Gatlyn, is a longtime friend and mentor. Simmons hopes to complete studies and be ordained next year.
I never in my life would have imagined God had this for me, but its the direction hes given, Simmons said. I hope I can help people find a renewed dedication to God. I hope they receive a blessing at the conferences and go out and be a blessing to others. I hope they realize theyre not alone.
By profession, Simmons is a 40-year journalism veteran in Middle Georgia and general manager and publisher of The Georgia Post and Byron Buzz. Now remarried, Simmons and her husband, David, are members of Warner Robins Shirley Hills Baptist Church. Her husband is an ordained minister.
Contact Michael W. Pannell at email@example.com.