By Tait Berge, Special to ASSIST News Service
ESTES PARK, CO (ANS – May 30, 2015) – The Colorado Christian Writers Conference (CCWC) is home. Held at the YMCA of the Rockies every May, it is so much more than learning about the craft or getting published. It is about reconnecting with the Lord and listening to what He would have each writer do with his/her writing. It’s about family.
My first time at CCWC was in 2002. I have cerebral palsy, and most of the time I have to plan my trips. Someone has to drive me and stay with me to help with my needs.
But not that first year. I was determined to be at the conference and convinced a friend to drive me and drop me off. Even my mother didn’t know what I was up to. I didn’t know anyone, where I would stay, and here’s the faith part—who would help me with my needs.
A faculty member’s husband blessed me by hanging out with me for the entire conference. He didn’t know how to help me in and out of my wheelchair, and assisting with personal needs is not easy. Richard, however, had something that can’t be taught—a love for Jesus and His people. I was much more mobile back then, but I still needed help. Richard was my right hand man at mealtimes and in my room.
That was fourteen years ago. Since then, I’ve been to the conference many times. (I bring my own help now—my wonderful wife, Kelly!) I have made lots of friends, made many contacts, sold some of my writing, and have learned tons. One of my most memorable moments was meeting with a devotional editor and impressing him with my writing. He could not believe that I could type my devotionals and present him with a clean manuscript.
“How did you do that?” he asked. “You must have had help.”
I just smiled and shook my head. I was a writer. I was trained to produce clean manuscripts. The editor promised to send me a contract to write some devotionals for him.
I met Dan Wooding, publisher of the ASSIST News Service (ANS), because of CCWC. I didn’t attend the conference when Dan, a longstanding author, broadcasters and journalist, was on the faculty, but my friend, Bonnie, was on the lookout for me. She emailed me after that conference and encouraged me to sign up for articles from ASSIST. It would be years before I would build up the courage to email a story to Dan. Once I did, I found an outlet for my writing.
The 2015 CCWC featured a faculty of 56 authors, editors, and agents. Attendees could choose from 18 early bird workshops, 8 continuing sessions, and 42 workshops or 4 hands-on clinics.
I almost didn’t attend the 2015 conference. Couldn’t afford it. I was happy with the direction of my writing. ANS was publishing my articles about disability ministry. People were reading my stuff and contacting me either to reprint my articles or to, ask for more information about the ministry. Many sent encouraging notes.
One of my readers was Marlene Bagnull, the director of CCWC. She emailed me one day saying that she’d been reading my articles about disability ministry. She invited me to speak at the conference. How could I say no?
That’s how I found myself at the 2015 Colorado Christian Writers Conference. Returning to this beautiful mountain area was refreshing. I was able to speak one night about my ministry and how the church needs to be more open to people living with disabilities. I took a class on spiritual warfare that fed my spirit and a class on bettering my website that helped me professionally.
Conference director, Marlene Bagnull, is always a pleasure to be around. Here is someone who runs one of the premier writing conferences in the country and is concerned about what’s happening around the world. Not only did I speak about disability ministry, someone spoke to us about prison ministry. One lady spoke about her ministry to orphans in Africa. Someone else showed how to use the Logos Bible Study Software.
CCWC is always about more than just writing. It’s about reconnecting with friends and making new ones. It’s about time with the Lord and hearing His voice. I did both at this year’s conference. And I can’t wait to attend next year for the family reunion.
The 2016 Colorado Christian Writers Conference will be held May 11-14. For more information, please visit http://colorado.writehisanswer.com/.
Photo captions: 1) Tait and his wife speaking about his ministry. 2) Marlene Bagnull. 3) Tait Berge.
About the writer: Tait Berge is the Church Relations Director for Mephibosheth Ministry, an organization that encourages churches to include people with special needs in their congregation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Leadership and Ethics from Nazarene Bible College. Born with cerebral palsy, Tait believes the Lord ordained his disability. He knows the Lord is using it to glorify Him and prays He will continue to use him in mighty ways. Tait lives in Colorado Springs and attends International Anglican Church. He has written three books. Please visit http://www.taitberge.com for more information about Tait and his ministry.
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