After over 24 years of serving the women in this area, the Ladies Only Luncheon at Immanuel Baptist Church held the last monthly meeting Oct. 24, with guest speaker and founder, Adah Mayhan of El Dorado.
“We began planning (for the Ladies Luncheon) in March 1993, and the first luncheon was May 18, 1993,” Mayhan said. The Ladies Only Luncheon had become a staple in the lives of hundreds of women throughout this area.
“Our goal was to provide a place for women to be encouraged,” she said, noting that after she served as speaker for the first three luncheons, she realized early on in the ministry that guest speakers could provide firsthand experiences of different struggles and offer hope to local women facing some of the same life situations.
Kay Ruddell, who has been working with the Ladies Luncheon since its inception, introduced Mayhan and said, “The Lord has blessed the Ladies Luncheon. This is exactly His plan – a full house on the last day” of the luncheons. Additional tables had to be set up in the Family Life Center of Immanuel Baptist Church to accommodate the crowd gathered for the last luncheon. Many in the crowd had been attending the luncheons throughout the past 24 years.
“This ministry is not about Immanuel Baptist Church or Adah Mayhan. It’s about the Lord Jesus Christ making a difference in people’s lives,” Ruddell said.
The first guest speaker other than Mayhan, who also attended the last Ladies Luncheon in October, was Diana Walker, Mayhan said, explaining that over the 24-plus years of the ministry, there have been over 250 speakers (with very few duplicates) and over 300 singers, choirs or groups with musical talents who have entertained throughout the ministry. “All the presentations were by riveting speakers who told what God has done for them.”
Mayhan thanked the many volunteers who have worked to make the Ladies Luncheon a success, including JoAnn Hughes, who has decorated the tables throughout the 24-year ministry. “The staff here has been wonderful,” she said, thanking those in the television ministry at the church, those who have set up and cleaned up, cooked and served the food and made sure everything was ready and in working order for guest speakers and performers during the luncheons.
Usually, between 150 and 200 women put the Ladies Luncheon on their calendars and have attended every month, Mayhan said.
The biggest crowd, about 500 people, attended the 10th anniversary of the luncheon in May 2003, when Deena Burnett was guest speaker. Her husband, Tom Burnett, was aboard United Airlines Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001. She said when terrorists took over the airplane, travelers talking to loved ones on phones on the airplane, realized the imminent danger of the plane crashing into the White House and banned together to thwart the attempt, ultimately losing their own lives when the plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. “Don’t worry, we’re going to do something,” were the last words she heard him speak, she told the 500 people present to hear her story.
“It has been an incredible journey, but it’s time for this ministry to end,” Mayhan said, as she began to list some of the “truths that God has taught me over the years. When I began this ministry, I didn’t feel qualified – I had no training – but I had a keen sense of God’s calling” me to this ministry, she said.
Remembering her first times speaking before a crowd, Mayhan said, “All of us feel insecure and experience shortness of breath, dry mouth, heart beating fast and sometimes overwhelmed. Over the years, I’ve never felt confident in myself and I’ve always been totally dependant on God.
“The first act of trust is to acknowledge our sins and accept Jesus as our Savior and ask for forgiveness,” Mayhan said. “We don’t hold onto anything ourselves – we give it to God – and don’t take it back.”
Mayhan also recalled something the first Ladies Luncheon speaker said, “When did we decide we can take back our problems from the Creator of the Universe?”
Christians should rely on God’s character, ability, strength and trust, she said, adding, “When we are overcome with problems, we have to claim what we know about God – He’s faithful, He loves us, He’s good, He’s just and He works for our good. He is unchanging. Only God is worthy of our trust,” Mayhan told the crowd at Immanuel.
After reading and expounding on Psalm 23 – one of the best known chapters in The Bible – Mayhan said, “Because the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need. Of the billions of people on earth, God knows my heart and what I need – He even knows the number of hairs on our heads.”
During the last Ladies Luncheon, Mayhan’s husband Robert, son Steve, daughter Cindy Greer, two sisters, Betty Taylor and Jimmie Carter and niece Allyson Peterson attended the historic El Dorado gathering.
At the conclusion of the last luncheon, Greer sang “Revelation Song,” that includes the words, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come – with all creation I sing, praise to the King of kings, You are my everything and I will adore You. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. Holy, holy is He. Sing a new song to Him who sits on heaven’s mercy seat. Clothed in rainbows of living color, flashes of lighting, rolls of thunder, blessing and honor, strength and glory and power be to You the only one who’s King. Filled with wonder, awestruck wonder at the mention of Your name, Jesus Your name is power, breath and living water.”