Daring to Dream
After Lois Breit’s husband left her, she faced raising five children alone. Sadly, she became part of the rising number of women in similar plights, coping with overwhelming responsibility while dealing with grief, anger, loneliness, and depression from divorce.
Years later, Breit, who had since become the first Assemblies of God missionary to single moms, connected with a prayer circle of women that included Carol L. Lund, director of Bridging the Gap women’s ministries for the AG Minnesota District. The women explored the need for churches to become involved with single moms in both the practical and spiritual realm. The Dare to Dream single moms retreat was birthed to help demonstrate God’s love to single mothers and to reaffirm His trustworthiness, both caring for attendees’ felt needs and offering spiritual encouragement.
When married parents divorce, the mother usually receives primary custody of children. Forty percent of all births in the United States are to unmarried women. The title Dare to Dream came from Lund’s desire to encourage single moms with renewed vision, hope, and trust in God’s future plans for them.
“So many single moms’ dreams have been dashed,” Lund says. “They need to know that they are loved, valued, and that someone cares about their holistic well-being.”
The fifth annual weekend event May 20-21 will provide a full-service spa and a “diva boutique” filled with new and gently used clothing for each attendee to shop for a complete outfit at no cost. Mechanics and volunteers oversee the car-care area, offering safety inspections, fluid checks, vacuuming, and sometimes small repairs.
Main sessions include worship and biblical teaching, beginning with God’s love and forgiveness, “because those elements are foundational to hearts being receptive,” Lund says. Attendees also will hear the gospel. At a previous retreat, 75 accepted Christ as Savior.
The Saturday breakout sessions will address topics such as parenting, domestic violence, healthy dating, women’s safety, financial freedom, cooking on a budget, and restoration after abortion. Lund has discovered that some attendees have had at least one abortion, typically because they believe they cannot afford the children already in their care.
Domestic violence also is a relevant topic. In one breakout session last year, Lund notes that advocates not only spoke to the issue but also did interventions.
Hosting an event of this size is expensive; however, Lund’s purpose always has been to offer tickets at a minimal cost by partnering with Minnesota AG churches for most of the funding.
“From the start, we wanted to do an event for single moms with excellence, while being affordable,” Lund says. The retreat also receives product donations from individuals and businesses, including pizza, coffee, fine apparel, and jewelry.
At the first statewide retreat in 2011, planners thought 50 moms might show up, but 200 came. This year, they are prepared for 700.
The team promotes the event through sending more than 17,000 mailers, in addition to email blasts and social media marketing. Volunteers post mailers in laundry facilities, gas stations, grocery stores, bars, and other places that single moms might frequent.
Because most of the attendees have never taken part in a retreat and often come alone, Bridging the Gap mobilizes dozens of volunteers from churches across Minnesota to help them feel welcome. The stories volunteers hear are shocking.
“Some attendees had suicides planned out but decided to go to this retreat,” Breit says. “All the time I hear, Now I’ve found a hope, and I believe I can make it.”
While the Dare to Dream single moms retreat is one avenue to reach single moms, Lund’s and Breit’s greater desires are to bring awareness to individuals and churches that single moms exist and inspire them to get involved.
“If you reach the mom, you can change the direction of where the family has been going for probably several generations,” Breit says.