The Sisterhood Story

The Colour Sisterhood is a growing movement of women arising on the earth, who are responding to a simple invitation to BE THE CHANGE and make a positive difference in their local and global communities.

From the very early beginnings of Colour Conference the invitation has always been to make the world a better place. In the early years we began by partnering with Compassion as the children of the world have always been vitally important to us as a conference. Through that partnership, over the past 20 years we have sponsored over 16 379 children through Colour Conference alone. This relationship continues today as we endeavour to respond to the needs of families living in poverty all over the world.

As a local women’s conference it has always been our heart to leave a tangible impact on the city where we gather, through practical response to needs in our local community. Over the years, Colour conference delegates have contributed items, gift vouchers and donations towards women suffering  breast cancer; refugees and asylum seekers, children going back to school; women in domestic violence shelters; nursing homes and prisons; indigenous women as well emergency response for families facing floods. In 2015 we estimated that we had been able to assist over 13 000 individuals and families around the world as a result of our local impact projects in the cities we host Colour. Local impact is now a tradition and an integral part of our gathering as women. In 2018 this legacy will continue as we gather and bless our cities around the world.

"Orphans to rescue, sisters to come alongside and nations to believe in."

Around 2004 Bobbie tells a story in her book “The Sisterhood” about knowing she needed to return from holiday because there were “orphans to rescue, sisters to come alongside and nations to believe in” At the time she didn’t know how prophetic those words would be but as we gathered in 2005 that first part of the statement “orphans to rescue” started to become reality as we inspired the delegates to raise funds in partnership with Watoto and Marilyn Skinner to build homes for orphan children in Uganda. Over the next few years, as we raised awareness and provided tools for girls to respond over 63 homes were built in Uganda through that partnership and many hundreds of children have benefitted from that partnership and awakening of the women of Colour Conference. Although $2.5 million was directly funnelled through the Sisterhood to Watoto that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the response that came as a result of that profile and awareness.

The second part of that revelation around the sisters to come alongside really came to the fore through what Bobbie affectionately calls the Stiletto stampede of 2008 Colour Conference when we presented the needs of the  women in Africa living with HIV/AIDS. Delegates stampeded out to the marquee to sponsor women standing alongside them as they fought to stay alive and raise their own children. Over 1400 women were supported through that initial program and many more have been supported through the 500 projects since then. Living Hope, as the program was named, has now become Watoto Neighbourhood and we continue to stand with the women and their babies as they forge better lives for themselves. Through this project the Colour Sisterhood also raised over $300 000 for facial reconstruction surgeries for women who had been disfigured as a result of the civil war that had raged in Uganda for decades.

In 2018 we will also be celebrating 10 years since the start of A21, an initiative birthed out of the heart of Colour Conference to address the problem of Human Trafficking across the world. Through financial giving, awareness raising as well as rallying around prayer, we have supported Chris Caine and her team as they have  sought to make a difference in this space. Our walk for Freedom t-shirts (the gift at colour 2011) were the inspiration for the walk for freedom that A21 now run annually to raise awareness and funds. Our Colour Sisterhood have been  a part of these walks right from the beginning and this continues today.  This partnership is instrumental to our understanding of standing alongside vulnerable women in our world.

"The Colour Sisterhood has always been about making "be the change" accessible to everyone."

The Colour Sisterhood has always been about making “be the change” accessible to everyone, From our tools that we have created over the years, including our walk for freedom t-shirts; be the change teapots, prayer journals, knitting needles and many more. In 2012 we broke all of our projects down into small bite size $500 amounts with the aim of making sisterhood more accessible for everyone. Our 500projects, as we named them, have raised over $1 million since that date and have assisted all of our partners including Hamlin Australia, SHE rescue, Watoto, World Vision, Vision Rescue, Hillsong Africa Foundation, A21, Open Doors, Preemptive Love Coalition, The Bible Society and others. These projects were designed to make being the change really practical and possible for everyone. In 2013 , 2014 and 2017 we distributed little money tins designed to making these 500projects simple for everyone.

The idea of nations has been in Bobbie’s heart since the beginning and has outworked itself in various ways, prayer being at the heart of it all. We strategically sought to mobilise girls to pray in a strategic way through our prayer maps in 2012 focussing on key borders and cities where trafficking was rife. We worked with our partners to map out these borders and ask women to pray for trafficking rings to be broken and for miraculous rescues to take place. In “the Sisterhood” book Bobbie tells many stories of just some of the miracles that have come from these maps.

"...let prayer do the heavy lifting."

In 2016 this prayer focus was heightened once again as we launched our #middaybabymidday initiative which was about inspiring women to pray at midday every day as a company of women for the challenges facing our world. This initiative has been instrumental in engaging every day girls with the message of sisterhood and making it accessible for everyone to get involved. Through social media this initiative continues to build and take shape as women make it their personal revelation to “let prayer do the heavy lifting.” Over 11 000 posts on instagram have used the hashtag as girls from all over the world have taken the challenge to pray. Prayer continues to be a key focus as we seek to inspire women to engage with the challenges of the world, many of which there are no easy or visible solutions to.

In 2017 we sought to bring awareness and response to the humanitarian emergency facing the middle east through the refugee crisis engulfing that region. We sought to engage the hearts of our delegates yet again as they grappled with how we as a sisterhood could respond, both locally and globally (read more about the Refugee Response here). 

The Colour Sisterhood has always been about making the world a better place, it exists to champion women in their calling and planting to make a difference, to choose empathy, to engage with the issues facing children, women and nations around the world and to respond.

This heartbeat hasn’t changed as in 2018 we are reimagining those foundational words of “children, sisters and nations” and using them to guide us as we seek to yet again compel and commission our girls  to “be the change”. So please join us on the next part of our journey as we REFLECT on what is in our hands, RESPOND to the challenges and needs in our world and RALLY together to tell people that #iamsisterhood

I Am Sisterhood is a declaration.

A declaration that is bold and strong, quiet and confident.

A declaration about value and identity, purpose and mission.

It is a declaration intentional in reach And embrace.

It transcends culture and creed, age and status, prejudice and preference.

I AM SISTERHOOD DECLARATION – Bobbie Houston

[Read the full declaration here]

We are part of a global awakening of God’s daughters on the earth, but as much as it is collective, it is also personal. Together we are building upon a rich history and perhaps only when we get to heaven will we see the full impact of the Sisterhood on earth, but for now, “let us not grow weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” Galatians 6:9

 

Catherine Thambiratnam
Colour Sisterhood