May 28, 2005: Authentic Women of Canada Conference with Keynote Speaker - Kim Phuc


Authentic Women of Canada’s (AWOC) third annual women’s conference was held this year at Wellington Square Church in Burlington, just west of Toronto. The theme for this year’s conference was forgiveness and the day featured many well-known Canadian women’s ministries, musicians and performers including Kelita, Carol Weicker, Pat Russell and Yemisi. The AWOC is a ministry led by Michelle Sim of Northern Praise Ministries (NPM) and Debbie Pugh – both who have a heart for women of God especially in Canada.


This year’s speakers included Darla Walker, Executive Director of Stonecroft Ministries in Canada and Kim Phuc, the little girl in the world-famous picture of her running down Highway One in South Vietnam on June 8, 1972 after suffering massive burns from a Napalm bomb attack. Kim now resides in Canada and speaks many times a year in Canada and around the world.


The morning started off with Praise & Worship led by Diane Tarantino. Then Darla Walker delivered a powerful message on how the Lord brought scripture passages to her mind in a dangerous and frightening situation in an airport on a business trip. 2 Cor.10:5(NIV) “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” was one of those verses that gave her the power and confidence to refute all negative thoughts of what might happen, thoughts of her safety, thoughts of never seeing her family & friends again; and replace them with thoughts of God and His many Promises to her that were still true even though her circumstances were tenuous.


Darla shared that through the Grace of God and only through His abiding Love, was she able to come to a place of forgiveness for those people who traumatized her in that airport. She encouraged all Ladies at the conference to come into obedience to their Heavenly Father and forgive anyone who hurt them so the Love of God could fill their place of pain and sorrow.


Several ministries and outreaches had booths and demonstrations set up in the foyer of the church. These included Belma Vardy of Celebration of Dance, The Blind Mission in Canada, Curves, Tragedy to Victory (ministry of Peter & Rebecca Kramer) and World Vision Canada. Other artisans had displays of their works. The sound systems were provided by and operated by rpdynamics of Mississauga.


A wonderful lunch was served with plenty of time for sharing and fellowship. Old friendships were renewed and many new ones made by the attendees. There was also lots of time to browse the bookstands and learn of the many wonderful Women’s ministries so close to home.


The afternoon included wonderful praise and worship leading into the moving presentation by Kim. Her story is one of supreme forgiveness that spans generations and continents. Her story vividly shows how God moves in a person’s life day by day, sometimes minute by minute and ultimately year by year. After Kim spoke, a surprise musician by the name of Danny Brooks delighted the conference with his ‘home-grown’ style of gospel music.


It was Ian’s privilege to be asked to go and pick up and drive Kim from her home to the conference and return her afterwards. Over an hour spent each way in the car meant he heard many details of her journey from war-torn Vietnam to Cuba to Canada and gleaned insights that are not generally known.   


Here are a few pictures from the day.




Praise & Worship led by Diane Tarantino              Everyone was thrilled with the whole day



Lunch was served in the church gymnasium            Marg helping on the AWOC bookstand



Belma Vardy of ‘Celebration of Dance’            The folks from Christian Blind Mission Int’l



Michelle Sim & others enjoying the Worship             Darla Walker, Kim Phuc and Ian Ridpath



Ms Kim Phuc – ‘the girl in the picture’               Surprise guest artist Danny Brooks



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