Ever wonder how the JOY Breakfast came to be? Well, it all starts with one afternoon twenty years ago...
JOY International Founder Fran Dwelle and her family were living in Vienna, Austria at that time. One day, while attending an international women’s event in a hotel ballroom in that city, an exciting thought grabbed hold of her heart and mind: “Wouldn’t it be great if there could be an event for women here in Vienna -- both Austrian and international women -- but with a Christian purpose? With the purpose of helping women develop a deep, practical faith in God?”
Fran shared her idea with a close friend, and the two of them rolled up their sleeves, secured a location, and launched the very first JOY Breakfast.
“We wanted to draw women together across international lines, including refugees (from the Balkan war), to encourage them to discover how Christ can walk with us through even the most challenging times and how a vibrant relationship with God is possible.”
The event was warmly received by women throughout the city and continued to grow year after year, drawing hundreds of women to each JOY Breakfast.
When Fran and her family relocated to the United States, her dream was to see if a similar effort would be welcomed by women here. From the very start, it became apparent that women found such a gathering to be meaningful.
Since the first JOY Breakfast in Bismarck in 2006, the JOY Leadership team has been thrilled by how well it has been embraced as an interdenominational event that encourages unity within the Christian community. Women from the full spectrum of Christian traditions, as well as those who have no religious affiliation, come together to spend a springtime Saturday morning each year. With over 700 women in attendance, the Bismarck JOY Breakfast has become one of the largest women’s events in North Dakota.
The JOY Breakfast helps women draw closer to God and to others. “There is bridge-building that happens [at the JOY Breakfast and the other JOY-sponsored events]. And there’s a blessing in experiencing spiritual unity as women share together the love of Christ,” explains Fran.
Returning attendees are drawn to the JOY Breakfast by their memories of a positive experience as well as the fellowship factor. “Every woman comes with needs in the areas of encouragement, help, instruction, and connection,” states Fran; and, according to the feedback received after each JOY Breakfast, “the Holy Spirit touches women at the point of their needs during the morning’s event.”
As you might guess, it takes a whole team to make the morning of the JOY Breakfast a success, and Fran has some glowing words to share about the group that works alongside her: “They are remarkable women. All of them. We enjoy each other. We recognize our mutual commitment to the vision of JOY and our willingness to invest our time and effort. Each of us is different, but we have great unity,” she enthuses.
With Fran and her team working hard on this year’s JOY Breakfast, she explains that she would be in attendance on that Saturday morning even if she weren’t so intimately involved. “I would attend so that I could invite a friend, connect with other women, and receive some spiritual refreshment.” To those who may be undecided about attending she says, “Just come. Give it a try.”
So, friend, come. Give it a try. You’ll be so glad you did.