ASCEND 2015 – Hope

ASCEND Women’s conference, in its fourth year of production, continues the mission in ministry outreach to women across the city, nation, and around the world. ASCEND is the result of a calling from God to see all women saved, set free, and His name glorified. This year in HOPE, we were encouraged by Keynote speakers Nancy Stafford, Isik Abla, and Star Parker, who all spoke of passionate journeys and inspiring messages. It was our first year hosting breakout sessions with guest speakers including Star Parker, Laurie Polich Short, Kathleen Cooke, and Pages & Grace: The Art & Legacy of Faith Filled Expressions.

Hosted back in the ASCEND Team’s home of Bel Air Church, almost 400 women came in from all parts of the country to be educated, inspired, and ignited for God’s kingdom.

HOPE Keynote Speakers

NANCY STAFFORD is known to millions as Andy Griffth’s law partner on TV’s Matlock. She has been a series regular on six network TV series, including five years on Matlock, three years on the Emmy-award winning St Elsewhere, ABC’s Sidekicks, and began her acting career as a regular on the NBC daytime drama The Doctors.

She has guest-starred on numerous shows including The Mentalist, Frasier, ER, and Quantum Leap, starred in TV movies including Assumed Killer and Deadly Invasion, and is the ‘voice’ in numerous projects–from Mattel video games to PBS documentaries.

She is the ‘’Christmas queen” with Hallmark favorites Christmas with a Capital C, Christmas for a Dollar, and Christmas Oranges. Her latest films include I Am Not Ashamed–the true story of Rachel Scott, the first student killed at Columbine for her faith, the soon to be released comedy Heaven Bound, and the TV series Running.

As a producer and screenwriter she recently co-produced, co-wrote, and stars in the TV pilot Generation 4.0, along with other projects in development at several studios and networks. She co-hosted the syndicated TV talk show Love, Marriage, and Stinking Thinking with Mark Gungor, and for ten years hosted Main Floor, the network-syndicated lifestyle & fashion magazine series airing in over 40 countries around the world.

Nancy is the author of two books published by Penguin Random House: The Wonder of His Love: A Journey into the Heart of God, which author/teacher Beth Moore says “is like a warm embrace from God Himself,” and Beauty by the Book: Seeing Yourself as God Sees You, called by ASSIST News Service “one of the most valuable Christian books to be published in decades.” As a speaker, she travels extensively sharing with women’s groups, churches, colleges, corporations, and non-profits.

Nancy has made numerous trips to Israel and many Arab countries. For many years she was on the Board of SAT-7, a Christian Satellite television network with 15 million viewers weekly, airing indigenous programming developed and produced by and for Christians in the Middle East and North Africa. She now serves as Chair of SAT-7 Women for Middle East Hope, to help bring awareness of the suppression and suffering of women in the Middle East and North Africa and to bring spiritual and practical hope to women in the region.

Off-screen, Nancy serves on Biola University Studio Task Force, serves on the Dove Foundation Advisory Board, and Greenhouse Arts & Media Board. She is a frequent speaker at media events, and is a Guest Artist/ Faculty member at performing arts schools and colleges nationwide.

Nancy and her musician husband, Larry Myers, have been married for 27 years and live in Los Angeles. Of her many roles, her favorite by far is Grandma to 15-year-old Blake.

STAR PARKER is the Founder and President of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE). Prior to Star Parker’s involvement in public policy, she lived seven years in the grip of government dependency. Her experiences on welfare led to her to play an active role in the passing of federal welfare reform in 1996. From welfare mother to businesswoman, national celebrity, and international author, Star Parker exemplifies hard work, aspiration, and individual responsibility. CURE serves to lead others to follow her example and bring new energy to policy discussions in Washington.

Star received her bachelor’s degree in Marketing and International Business from Woodbury University and has received numerous awards for her work on public policy issues.
Star is a best-selling author with four books including Uncle Sam’s Plantation, which details how big government enslaves America’s poor and what we can do about it, as well as Blind Conceit, which offers a way for America to move forward on the issues of racial polarization, politics, and policy.

Through her weekly national television appearances and internationally distributed column, Star has appeared on all major television stations and newspapers. She regularly consults with both federal and state legislators on market-based strategies to fight poverty; she has spoken at hundreds of colleges and universities about anti-poverty initiatives; has authored several books; and is a nationally syndicated columnist.

A number of organizations have endorsed Star’s work including Susan B. Anthony List, Eagle Forum, Heritage Foundation, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Family Research Council, Young America’s Foundation, Conservative Leadership PAC, and the American Conservative Union.

Star’s public policy work has been endorsed by over 50 nationally acclaimed figures and elected offcials including James Dobson, Pat Boone, Steve Forbes, Morton Blackwell, Phyllis Schlafly, Dr. Ben Carson, Senator Ted Cruz, Representative Mia Love, Senator Tim Scott , Representative Kevin McCarthy, and Senator Mike Lee.

IŞIK ABLA (Pronounced Ishyk) was born and raised in a Muslim home in Turkey. Growing up IŞIK faced physical and emotional abuse. In 1996, IŞIK sought freedom in America. However, that did not end her suffering. In 2000, she hit rock bottom and began plotting her suicide. But on
the day she was planning to end her life, Jesus revealed himself to her in a miraculous way. She surrendered her life to Christ and began a new chapter. She served different positions as CFO, then as CEO, of North American operations for a European corporation.

God burdened her heart for those suffering from the same abuse, rejection, and depression she experienced. In 2009, IŞIK felt the call on her life to reach her country and began hosting a satellite TV program on Kanal Hayat Turkish-language channel. The response was overwhelming. Two years later, she added a live call-in program: The Way, The Truth and The Life that is broadcast throughout the Middle East and Europe. The program targets approximately 120 million people.

In 2013, IŞIK started Embracing New Life, a TV program in English. Today, the ministry has reached over 300 million people through Social Media alone. Facebook has 2.8 million Likes and 1.5 million hits daily from Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, the US, and many more. These programs are targeting 500 million Muslims and are being dubbed into Urdu, Farsi and Arabic. In 2015, Embracing New Life began airing in the United States on NRB Network, Inspiration TV, and Sky4. IŞIK’s programs are also broadcasted on 5 radio stations throughout the United States. Viewers from all over the world receive IŞIK’s message of hope, love and freedom in Christ. To learn more about IŞIK ABLA please visit www.ISI .

Breakout Session Speakers

KATHLEEN COOKE is an actress, businesswoman, writer, speaker, and a founding partner (with husband, Phil Cooke) at Cooke Pictures ( and The Influence Lab ( in Burbank CA. She edits the monthly Influence Women Newsletter,, and weekly blog:, and is a column regular for WHOA Magazine, She was the co-founder/director of two nationally recognized conferences, Biola Media Conference and the women’s ASCEND Conference. On the boards for Hollywood Connect, Hollywood Prayer Network, and the National Salvation Army, she travels internationally speaking on faith, media, leadership, and culture. Her passion is to see women flourish and find significance beginning with a vibrant relationship with God.
You can follow Kathleen on twitter @KathyCooke or on Instagram: KathleenRCooke

LAURIE POLICH SHORT is a speaker and an author, and serves on staff at Ocean Hills Covenant Church in Santa Barbara, CA. She speaks at conferences, colleges, and churches around the country, and has spoken to over 500,000 people in the last 25 years.

Laurie is a graduate of Fuller Seminary, and the author of several books. Her latest release “Finding Faith in the Dark” reveals how we can find God in the dark times, and how our response to our circumstances can make a difference in the way our story unfolds. She recently released a video series to accompany the book, which is available on Right Now Media, as well as her website. Laurie’s next book, “When Changing Nothing Changes Everything” will be released in early 2017.

Laurie has been in ministry for thirty years, and has served on staff at four churches. She is here at ASCEND representing Compassion International, but will also be speaking in one breakout session.



PAGES & GRACE – Bible Art Journaling was founded by two friends, Kimberle Gamble & DeAnna Kane, who decided to start a Bible study because there simply wasn’t one in their area. They discovered a passion to help facilitate inner desires to dig deeper into God’s word through artful expressions of His Amazing Grace and how it has affected one’s life. Their hope is to provide people with the inspiration and tools that will allow them to deepen their faith, and provide a tangible legacy to pass down to anyone who becomes the recipient of their own Bible love story. Bible art journaling is illuminating the pages of the Bible with inspirations, drawings, personal notes and embellishments. This medium allows one to relate to scripture in ways they may never have before. The hope is to help foster expression of a visual faith onto the pages of the Bible that it would imprint it further onto the heart.

HOPE 2016