Bible Belles: Why Representation Matters
Erin Weidemann is a woman with a message of hope for all to hear. As a five time cancer survivor, author, host of the Heroes For Her podcast, and cofounder of Bible Belles, a group which aims to empower young woman by highlighting the female heroes in the Bible, she is an inspiring role model for women and girls everywhere. Weidemann is also a national speaker and has spoken for the American Cancer Society and has toured with KLove/Air1’s Dare to Dream Program. She has been featured in Christianity Today and has been interviewed on The 700 Club. Hope for Women: What inspires you to help others?
The time we have on this planet is not only short, it is precious. I don’t want to waste any of it. I was given a second chance at life and I want to spend whatever time I have left doing the things that matter most: loving people and pointing them to Jesus. Every day is another opportunity to spend my time, and effort, helping the next generation to have a meaningful encounter with God. There is nothing that inspires me more.
HOPE: Why is representation important even in bible stories?
The majority of the teaching in the church is male-centered. It has been since the beginning. It’s not to say that the stories of men in the Bible aren’t important. They are. But something very special happens in the mind and the heart of a little girl when she experiences a positive female role model. When that woman’s story aligns with her own, something inside her can awaken. Pointing girls toward women of character is a powerful weapon in the fight for their identities. When a little girl can truly connect with her heroes, she can discover the hero inside herself.
HOPE: What led to your decision to become a teacher?
I was first diagnosed with cancer at age 26, after spending the previous ten years making every mistake possible. I was so self-absorbed that the only decisions I could make had to do with earning money, recognition, and the world’s definition of success. I had no relationship with the Lord at that time. As part of my treatment, I had to be quarantined for 72 hours. I was locked in a room, alone and afraid. In the middle of that treatment, I found myself on the floor of a bathroom, crying out to a Father I had rejected, begging for his help. Once I got out of that room, I decided not to spend one more day wasting the gifts, talents, and dreams God had placed inside me. I wanted to do something that would create real impact and that meant helping and teaching children. I went back to school and earned my credentials and immediately began my teaching career.
HOPE: Who is a woman of influence in your life?
Lisa Bevere. She is a friend, mentor, and someone who I look to for continued inspiration and encouragement in the journey of life. I deeply value her commitment to helping women understand better how to live into our God-breathed destinies. She is a force and a warrior for Jesus and she inspires me to walk boldly in my calling.
HOPE: Why is it important to give young girls strong role models?
Culture tells our girls that their worth depends on their physical beauty. It tells them that, to gain love and respect, they should spend their time in a constant state of pretense. Look and act like you have it all together. Tear others down so you can feel more important.
Care more about the way you look more than the way you treat people. Girl World has always been fueled by insecurity, comparison, and a serious misunderstanding of who we are as image bearers of God. Our girls need strong role models to show them that, instead of seeking the approval of others, they should be seeking the appointments of God: the opportunities where they are called to rise above the noise of culture and be relevant for his kingdom. If we want to impact this world for Jesus, we need a generation of girls who know the truth about who they are and will do the work God created them to do.
HOPE: Please tell us a bit about what inspired you to create the Bible Belles book series?
The world has a lot to tell girls about beauty. The world is wrong, but it is loud. We started Bible Belles because we wanted to celebrate the women of scripture as real heroes for girls today. All of the little girls we knew could name and tell us all about every Disney Princess, but not one of them could name a woman in the Bible with whom they had formed a meaningful connection. If we want our girls to connect with God’s Word, we need to help them connect with the stories of the women: real heroes whose inner beauty God used in powerful ways. Our vision for Bible Belles is to help girls understand that character, not culture, is what determines real beauty and guide them on a five-step journey to discover God’s love and his purpose for their lives: to be relevant for his kingdom and to use their influence to point others to him.
HOPE: What advice would you give to parents looking to encourage their daughters to read the word?
Don’t allow your own reservations or lack of knowledge stop you from pointing your daughter to the Bible. It is our life’s manual and the only book she will ever read that has all of the answers to life’s questions in it. If she is to grow a meaningful relationship with the Lord, have an encounter with Jesus, and fulfill the pre-destined purpose for her life, then the Bible will be her guidebook.
HOPE: How did being diagnosed with cancer change your outlook on life and your relationship with God?
My diagnosis changed everything and, to this day, I consider it be the single greatest blessing I have ever received. It forced me to question how I had chosen to live my life, challenge my own reservations and judgments about the Christian faith, and start asking the question we are all meant to ask. “God, what is the work you created me to do? What purpose in this life am I destined to serve?”
HOPE: What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment is having been willing to give myself a second chance to know God and to believe him for his promise in Jeremiah 29:11-13.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
HOPE: What do you plan to do in the future?
I plan to be available and ready for opportunities where I can be used to reveal God’s glory.