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Chattin'

K.D. Stewart stands for a portrait inside the Wolcott Galleria Wednesday in Casper. Stewart will be hosting a two-day Bible encounter in the space on Friday and Saturday.

Pain to Praise is a two-day “encounter” with the Bible, planned by Casper-raised K.D. Stewart. The ticketed event features numerous presenters, including a speech by the widow of the space shuttle Columbia commander Rick Husband, as well as worship, music and an artisan market.

We chatted with Stewart about what led her to establish the nonprofit Deep End Ministries and organize this first encounter that will be held Friday evening and all day Saturday at the Wolcott Galleria event venue, 136 S. Wolcott.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I grew up in Casper — Crest Hill, Dean Morgan, Natrona, University of Wyoming, and I was in broadcast journalism for 14 years. I went south and became a Southern city girl — thought I’d never leave. In 2007, I went to seminary at Dallas Theological Seminary at age 40, and in 2011, I graduated with a master’s of theology degree. Within a few months of my graduation, I began to be stalked by a man in Dallas who had been one of my mentors. I came home to shelter in place. It has been a place of healing. I never anticipated I’d be here for seven-plus years. I’m learning God’s purpose in that and as I learn that, I want to share that with others. I live with PTSD and depression. It’s hard to take that publicly but we have to start being honest and authentic about our life experiences as Christ followers.

Can you tell us the idea behind the encounter weekend? It’s something kind of new in Casper. It’s a weekend encounter with the Lord. We’re going to get very real, very raw, help people go to a place that’s very personal with the Lord. I like the word encounter because conference seems too business-like, workshop seems too boring. We’re going to encounter God’s faithfulness in the midst of their struggles, we’re going a mile deep and an inch wide. And the only thing worse than pain is pain with no purpose.

Is this women specific or are men welcome too? It’s specific to people who struggle and suffer and want to know where God is — it’s not girly, not burly, it’s Bible and it’s truth.

Tell us about the featured speaker. I met Evelyn Husband, now Thompson, within a few weeks of the Columbia accident in February 2003. I was with a Christian public relations firm and she was thrust onto the international media stage. I was a media relations specialist so I traveled with her Mother’s Day 2003 to California. Her very first public event was the Billy Graham Crusade in San Diego and Billy and Franklin Graham were both there. She’s going to share the gift that the Lord has given her to tell her story, to speak truth and life into people’s lives. God in his infinite wisdom has given her a tremendous platform. I started out as her publicist. She taught me how to suffer well and has become a dear, dear friend. When I told her about this idea I had last fall, she asked, “can I come and speak to your people in Casper?” She is traveling here at her own expense and I’ll add that no one — no one involved in this is getting paid to be here.

And there is an artisan market? Yes, the Made in Faith Market features local artisans who are using their gifts to produce something that honors the Lord and blesses people. We know it’s the Nic Fest too that weekend, but God is very intentional and he’s going to put all these awesome people downtown at the same time so they can experience it all. All proceeds over and above expenses will be split between Deep End Ministries and True Care Ministries of Casper, and all proceeds from the market go straight to True Care as well.

Tell us about the tickets. The market is open to the public at no cost. The encounter is a ticketed event and includes it all — the whole program, refreshments, the market. Tickets will be deeply discounted this week at our sellers — Donnell’s Candy, Cadillac Cowgirl and Total Elegance, and on the website, www.Pain2Praise.com. At the door, tickets are $45.

And you have scholarships? Yes, there are scholarships available. Please email info@thedeepend.org if you need to be at the encounter and need help with a ticket.

Is this going to be a “heavy” weekend? It’s a combo of heavy and uplifting. We’re going to stir your soul and tickle your funny bone. Evelyn is just hilarious, she has a great sense of humor and that comes through in her messages. And one of my books is titled, “Would I Really Marry My Cat — From the Ridiculous to the Raw, What I Have Learned About Trusting God While Living in My Mother’s Basement,” so I can get pretty ridiculous as well.

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Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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