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Posted on Jan 17, 2013 in Student Spotlights

Alumni Use Skills to Support Women in Missions and Ministry


After earning graduate degrees in conflict resolution at Abilene Christian University, Mariana Long and Kelliann Hale use their conflict resolution skills to minister to women all over the world though Come before Winter.  With years of missions experience of their own, Long and Hale have a deep affection for women in ministry and missions.

Founded by Karen Alexander of Austin, Texas, the mission of Come before Winter is to renew, equip, honor, and unite women in God’s service around the world.  This five-day spiritual renewal program takes place twice each year at different locations world-wide.  The program is for any English-speaking missionary, missionary’s wife, minister’s wife, church leader’s wife, or any woman in a congregation who finds herself in a recognized (not necessarily a titled) leadership position. Each renewal involves an exegetical study of various books of the Bible, time for silence and solitude, one-on-one and small group prayer.

Long received her graduate Certificate in Conflict Resolution while earning a Master of Science degree at Abilene Christian University.

“I knew that knowledge in conflict resolution would serve me well in my present job as a Senior Development Officer at ACU.  I also knew that it would be valuable in my role on the Leadership Team of Come before Winter.”

A graduate of the Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation program, Hale applies much of what she has learned in her course work to help women at Come before Winter.

“Mediation and negotiation along with organizational behavior, culture and conflict, systems design, and advanced conflict management have given me a toolkit to think objectively about how organizations and humans interact. The focus of Come before Winter is on God and the women – renewing their spirit to be true to God, themselves, and the work they have chosen. During a renewal, success comes when any of us begin examining our conflicts and see new paths toward reconciliation.”

Although the goal of Come before Winter is not to directly resolve conflict, Long explains that she often uses her skills to encourage and coach women through burdens often caused by conflict.

 “At one renewal, a group of women brought major team conflicts with them.  At their request, I shared the process of mediation with them.  By the end of the week it was obvious that healing had taken place.”

Additionally, Long uses her knowledge of the mediation process to help resolve differences of opinion in Leadership Team planning meetings.  As a result, the team is able to develop a unified plan that effectively meets the goals of Come before Winter.

For more information about Come before Winter, visit

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