Michele Bachmann
Michele Bachmann (Facebook)

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What can women do to engage a distracted, digital culture with a message of hope? Better yet, how can they overcome the obstacles, bondage and chains that are holding them back?

The theme of the Ascend Conference 2014 is "Forever Free." Organizers say this is why U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) will be the keynote speaker. She exemplifies the pursuit of freedom in her work as a congresswoman and former presidential candidate as well as her personal life, having raised five children of her own and 23 foster children. In 2006, Bachmann became the first Republican woman elected to represent Minnesota in the U.S. House of Representatives and in 2011 was listed in TIME magazine's "100 Most Influential People" and Forbes Magazine's "World's 100 Most Powerful Women." Prior to serving in Congress, Bachmann served in the Minnesota State Senate from 2003 to 2007 and worked on hundreds of civil and criminal cases as a federal tax-litigation attorney.

Speaking along with Bachmann, who announced last year that she will not seek re-election this fall, will be Isik Abla, an ex-Muslim, ordained minister and international ministry speaker who was raised­ in a Muslim home in Turkey. She was physically abused and escaped from that environment into an even more abusive situation with a Muslim extremist husband. At 25, she fled for her life to America, and after years of struggling and failing in many areas, Isik entered into intense depression. She had a personal encounter with God on the day she was planning her suicide. After several years in a business career, Isik obeyed God's call to full time ministry, and today she hosts an international television program that's distributed in five languages.

Returning speakers will be Brenda Epperson-Moore, motivational speaker and TV actress best-known for her role as Ashley Abbott in the soap opera The Young and Restless, and Kathleen Cooke, actress, blogger, speaker and co-founder of Cooke Pictures in Los Angeles.

There will also be a featured panel of Hollywood actresses and professionals, including Edwina Findley-Dickerson, known for her work on the HBO series Treme and The Wire, and starring in the upcoming feature film Get Hard with Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart; LynnMarie Rink, five-time Grammy-nominated Squeezebox artist and actress in the Off-Broadway production of her own life story, Wrap Your Heart Around It; Susan Isaacs, actress, comedian, alumni member of the Groundlings Theater and best-selling author of the book Angry Conversations with God; and Grammy-nominated Latin musical artist Priscilla Chessher.

Musical guests include Linda McCrary-Fisher, singer and worship leader—who has toured with artists such as Andre Crouch, Tommy Walker, and Billy and Franklin Graham—and Christy Ebenhoch, singer/songwriter, recording artist and worship leader. Also joining the stage will be artist Robyn Hanley, whose paintings are sought after by collectors and displayed in the White House and Pentagon Chapel.

This year, the focus of the conference is: "Forever FREE, What's the Battle You're Ready to Win?" The event will be held at Ambassador Auditorium, 131 S. St John Ave., Pasadena, California. For more information and to register, visit www.ascendconference.org

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