Sometimes when we begin a ministry, that ministry evolves in ways we never expected. When I became the Lausanne Senior Associate for Women in World Evangelization (a mouthful whenever I am introduced!), my aim was to build up a network of Christian women around the world and encourage them in their ministries. I was willing to speak at conferences, preach in churches, speak at evangelistic meetings, lead Bible studies, take seminars on Christian leadership and generally encourage Christian women to share the gospel with both those around them and in the wider world. I started this women’s network after (Manila, 1989) and since then have been encouraged as I have traveled to over fifty countries and met many wonderfully gifted women who are using their gifts and opportunities in world evangelization.
Two of my aims include: (1) identifying, encouraging, challenging, training and mobilizing women for the task of evangelism and (2) putting women from one part of the world in touch with like-minded women in other countries. This has resulted in women being invited to minister in another part of the world and thus gifts and enthusiasm for the gospel have been shared.
One aspect of my ministry I had not initially considered has been the mentoring of young Christian women leaders. As I have traveled I have met many outstanding young women who are passionate about sharing the gospel and who are seeking ways to use the special gifts God has given them. Some of these young women have opportunities in their own country and in their own church to share the gospel; others are limited in the expression of their gifts. I have been able to both encourage them to use whatever opportunities they already haveÌ¢âÂÛno matter how limitedÌ¢âÂÛand to network them with young women in other countries. This has meant organizing regional conferences so that young Christian women leaders can meet each other, be encouraged themselves and encourage each other.
One such conference was in Berlin in 2000 when young women from different countries met for a conference with older women mentors who had many years of ministry experience. This was a most stimulating time and as a result, most of the women have kept in touch with me and with each other. In some cases they have invited each other to come to their country and minister there. A consequence of this is that women have felt more empowered, encouraged, challenged and motivated to seek in a fresh way God’s leading for their future.
Mentoring is a privilege for those who can come alongside another person, usually someone younger, and have intentional input into their lives. Christian mentoring is an awesome responsibility. It is also one of the great joys of ministry to see someone else develop his or her gifts and move toward using those gifts for the kingdom of God.
The word Ì¢âÂÒmentorÌ¢âÂå comes from the story of Ulysses who, as he set off for the Trojan wars, appointed someone to care for his son, Telemachaus. This person was to educate and guide the boy, listen to his dreams, give wise counsel and stand alongside him as he grew to manhood. The man’s name was Ì¢âÂÒMentor.Ì¢âÂå
Mentors are often, though not always, older people who are happy to give time to another by providing support, friendship, wisdom and advice. A mentor makes his or her personal strengths, experience and knowledge available to another to help that person reach his or her potential. Let me tell you about some of the young women who are part of the Lausanne Young Women Leaders Mentoring Network.
Evangeline started a school under a tree in the slums of Hyderabad, India. Today she is principal of the school (which now numbers 560 students). Evangeline has also started a ministry for women and children in a nearby village for those who have leprosy and has recently started a church there. I had the privilege of speaking to hundreds of children during one Vacation Bible School (VBS). Evangeline organizes a VBS each year for the Hindu, Muslim and Christian children from her school and from the surrounding neighborhood.
Elke has a vibrant Bible teaching ministry in Germany and is a preacher and convention speaker in many parts of Europe. She is also an author and is currently the Lausanne International Deputy Director for Western Europe. Elke and I have ministered together in many different parts of the world.
Christel, a German Christian and a young mother, is a speaker and editor of a German women’s magazine. I have twice spoken at women’s conferences which she has organized in north Germany.
Eva is from Croatia. She is an excellent speaker and Bible teacher. She and her husband are ministering in a church they have recently built. My husband and I were privileged to be at the baptism of a group of people who had recently come to faith through her ministry. Many of these individuals had drug-related backgrounds.
Hilda is from Tanzania and has recently been ordained. Her thesis was on the role of women in the Church of Tanzania. She is currently lecturing at the Bishop Madinda Christian Formation Centre. I first met Hilda when she was working in women’s ministry in Dodoma and invited her to the conference in Berlin. After the conference she decided to go to theological college to prepare for the ordained ministry.
Olga is from Russia and has just finished her doctorate. She is dean of students at a theological seminary in Moscow. She is also a speaker, Bible teacher, author and has recently spoken on the importance of theological education for women ministers at an international women’s forum. I look forward to ministering with Olga in Moscow later this year.
I met Irina in Moldova where I was ministering at a women’s conference. Irina was a young Christian woman with great leadership potential. I invited her to the mentoring conference in Berlin; as a result of that time she decided to go to Prague to get a master’s degree in theology. She is now back in Moldova teaching at the College of Theology and Education in the capital, Kishinev.
There are so many more: Xiaoli, who is preparing to minister in China; Charlotte, who is preparing for ministry in Sweden and has an outstanding music ministry in Europe; Christina, who is about to go to Africa for ministry with her husband; and Jolly, who is in Kolkata involved with a ministry called Word Made Flesh which works in the red light district of the city.
These and hundreds of other outstanding young Christian women are the future leaders of the Church worldwide and each one of them is committed to using the gifts and opportunities the Lord has given them to share the good news of the Lord Jesus with others and to equip leaders younger than themselves to do likewise. And so the mentoring goes on as older leaders stand alongside those preparing to take the reins in ministry. May God bless, sustain and guide them.