Women Who Can Change the World

These women can change the world!” The East German tour guide in the Wartburg, the castle where Dr. Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, was impressed with the international group of women who had come together 9-16 June 2007. “I have never ever seen a group like this,” she commented. “I can feel the energy in this group. These women have so much power! What is different about you?” The words of a non-Christian woman from the former GDR expressed what all of us also felt: God was present in our midst.

What Kind of Group Was It?
During the sixteen years Robyn Claydon, vice chair of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, travelled around the world to build the women’s network of Lausanne, she had met most of us in our home countries. She soon became our mentor, encourager, promoter and friend. She helped most of us see the potential God had given us, potential which we ourselves could not yet see. In 2000, she invited most of us for our first Lausanne Women’s Network meeting in Berlin, Germany. We got to know each other and kept in touch. Some of us met again at the 2004 Forum for World Evangelization in Thailand and at the 2006 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering in Malaysia. Claydon has kept in touch and has seen us grow in our ministries and personally.

Now that I have been given the position as Lausanne Senior Associate for Women, Claydon and I decided to invite the same group of women to meet up in Germany. A few new contacts were added, as was a small team of German supporters of the Women’s International Network in God’s Service. It was a wonderful reunion and the new members of the group soon felt right at home.

The Program
Each morning started with a short Bible study led by Claydon (Australia), Noor van Haaften (Netherlands), Juliet Thomas (India), Kathy Oppenhuizen (USA), Gerda Schaller (Germany), Olga Zaprometova (Russia) or myself (Germany). Most of the day was spent listening and sharing about our families, ministries and plans for the future. After each report, we prayed. Although we serve in very different fields, we all share the same passion for reaching this world with the gospel, be it by working as a Bible-school teacher, building schools in slums, planting churches among lepers, helping refugees in Sudan, pastoring a church, building a network of women or leading an international prayer network.

During our week together we also went on a tour to the Wartburg, Eisenach. At a bus stop on the former East-West border in Germany we prayed together. We saw the room where Martin Luther translated the Bible into German. We also went to ERF, the German center of Trans World Radio, to be interviewed; these interviews will be on air later this year.

In addition, we visited Christus-Treff church in Marburg, where we contributed to the service. We were introduced to the congregation and sang an African song together. Some of us were also interviewed. The women interviewed included:

  • Jolly, an Indian lawyer who rescues young women from Indian brothels. She works with the Indian police and takes care of the young women after they are liberated.
  • Leslie, who works with her husband in India.
  • Cecilia, who taught us the Sudanese Christian song.
  • Evangeline, who at the age of twenty-three used the first money she had earned to buy a plot of land in India and started a school for children in the slums. Today, she leads a large school with about six hundred students. She has founded four churches and is about to start a school and a church for lepers.

On the last evening, we prayed for each other again. We also thanked Claydon and celebrated her many years of faithful service. Althought she officially handed the work over to me, she will continue her ministry and mentor me in my new role. I am thankful and blessed to work with her. I am also thankful these women will continue to stay in contact and support each other and the Women’s Network of Lausanne.

During our days together, we looked at the Lausanne Covenant with the anticipation of the 2010 Lausanne III in Cape Town, South Africa. We want to contribute to and be involved in the Lausanne movement. And we want to encourage women, especially younger ones who have not yet seen their potential. Hopefully we can meet again in two years and share what God has done. I am sure there will be many miracles and stories.

Elke Werner is the senior associate for women in evangelism for the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. She also is founder and director of WINGS (Women's International Network in God's Service) in Marburg, Germany. Werner is the co-leader of a vital interdenominational church fellowship (Christus-Treff). She resides with her husband, Dr. Roland Werner, in Marburg.