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Women in Leadership

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A "New Generation of Ruths"...a call to PAOC women from David Wells

David Wells

Our guest blogger today is David R. Wells, General Superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.  David has always been a strong supporter of ministering women within our fellowship and today he shares with us how his theology surrounding the role of women was "fleshed out" through the example of his mother.

by David Wells

I’ve pondered numerous times why I have the convictions I do regarding the shared place I believe women have to fulfill their calling in ministry to God and others.

I know I have worked through at various times the theological, philosophical and cultural considerations to come to those convictions.

I could reiterate most of them in a conversation…at least on a good day. In fact if I had written this blog when first asked I’m sure that is what you would now be reading.

But something happened in the meantime. My Mom passed away.

We should have a clear theological and philosophical basis for our convictions. With that understood my observation is that it is in the crucible of relationships and experiences that those convictions get fleshed out.

In fact if they are not reinforced in real life they simply become items of mental assent that do not pragmatically influence our lives.

Ruth Wells

So when we consider the shared place women have to fulfill their ministry to God and others actual persons come to mind, none more than my mother, Ruth Wells.

My Mom was not necessarily concerned about having a platform on which to publicly proclaim her biblical insights nor was she going to serve at many decision making tables. That said she certainly would have expected that women so called would have the freedom to do so.

She strongly believed in the Spirit’s gifts being expressed through both God’s daughters and sons.

If the evangelist was a women named Eunice or the worship leader’s name was Ruby that was great. Thus Mom’s daughters and granddaughters are free to be whoever God wants them to be.

Mom herself was of a generation where women were expected to marry, have children and make sure they were raised with love and discipline. She did all those admirably. Yet in the mid-1960’s with five young children economic circumstances and her own strong sense of responsibility motivated her to work full time. Nevertheless that did not stop her from volunteering in ministry at our church and run an open house full of hospitality and nonstop food. All that while helping children and eventually grandchildren to do their homework and get to their school and music lessons and sporting events.

This life of sacrificial service was rooted in the deep relationships of a close knit Danish immigrant community.

Her mother passed away when she and her two sisters were all eight and under. Their family’s relatives and the community rallied around her father and the girls. On immigrant farms in the 1930’s and 40’s there wasn’t a lot of debates regarding roles and responsibilities especially when tragedy had come knocking and survival was at stake. Work got done by young and old, men and women. Family looked after family, neighbor looked after neighbor.

Those values of mutual respect, hard work, hospitality and love for God and others continued beyond the farm to a marriage, a family, a church and multiple relationships.

As one man who knew my Mom when he was a college student wrote, “Mom Wells will always be in our heart and our thoughts. I will never forget how this Angel took care of me when I was without a place to live. She fed me when I was hungry and gave me shelter. She truly was My Angel.”

No one had to tell my Mom she was free to minister as she was called. Who was going to tell her otherwise? Now anyone who knew her, understood there was steel under that velvet!

I pray for a whole new generation of Ruths.

Women whose calling by the Spirit is forged by a sense of love for God and others that causes them to tenaciously do what they are called to do whatever anyone else says… all with solid theology and a good philosophy of ministry of course!

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Young Women on the Rise - Sydney Teichroeb

There are some pretty amazing young women rising in our network and today we feature one of them: Sydney Teichroeb

Sydney is a young woman who pursues Jesus with her whole heart. She is from Abbotsford, British Columbia and is currently working on completing her degree at Summit Pacific College majoring in Counselling Foundations. 

Sydney is the director of a girl’s mentorship program called We Cultivate which is based out of Abbotsford. The program’s purpose is to provide enriching opportunities for girls to reach their full potential and exceed their self-perceived limits. One of the ways Sydney and her team do this is through group and individual mentoring. 

Sydney lives to empower those around her and bring glory to Jesus in everything.

Here is a quick little interview with Sydney...

Tell us a bit about yourself:

My name is Sydney Teichrob. I was born in Kelowna, but grew up in Abbotsford, British Columbia. I had a Christian upbringing, went to a Christian School and attended church my whole life. The biggest thing I was involved in was dance! I have a large passion for dance, but I never thought I would be working with teen girls one day. Surprisingly that was not my intention at all!

How did you start "We Cultivate?"

For me it was so much more then just wanting to work with girls and start a "girls group". It grew from my passion to wanting to work with people and see them grow as individuals through a mentorship perspective! I wish that I had time to do both boys and girls, but I felt at that time I only had resources and Time for one gender! That is why we cultivate is now a girls program and I'm so thankful for that.

Did you always want to work with young girls?

I did not always want to work with young girls! I had no idea that God would lead me to do that, and it is amazing how once we are obedient to God he uses us to our full potential.

What would you say to someone starting out a group like Cultivate?

I would say - grab a good team and go for it! We try many different things, styles, games, ways to do things and we are still learning. Even after we try things I am happy that we went through it all as a team.

How do you get past the rough parts?

I am thankful we are doing the work despite when challenges come, you will have golden moments that remind you why you are doing what you do and it makes it all worth it! Having great teammates also makes the difference, knowing that if a bump comes in the road you do not have to walk through it alone is the best feeling. I also know when we do not act like we are perfect we will not have the pressure of feeling down around the rough parts, because we are striving to be as real as possible. And real life is not perfect haha!

What motivates you the most?

What motivates me the most is the exciting possibilities that working with girls gives. Also the scary facts and percentages that girls have to grow up with encourages me to keep going. We do not live in a world yet that caters to a wholesome upbringing for girls. That is what keeps me going - the conversations with young girls I have, the encouragement they need and the mentorship they crave. I love what I do and I think others should do the same!

How can people help out?

They can check out our Facebook, we also run something called Rewarding Wardrobes to help fund our activities with the girls. How it works is I get clothes donated, I wash + organize them into different sizes or styles + I put them online. Then other girls get to buy nice clothes that other girls did not want, + we benefit from it financially. I would say this is a huge breakthrough for us, + I encourage people to keep helping youth out even with no budget. There are always ways around needing a big budget to be successful! So if you would love to donate clothes that would be amazing!

Our future is bright with young women like Sydney!

Check Sydney's team out online:

Facebook:

www.facebook.com/wcultivate

Instagram: @wecultivate

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This is How I Lead - Michele Yackel

This Is How I Lead is a series on the ZOE Blog.  We love learning from others... so we have asked some good questions of great female leaders across the globe.  This week's post is from a good friend of ZOE...Michele Yackel.  Michele has led in ministry for almost 20 years as a youth pastor, global worker, ministry school director and now as a church planter in B.C. 

Michele is passionate about serving others, connecting in community and seeing people challenged in their faith journey & stepping into all God has for them.

We hope it will inspire you in your own leadership!  If you have some question for Michele, post it in the comments section.

Michele and Anthony Yackel

 

Who are you?

My name is Michele Yackel, I’m 41 and love adventure. I’ve been married to my best friend Anth for 13 ½ years.

We have 2 fabulous kids. Our daughter is 10 and our son is 8.

I’m a wife, mommy, leader, friend, pastor, cross-cultural worker at heart and I’m always up for change and adventure!!

 

Where do you minister?

I’m currently a pastor/church planter – both my husband and I Co-Lead Pastor UrbanRoad here in Langley BC – we meet at Cineplex Langley in BC and have just celebrated our 5th year as a church community.

Check it out HERE.!!

 

What is your favourite part of your job?

A favourite part of my job is connecting with people, hearing their story and celebrating who they are and stretching people to think more strategically about where they’re headed in life and what they have to offer.

The best part is seeing true life transformation in people, especially families – BEST thing ever!!!

That and people grabbing a hold of the creativity and limitless imagination God places within each of us and then stepping out to actually DO something with that – BONUS!!

 

Who has been your greatest influence in your development as a leader?

My life is made up of fingerprints of those around me. I have always said those who cross my path leave a mark – some have been impressive indeed, while others have caused pain. At the end of the day my life’s journey is made up of those interactions and the imprint others have left. I cannot say I’ve been solely inspired by 1 specific person – but rather the collage of those along the way. Everyone from Mother Teresa, mentors, colleagues, leaders I’ve watched from a distance and those who’ve personally journeyed with me.

Each has influenced me to be the leader I am today and the leader I still aspire to become.

We were never created to walk alone and we cannot get there on our own!!

 

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned in ministry so far?

The biggest thing I’ve learned in ministry so far…..um, that’ll be in a book one day☺

Not sure how to narrow it down to be honest. I’d say “one of” the greatest things I’ve learned as a pastor is to not live my life to please others and the journey of life is ALWAYS worth the process.

We’re only ever called to live in obedience to what’s been put before us, to what God’s called us to – not what others think/feel we should be or do.

At the end of the day, it’s about the joy that comes from living in obedience, not convenience.

 

If you had one piece of advice to give to someone who wanted to do what you do, what would you tell them?

One piece of advice I’d give to someone who wants to be a church planter……be willing to risk and put it all on the line.

Ministry is never easy, no matter your area of influence, but being willing to take steps into the unknown and go for it takes a vulnerability and willingness to look failure in the face and be totally ok with it (let’s face it, it’s totally counter cultural!!).

It’ll be raw at times, exhilarating at others; and no matter what comes down the pipeline – always worth it in the end!!

DON’T GIVE UP!!!

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This is How I Lead - Kathy Bowler

This Is How I Lead is a series on the ZOE Blog.

We love learning from others...so we have asked some good questions of great female leaders across the globe.  We hope it will inspire you in your own leadership!  If you have some questions for these women, post it in the comments section.

This is How I Lead - Kathy Bowler

 

Who are you? 

I am Kathy Bowler, wife, mother of 2 children, physiotherapist and occupational therapist and director of Children of Blessing Trust.

 

Where do you minister?  

I live and work in Lilongwe, Malawi in Central Africa.

 

How long have you worked with vulnerable women?  

I primarily work with vulnerable children, especially those with disabilities.  I have been doing this since 1987, first in Canada, then Mexico, Botswana and now for the past 18 years in Lilongwe, Malawi.  As we work with the children here in Lilongwe, meeting their physical needs, we see many of their families are in distress.  Many of these families are single parent families, most headed by women.  We cannot work with the child in isolation but need to work together with the family in a holistic manner.  This has brought us to the place where we try and assist the families to be self sufficient, providing them with small businesses. We have been helping women on a very small scale for many years but have been scaling this up over the past year.

 

Using three words, how would you describe your leadership style?  

Passionate, Creative, Hardworking

 

How do you go about empowering women in your context? 

We want the moms of our children with disabilities to love their children the way they are and to see the potential God has given the child to grow and develop to become all that they can be.  We want the moms (and their families) to be able to thrive and not just survive.  First we model the love and acceptance of Christ to them and to their child with a disability.  We offer them hope for the child’s future.  We offer practical assistance in the form of therapy, education, special services and equipment.  We train the moms through our parent workshops giving them the skills they need to care for their child well.  We come alongside the families through the Child Care Plus Sponsorship providing whatever support the child needs including food packs if needed.  Then we identify those who are still very vulnerable and offer them small businesses.  We supervise and train them to run the business in an effective way, ensuring that there are funds available to continue the business.  We teach them to keep the money in the bank until they have enough to purchase the next set of goods only then taking the profits to spend on their families, thus ensuring sustainability of the business.

 

Who has been your greatest influence in your development as a leader?  (Dead or Alive) 

Jesus and the Holy Spirit!  I was called to the Mission Field connected to my love for children with disabilities.  It has guided and directed my path over the years.  I truly would not be where I am today if God had not placed his call on my life!

 

What specific ways have you worked to develop your skills?  

I have tried hard to be flexible and creative in the way that I interact with the families I work with.  I always look for the possibilities not the problems.  My husband has been a great resource to me as well as he is a Community Development Specialist.  His skill set is very different than mine so they compliment each other.

 

What is the greatest need you see in women around you?  

Hope for their future and for their children with disabilities.

 

If someone wanted to get involved, what could they do to help? 

We are looking for short or mid or even long term global workers to come alongside us to support the Administrative side of the work here.  We are looking for an Office Manager.  We also need professional help in terms of Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists and Special Education Teachers.

 

If you had one piece of advice for someone who wanted to do what you do, what would you tell them?  

If God is calling you to come answer the call you will not regret it!  He is faithful to provide all that you need – usually much more than you can even dream or imagine!

Thanks Kathy... you are truly inspiring!

Want to help Kathy and leaders like her around the globe?

Donate Here.

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5 Reasons Why Leaders Need Mentors

Happy "First Day of Fall" - (we are sorry...we are in denial too!)

We have had an exciting start to the Fall because ZOE Leadership was officially launched!  

Our first course, IDENTITY is already being used in small group settings across Canada.  (If you want to know more, email us HERE.)

Our aim with ZOE Leadership is to encourage women to be strategic with their lives.  We know that Canadian women want to "make a difference" at home and abroad, but don't always know how to do that.  ZOE Leadership is here to help!  

The ZOE blog will regularly feature leadership items that will be an encouragement to those growing in their influence. 

Today's post is from Elyse Brouwer.  She is a gifted young woman who serves as a Pastor on the staff of Westwinds Church in Surrey, B.C.

 

5 Reasons Why Leaders Need Mentors by Elyse Brouwer

I am convinced that for any woman in leadership (however it may look in their lives), having a mentor is essential for personal, professional, and spiritual development. Regardless of age, position, or life stage, everyone can benefit from the influence of a mentor- someone whose wisdom, encouragement, and advice they can trust and take to heart. Not sure? Here are 5 reasons why you (yes, you) need a mentor:

1) Mentors help you grow

Elyse Brouwer

Having a mentor can be a great catalyst for growth. Bill Hybels, in his book Courageous Leadership, wrote that, “All the effective leaders I have ever talked to can point back to someone who sacrificed time and energy to grow them up as leaders.” (pg. 125) Find someone who has skills or gifts you’d like to develop in yourself, or a seasoned leader that’s a few steps down the road from where you are. Ask them questions about their experiences and what they’ve learned through them. Ask for their input or perspective on challenges you’re facing in your spiritual life, your workplace, or in your personal life. You’ll get wiser as you listen to their experiences, increase in self-awareness as they give feedback, and grow in confidence as they pray and encourage you.

2) Mentors give you new perspectives

No two people think in exactly the same way, nor do they have the exact same experiences. When mentors give input, they often shine light on new angles or perspectives that we may have missed or overlooked when considering a challenge.

There’s a great passage in Exodus 18 regarding Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro. Moses sits down to judge the people, as he has always done. The people line up in front of him from morning to night. Jethro observes this, points out to Moses that this is not the most effective way to help the people resolve their conflicts, and advises him to share this responsibility with other leaders that could do the job with competence and integrity. This would be healthier for Moses, and allow other leaders to grow in their capabilities as well. 

Moses listens to his father-in-law, and everyone wins. Don’t overlook the value that different perspectives can bring to your leadership- Moses definitely didn’t!

3) Mentors enable you to face tougher challenges

The more time we spend with mentors getting feedback, advice, and new perspectives, the more equipped we are to make better decisions next time in the face of tougher challenges. Hearing about how your mentor has responded to a challenge or tough decision in the past may not give you an exact 5-step process for your challenging situation, but it can certainly give you guidelines and principles to follow that can be extremely helpful (not to mention, it can keep you from having to learn the hard way). 

4) Mentors can be your advocates

Not every mentoring relationship looks the same way, but in my own experience, my mentors have been my best advocates. A good mentor will champion you to others, provide opportunities for you to develop your skills in meaningful ways, and be a cheerleader for you as you take risks and step out of your comfort zone. Paul certainly did this for Timothy, his young protege. Paul provided opportunities for Timothy to travel with him (Acts 16:1-3), and continued to encourage and support Timothy as he ministered in various churches, specifically Ephesus (1 and 2 Timothy). Timothy was also given the opportunity to collaborate with Paul on various letters to different churches (cf. Rom. 16:21). 

5) Mentors help you mentor

In the book Gifted to Lead, by Nancy Beach, she writes, “I am still stunned by the thirst for mentoring I see in the next generation of leaders, both men and women… the kingdom will not advance unless we are willing to humbly turn around and lend a hand to raise up the leaders of tomorrow.” (pg. 168-169) Good leaders develop other leaders. If you are being mentored, you will be better equipped to be a mentor to other men/women/children under your influence. 

As you dive into a new school year and a new season, I would challenge you to take a look around you and ask yourself if there is anyone whose mentorship you could benefit from. Chances are, you will see plenty of people that you can learn from and be developed by. Ask them to join you for coffee and a chat about life, work, leadership, etc. You won’t regret it!

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This is How I Lead - Sharon Thomas

This Is How I Lead is a series on the ZOE Blog.  We love learning from others... so we have asked some good questions of great female leaders across the globe.  We hope it will inspire you in your own leadership!  If you have some questions for these women, post it in the comments section.

Sharon Thomas

This is How I Lead - Sharon Thomas

 

Who are you?

This is a good question… like most women I am different things to different people. To the folks living in my house I am mom. To those thatlive next door I am the Canadian lady who does things a little differently. To my family I am the one who lives in another country and misses most family get togethers. To most people I am the missionary they get newsletters from each month. Really I am just one lady who is crazy in love with Christ and wants to see others have their life changed forever like mine was. This is my life… this is my passion.

 

Where do you minister?

I serve in the Dominican Republic - I know what you are thinking - nice! Well it is not really a trip to the resort. It is awesome if you like 35 degrees in the shade and 95% humidity, no AC in my house,  and plastic seats in your pickup truck - which by the way does not have AC either. If you like no hot water, power going off at random times for days at a time and centipedes in your bathroom - yeah it is a nice gig.

 

How long have you worked with vulnerable women?

I started working with the most incredible women on the planet about seven years ago - after being in ministry for 18 years and successfully avoiding women's ministry.

 

Using three words, how would you describe your leadership style?

Equip, empower, encourage

 

How do you go about empowering women in your context?

I minister to women pastors and wives of pastors. Many have no training and little resources serving in remote areas. I invite these leaders from 19 different denominations together and build relationship with them and with each other. We together work together to help them reach their communities for Christ, help develop their ministries to women.

 

Who has been your greatest influence in your development as a leader?  (Dead or Alive)

There are many people who have impacted my life and helped to develop me as a leader. Some through positive examples and have been a model for me, others through encouragement and others who have shown me the kind of leader I never want to be. All have been valuable and have helped shape the person I am today.

 

What specific ways have you worked to develop your skills?

I study not only other leaders but I seek them out and ask lots of questions. I copy what they do and then add my ideas for this context. I don't look just at what they do but how they do it. I read lots of books too.

 

What is the greatest need you see in women around you?

Many of the women I work with need resources, teaching, support and encouragement. These women are exactly where God wants them - they can reach their community 100% better than I ever could. But they are lacking the resources, encouragement and someone investing in their lives.

 

If someone wanted to get involved, what could they do to help?

There are many ways to be involved from bringing a team, providing funds for teaching, training and conferences. Helping to build a church building for a pastora changes their whole ministry.

 

If you had one piece of advice for someone who wanted to do what you do, what would you tell them?

Pray. Ask God to show you creative ideas to impact those in your world. EVERYONE has a place in missions, some give, some pray, some go for a short time, some go for a long time, some a great at raising funds, gathering resources and some are amazing encouragers of others to be involved. Find your place and DO IT.

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Launching ZOE Leadership - Woot! Woot!

The day is finally here...

After countless hours of writing, testing, re-writing and testing again (all fueled with copious amounts of coffee of course)...we are launching a dream!

A few years ago, while pastoring at Living Waters Church in Fort Langley, BC, God began to open my (Leanne's) eyes to the need to encourage and develop female leaders in Canada. Working with my friend Julie, we experimented with how best to do this in our local context and we began to see amazing things.  Women were hungry to learn and grow, but often felt "stuck."

Fast forward a few years to the launch of ZOE Projects.  We organized ourselves to:

"Network Canadians to respond to the needs of vulnerable women around the world, working in four key areas: Health, Education, Human/Sex Trafficking and Economic Empowerment…all with a heart for Spiritual Transformation."

Our chosen tagline was "Helping women Thrive."  We knew fairly early on that we wanted to help women thrive in Canada as well.

Why?  Well we believe passionately that every woman has been given a unique "deposit" of gifts that God wants to use for His purposes!  God is as it work in our world and we are invited to participate with Him.  

So we began to develop ZOE Leadership, to help women see their gifts and then encourage them tostrategically develop them further.   Often women fail to acknowledge their gifts because they “just don’t see it.”  We help them see it! 

The dream grew...the team grew!  

We worked closely with PAOC - Eastern Ontario District Women's Network, testing material and doing a couple of conferences.  We tested the material in BC and Alberta.  Free to Lead Conferences in Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Langley soon followed and we knew we had a message that needed to be shared.

So here we are.  Sharing what we have.

Our first course is called “IDENTITY: Discovering your Potential.” 

In this course, we learn that God wants to use us!  And He uses US…we don’t have to be anybody else because leadership looks different on everyone.  How freeing is that?  We just need to acknowledge our gifts andtake responsibility to learn and develop what God has deposited in us.  God is looking for women who are open to saying YES to Him! 

This five week course uses teaching videos and selected resources so that small groups of women can easily facilitate a ZOE Leadership group in their community. 

Interested in finding our more?  Email us here.

We are thinking that this is just the beginning!

Leanne McAlister

Canadian Liaison for ZOE Projects

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This is How I Lead - Linda Veldhuizen

This Is How I Lead is a series on the ZOE Blog.  We love learning from others...so we have asked some good questions of great female leaders across the globe.  We hope it will inspire you in your own leadership!  If you have some questions for these women, post it in the comments section. 

This week we feature Linda Vedhuizen.  We recently visited with Linda while we were in Asia.  Linda is the Director of Noah's Ark Ministries, located in Banaue, Ifugao, Philippines. She has been in the Philippines for the past 25 years and founded Noah's Ark Ministries, which runs a temporary Home for Children for orphaned, abandoned, malnourished, special needs and educationally disadvantaged children. Through this ministry the children are given a chance for a brighter future and have an opportunity to come into a relationship with God. Noah's Ark Ministries also provides educational scholarships to students, many of them young women. 

Linda is a hero to us! 

Who are you?  

I am Linda Veldhuizen working as a Global Worker for the PAOC.

 

Where do you minister?

I minister in a remote town nestled in the mountains of the northern Philippines.

 

How long have you worked with vulnerable women?

I have been working with vulnerable women in particular young people for the past 25 years.

 

Using three words, how would you describe your leadership style?

Passionate, Servant, Example

 

How do you go about empowering women in your context?

I am empowering women by providing a high school and college education for children who live in Noah’s Ark Home for Children.  These youth are from broken and very poor families.  Without our help they would not be able to complete even their high school education.  I believe education empowers women to be able to get a better job and to provide for their future families and end the cycle of poverty.

I am also empowering our staff in Noah’s Ark home by giving them a job and encouraging them through the personal difficulties they are facing.

 

Who has been your greatest influence in your development as a leader?  (Dead or Alive)

One of the greatest influence in developing my personal leadership is Rev. Gaye Norrie who has been a great influence in my life since I was 18 years old.

 

What specific ways have you worked to develop your skills?

I read books but mostly I develop my skills working through everyday situations that arise.  I have learned by making mistakes and developing what works in this culture.

 

What is the greatest need you see in women around you?

Most of the women I know here have a great desire to work hard and to provide for their families.  The problem they are facing is that there are no jobs and they do not have the capital to start their own business etc.  They seem stuck in the circle of poverty.

 

If someone wanted to get involved, what could they do to help?

They could help by maybe sponsoring a woman here to start a business.

If you are interested in helping Linda through ZOE Projects...donate here.

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3 More Ways to Empower Women Around You...a guy weighs in!

Last week's post focussed on practical ways to empower women.  We continue that important theme, but this time hear from a young male leader.  James Bak is a student at Summit Pacific College, preparing for vocational ministry and he is a vocal champion of women!  

Issues surrounding women's vulnerability is not a "women's issue", rather it is a "community issue" that will be addressed by women and men together speaking to the worth and dignity of "the daughters."

With young men like James we get excited about the future! 

James Bak

by James Bak   

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of strength? Maybe it's a fighter, an athlete, a Greek demigod named Hercules, a superhero, a mighty lion, or a ______ (You fill in the blank), whatever it is I am sure that it is powerful. Merriam Webster defines strength as, "The quality or state of being physically strong," which is what most people typically associate strength with. Webster also defines strength as, "The quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way". Personally, I like the latter definition of strength, allow me to share why.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of strength is my 5'4" mother. As an impoverished single parent, she raised two incredibly challenging and rebellious children. She taught me what it meant to selflessly love others and how to see hope in every situation. I don’t know how my mother did it but she always gave us security and direction in life. When I consider the tremendous strength of my mother’s willingness to lay down her life for her children I find myself quoting NBA’s 2014 MVP Kevin Durant who said, “You’re the real MVP mom!”

However, my mom is just one example of the many women who have greatly impacted my life.  For most of my life I lived in a household where the women outnumbered the men three to one. Under these circumstances I came to incredibly value the voice of the women in this world, especially the voice of my incredibly beautiful fiancé, Jennie. Jennie is an awe inspiring woman who will stop at nothing to pursue the call that God has put on her life. The tenacity of Jennie and many other passionate women like her are why I am confident that this world NEEDS to have EMPOWERED women in leadership. As a young adults pastor I often meet incredible young women who have the capacity to change the world but are hesitant to act due to a lack of confidence in their calling. This just breaks my heart and moves me to share with you what I have found to be an effective means of empowering the women in your life.

1. PRESENCE - IM WITH YOU

In one of my favourite movies, Finding Forester, Sean Connery aka Forester tells his lovestruck young apprentice this, “The way to a woman’s heart is an unexpected gift at an unexpected time.”

What I love about this is that Forester knew that many women appreciate the moments in life that remind them that others are thinking about them simply because they care. The truth is that presents are nice but the true value is the presence of the heart behind the gift. God’s gift to us was Christ whose presence absolutely turned this world upside down. Before exiting the scene, Christ also promised two presents of his presence. First, a promise that God would never leave nor forsake His people. Second, a promise of a guide and comforter that would come after His ascent and empower His people. Sounds to me like Christ was dead set on remaining present with us.

What I love about my job is that I get to follow in Christ’s footsteps and be a presence in the lives of so many amazing men and women. I don’t have much to offer in terms of material gifts but I can always offer my presence and you know what, often that’s all that they want. I can’t count the number of times that Jennie has come to me after a hard day and not wanted anything but my presence. There is so much that is said when we simply remind the women in our life that, “I’m with you!” That’s it, “I’m with you,” I am with you in the good times, the bad times, the tough times, and the great times, no matter what I am with you. This screams Christ to me, He was with us before we were even aware of ourselves and He remains with us because he was the first to say, “I’m with you!” It seems almost to easy to be true but there is something so powerful in giving presence.

2. CHAMPION THEIR POTENTIAL

Have you ever met an art consultant who packs one heck of a right hook and the medical degree to fix any injuries that her right hook may cause? I have! Her name is Laura and she is one of the most impressive women I have ever met. Laura balances three jobs while maintaining a social life and staying active. Just last year Laura told me that she had started training multiple times a week to become a boxer. To this day I have never seen a young woman so excited to get punched in the face. Still as her first fight approached, Laura’s excitement grew and so did the encouragement. Laura’s friends and I could see that she was passionate, not about violence but about her potential to be the best and it was charming. Round after round Laura returned to her corner and there she was met by her coaches and mentors who never lost sight of her potential, it was incredible. Although Laura lost her first fight everyone in her corner still saw her as a champion, including Christ.

Christ taught us valuable lessons about confrontation but he also understood that there are some things in life that we will have to fight for. Not everyone is cut out to be a boxer but every woman has dreams and passions that they may have to one day fight for. How do we empower women to “put on their gloves” and “enter the ring”? I believe it it begins with standing in their corner and championing their potential regardless of the outcome. How incredible would it be if we saw women take their “losses” in stride as their coaches and mentors remained in their corner tending to their needs and calling out their potential? Personally I think that we would see many more women return to the ring with confidence that God still had a purpose for their passions.

3. CELEBRATE THEIR VICTORIES

Jennie and I are constantly blessed by this principle. We are getting married in two months and have a daunting checklist of things to get done before the big day. Each time that we check something off the list I make it a point to celebrate the victory with her. 

It seems small, and it can be, but it is also important to our relationship. The more that I celebrate the little victories in her life the easier it is to celebrate the big victories. Maybe this is small to you but to us, two naturally driven/competitive people, it doesn’t always come easily. You see we are in the same field of study and both aspiring to do well in our calling which can put some tension between us when it comes to awards, potential opportunities, etc. However, I realize that we are on the same side, we are in each others corners, and we can be united in victory. 

Whether it’s a loved one, a friend, or a family member it’s so important that you celebrate the victories of the women in your life, big or small. Your support can remind them that you truly are with them no matter what and that you do believe in their potential. By celebrating the victories of the women in my life I’ve become more than simply their friend, I have become their fan! I think it’s about time that the women of this world pick up a few more fans, don’t you? So if you’ve read this far and you are still wondering how to empower women just remember your presence is the best present, every champion needs someone in their corner, and when things are all said and done don’t forget to celebrate their victories.

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3 Ways to Empower Women Around You

Today's guest post is from a great friend of ZOE...Elyse Brouwer.  (You may recognize her from the ZOE video!)  Elyse lives in Surrey, BC with her husband Christian.  She is a young leader with amazing gifts that she uses in her pastoral role at Westwinds Church.  She is a bit of a "leadership nerd" and loves to chat about how best we can empower women in Canada and abroad.  (This is always done over copious amounts of coffee!) I think we will see/hear more from Elyse in the years to come...

Elyse Brouwer

by Elyse Brouwer

What does it mean to empower someone?

As a young woman in ministry in Canada, I find myself thinking about this a lot. I often wonder whether I am doing enough to enable those that I minister to to succeed, and I constantly evaluate my own life, and whether or not I feel empowered to do what I feel God has called me to. I can pinpoint moments in which I’ve definitely felt empowered and confident; I can also pinpoint others in which I’ve felt alone, inadequate, and out of my depth.

I believe that there are some incredibly simple and basic keys to empower women to live full lives in Christ and to do what God is calling them to. They may look different in practice in different contexts, but I would challenge you (and myself) to consider how these 3 keys could play out in your context:

Open Up Opportunities

When I was 16, the Christian outreach at my school needed a student to take leadership of the group in order to continue. I hesitated, but my friend and I decided to give it a shot.

Through this opportunity to lead, I discovered my passion for ministry.  I learned a lot about myself, about the Bible and about leadership.  Not every week was a success, but it was a great opportunity to try, grow and make mistakes in a a safe place. 

One of the biggest keys to empowering women is to open up opportunities for them to use their gifts. This is essential; women need to be provided with opportunities in which it is safe to try, make mistakes, learn, and try again. The best way to learn is to do! What opportunities can you open up to women around you?

Provide Tools

Near the end of the book of John, when the resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples and tellsthem “…as the Father sent me, even so I am sending you…Receive the Holy Spirit.”

In these few words, he sends them out on a challenging and daunting task, but he does not leave them unprepared; He equips them with what (rather, Who) they need - the Holy Spirit.

Empowering women entails more than providing opportunities to them; it includes equipping them with what they need to tackle what’s in front of them. Whether this be through education, financial support, or even something as simple as providing menstrual pads so that a young woman can keep going to school, empowerment goes beyond simply providing opportunities and extends to providing women with what they need to succeed. What tools can you provide to the women around you?

Be in Community

I love a good staff meeting. Call me a nerd, but I just love giving and receiving feedback, reflecting on how we felt as we tried something new, dreaming about what we can do in the future, and praying together. 

I believe that there’s something empowering about having a community around us. That community can look as different as the people in them - it be a trusted peer, a mentor, or a small group. The impact of having the support of women (and men) that dream with you, challenge you, give you insightful feedback, encourage you, and pray with you, is huge. When we give women opportunities and provide them with the tools they need, we also need to provide them with a safe and supportive community. Whether we’re in Canada, Malawi, Thailand, etc., we will always be “better together”. Are you part of a community that lovingly challenges, encourages, and prays for its members?

I hope that these keys help you as you empower the women around you!

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