On July 22, 2012, a session dedicated to Women in Missions around the world was held in a pre-Assembly conference in Orlando, Florida. Led by Wanda LeRoy, wife of outgoing Director of World Missions Douglas LeRoy, there was a feeling of great anticipation as ladies from each area unveiled the integral, although often quiet, work being done by women across the globe. The overall tone was celebratory as stories of women in missions unfolded, yet there were solemn moments as stories were told of those being rescued by these brave women.
Debbie Thomas, wife of Field Director Peter Thomas, spoke about women’s ministry in Africa. The ministry focuses on elevating the lives of women through education and vocational training. This enables them to care for themselves and their children, and rise above the sad realities of poverty. While education and training remain key elements, Thomas shared, “The top priority in women’s ministry is to share the love of God with these women.”
Julie Martinez, missionary to Cambodia, spoke about her time and ministry in Asia. She has been in Cambodia for five years as an educator. Martinez talked about classes she teaches on health and hygiene, as many there have never been taught the importance of such things. Common Grounds coffee house is a creative ministry combining education and vocational training for the local people. Julie’s love and compassion for those she serves was evident as she spoke about the ongoing ministry in Cambodia, which also includes schools, a children’s home, and biblical training. She is an example of a woman in missions, leading other women, and teaching children.
Another area where women are serving in the ministry is in the Caribbean. Esmine Beason shared that one significant way women in the Caribbean serve is through church planting. Beason explained that as women saw the need for churches, they stepped up to meet the challenge by planting them. Esmine’s desire is to see more young, educated women in ministry leadership positions, both in the Caribbean and all over the world.
Brenda Hess, wife of Field Director Larry Hess, then spoke about the women of Europe and CIS and their role in cross-cultural ministry. In this area, there are many countries working together with one common goal: “To meet and reach the lost and disciple them. Everything the women do is for that purpose.” Comprised of six areas, a representative from each area spoke on various ministries women are supporting, including women from England helping young ladies leave the streets and overcome drug addiction. There are many cross-cultural ministries in Europe that give women an opportunity to build bridges between groups. Women in Belgium minister to widows. Brave women from the Middle East often must serve in secret due to danger. They help abused women by sharing the love of Christ.
Fernanda Ramirez reported from Latin America about a new initiative called, “Friends with a Dream.” With domestic violence ranking as the most serious problem in Latin America, there are many ministry opportunities. From helping young girls leave the streets to ministering to the abused, the women of Latin America are uniting to bring healing and hope. “The dream is for every woman to become all she was intended to become in every area, so the glory of God will show through them.” They plan to do this through prayer, establishing training centers, and protecting these women from further abuse. These women working for this cause are joining together from 17 Latin American countries.
Ending the session, Paola Dass spoke via a video message about women ministering to Unreached People Groups. Many women from Latin America, including Dass, have become missionaries to India, the Middle East, and other Asian countries where unreached people groups have been identified. These women are usually so close in appearance they can go into closed areas undetected and minister to those who have never heard the name of Jesus. Much like Dass, these women have a strong calling, and answer without fear, to go into areas where ministry is needed most and, sometimes, welcomed the least.
Stephanie Hanrahan, Media Team
© 2012 Church of God World Missions