Women in God’s Mission

“Women have advanced God’s mission throughout history and around the world. But women often face particular obstacles in ministry. What do we need to know about how women thrive?” So begins the InterVarsity Press web introduction to a new book by Dr. Mary Lederleitner, Women in God’s Mission: Accepting the Invitation to Serve and Lead.

This fascinating book tells stories of respected women leaders from around the world. It is an honest look at the styles, passions, and challenges faced by women in leadership. Over 90 women in approximately 30 nations were interviewed for this project. While their identities have been protected, the stories are universal. Lederleitner explores how the leadership of women is different, how women connect, and how they persevere.

Women in God’s Mission tells of women who have experienced a call from God, often a very unexpected call to leadership. There is much in the way of practical leadership wisdom that the women of this book share and that I appreciated deeply. Many of the women interviewed lead ministries that are often to “the least of these.” Ministries to people who are homeless, poor, trafficking victims, in need of health care, education, and much more have been led by women to the glory of God. This is cause for celebration.

Of particular note to me was the gracious way many women leaders have chosen to respond to gender bias. Lederleitner says. “In my research I have been astounded by this: when women encountering difficult gender hurdles choose forgiveness over bitterness, God finds ways around the hurdles and often gives them more influence than if the original door they had sought had been open to them.”

Women in God’s Mission was a Christmas gift and has prompted me to reflect on nearly 30 years of denominational service. While I have been blessed with good relationships in my leadership roles, the book is a reminder that there are still challenging issues at times. As I have wrestled with a response to the book and the issue of gender bias, it seems to me that the roadblocks women have encountered are actually tools God has used to direct us to meet needs that otherwise would be overlooked. The body of Christ must have every member functioning well to accomplish all that He wants to do. This includes women in leadership and missions.

I am grateful to Woman’s Missionary Union for encouraging and training women, including me. I am grateful for the lessons learned and the affirmation that I received to follow God’s calling on my life. I am grateful that WMU helps women reach out and meet needs around the world. There are many who will never hear the gospel unless a woman bears the message. There are children who will never be taught what it means to be part of the mission of God unless women teach them. There are missionaries who will miss out on prayer and financial support unless women step up. Even in the ministry of Jesus, the financial support of women was noted. (See Luke 8:1-3.)

Women in God’s Mission is a worthwhile read for both men and women. Readers may not agree with all of the roles and examples of women in leadership cited, but regardless, will be challenged to think about important issues. May this book open doors for dialogue that we might more faithfully serve Christ’s mission, bringing many sons and daughters to faith around the world.

Women in God’s Mission
Published by InterVarsity Press, 2018

A New Adventure

Last October a chapter in my life closed and a new adventure began. What a great party for my retirement. It was a celebration not only of my time with Kentucky WMU, but also of finishing well and welcoming Liz Encinia as the new leader. I am excited about her leadership and all that I see about Kentucky WMU work.

My adventure began with setting up our house in Summerville, SC. We bought a home about a 30 minute or so drive from our son, daughter-in-law, and grandson. Our intent was to be available to help as needed. We have enjoyed every minute!

The biggest tasks for setting up our house are complete. Like any homeowner, I have a running list of things that I would like to do as time and funds permit, but for the most part, we are settled. We joined Summerville Baptist Church and have gotten involved quickly. I am helping with Girls in Action and English as a Second Language. I also sing in both the senior adult choir and the church choir.

National WMU has asked me to serve as a volunteer consultant and given me the title WMU Churchwide and Associational Lead Strategist. I now have an email address at WMU and have been doing some writing. Look for articles in the 2019-20 Missions Leader Planning Guide which will be released soon.

I had cataract surgery in January and now can do life without glasses. I am seeing the best that I have in years! We’ve made the rounds of getting set up with new doctors and finding our way in a new place. There are lots of interesting places to explore and when company comes, we are enjoying taking them to places that are new to us, too.

My friend Dick Bodenhamer did a blog for the WMU Foundation (A Time to Invest: Q & A On Retirement) and mused that when you are retired, you have a target on your back. Everyone is looking for your help now that you have more time. All who know me well, know that I would find plenty to do. I have prayed often that I did not want to get ahead of God in finding my place, but also did not want to lag behind. This is still my prayer.

Kentucky WMU is allowing me to keep this blog and I have decided to keep writing when there are reflections to share. More to come on this new adventure!