A lady and her shoes

The methods and ministries of missionary ladies

by James G. Smith

We have all heard and probably used the expression “wearing different hats” regarding our various responsibilities as parents, children, spouses, employees, and people in ministry. But since we are featuring ladies in missionary ministry in the BBFI this month, we thought shoes were a more appropriate metaphor than hats.

A girl can never have too many shoes … or so that’s what I’m told. I’m not sure men will ever understand this apparent obsession — the quantity and variety of shoes that must be in their possession. For most guys about three pairs will do.

At one women’s shoe supplier on the Internet, we found these categories: sandals, heels, sneakers, athletic shoes, flats, clogs, loafers, slippers, oxfords, boat shoes, wedges, platform heels, bridal shoes, running shoes, diabetic-approved, orthotic-friendly, eco-friendly, and vegan shoes. If we add boots, we have rain boots, riding boots, rubber boots, work boots, cowboy boots, snow boots, total terrain, mid-calf, thigh-high, knee-high, narrow, and extra-wide. This one supplier listed 33,150 different shoes and 4,043 boots for women!

Then we interviewed the missionary ladies in the BBFI … not about shoes, but about ministries! We found an amazing variety of ministries being performed all around the world.

The single missionary ladies and the missionary wives of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International have amazing talents, abilities, and opportunities to exercise their spiritual gifts in serving the Lord cross-culturally. They wear many different kinds of shoes!

While this subject would be much broader in other publications, we will skip the discussion over the election of women as deaconesses or the ordination of women as pastors. Our constituency and readership would be pretty much agreed on that topic. We are hoping, however, that there will be great interest in the lives and ministries of the women in ministry who make up an integral part of the BBFI’s global partners.

It is our opinion, and thus our premise, that traditionally BBFI missionary women have accepted their roles in the family and in ministry as significant and fulfilling.

We asked several questions and were very pleased at the response to our questions. We are very grateful to the 40 ladies from 23 different countries who collaborated with us to present this issue. All of them contributed. Most of them are quoted directly. As always, we hope that our readers will be encouraged to continue to participate with our global partners in getting the gospel around the world.

You will find there are obvious differences in the priorities and perspectives of the single women and the missionary wives. However, the need for personal and ministerial encouragement to all these ladies is incumbent on all of us who form their support base.

We will make room for a few of them to elaborate, but take a moment and look carefully at the brief answers at the top of this page to the question, “In what kind of ministries are you involved?”

One of our ladies who transitioned from missionary kid to TEAM missionary and has now transitioned to career missionary is Megan Beard. We asked her about her ministry opportunities so far.

“Right now my husband and I do not have children, so while my first priority is supporting my husband in ministry and creating a comfortable and healthy home environment, I spend much of my time on responsibilities outside our household.

Since we are on deputation, we spend a lot of time communicating with churches and pastors. While my husband makes initial contact, I handle our follow-up communication, including our website, sending information to churches and pastors, revising and sending out our prayer updates, and sending thank-you notes after we have visited churches. I also manage our finances and file our quarterly reports.

Our primary ministry role in Korea is to mobilize, train, and equip God’s servants, and God has opened the door for both of us to further our education so that He can use us in an educational and administrative capacity. Right now I am a full-time student and I try to balance this with our deputation travels.

While on the field, I spend a significant amount of time caring for and serving students in our institute (preparing meals during the school week and overseeing student housing), administrating in the school setting, investing in one-on-one discipleship with students, and teaching a few courses.

Outside of the school ministry context, we enjoyed using our home to host Bible studies and small groups, and about once weekly we would invite a family or group of individuals to share a meal and an evening in our home.”

We also received the following response from Miss Georgia Webb who ministers in Mexico:

“My principal ministry responsibility has always been teaching. At first I taught children in the churches and in starting new works, then young people, and for many years I taught mostly women, now I teach the young people again. In addition, I taught in the Bible institute in Ciudad Mante for 14 years, followed by 22 years as director and teacher in the Querétaro Spanish Language School.

For many years I have prepared illustrated lessons for children and for women. I have made them available at cost to our churches. This seems to meet a special need for teaching materials in Spanish. Recently I received a special blessing when a young lady, about 20 years old, told me her mother had taught my lessons when she was a child and they had been a blessing to her. Now she herself teaches children and would like to use the same lessons. It’s great to know this ministry will go on even after I am gone to my heavenly home! By the way, some lessons are now available on the Internet so people can print them out free and use them.”

To read the entire May 2012 Global Partners click here.