Speakers at the 2013 Passion Conference taught me why it’s important to help stop human trafficking worldwide and motivated me to step up.
When I came on board with TCW in September of this year, our cover story profiled Katariina Rosenblaat, a sex trafficking victim who was rescued and now runs her own organization to help raise awareness and rescue and restore girls trapped in the trafficking industry nationwide (“There Is H.O.P.E. for Me”). Her story both shocked and amazed me—I knew sex trafficking was a problem, but everything changed when I was able to put a face to the issue. I wanted to know how I could help others like Katariina, and the article provided me with several resources to do so.
Not all churches underchallenge women.
Like an enthusiastic bobblehead, I found myself rambunctiously nodding in agreement as I read Amy Simpson’s “A Challenge to the Chronically Underchallenged.” I resonate with Simpson’s passion for the church to more fully empower women to actively minister to others and to address the world’s needs. Like Simpson, I bemoan the tendency for women to be relegated to nice, cutesy, tame little roles in the church. Part of me hollered out an enthusiastic “Amen!” of agreement.
But I also found myself nodding in agreement with another sentiment—a commenter who responded to Simpson this way: “I would simply have to say: ‘Come to my church. There’s plenty for you to do in ministry and you would be most welcome to do it.’”
Though I concur with Simpson’s overall sentiment, not all churches underchallenge women. In fact, I’ve regularly felt profoundly challenged by my own church.
I finally learned about identity, mission, and worth
A few years ago this group would have been a nightmare for me. Not because this particular group is strange or the women are scary, but because I hated women’s ministry. Or at least I thought I did. I’d been part of women’s groups before that reeked of shallowness and gossip and high-pitched voices offering Sunday school answers for real life issues. These groups were cliques and used cattiness with pride. I continually felt as though I was in a competition for best outfit with everyone else in the room.
And then there were the stereotypes of women that they lumped everyone in. They assumed I love girly-girl things just because I’m a woman. (I actually went to a retreat once where the speaker wore a bright pink feather boa and had her hair in a ponytail that stuck straight up out of the crown of her head. She demanded we do the same—to tap into our feminine side—if we wanted to get anything out of her message.)
Being open to the women in my life who know me
I’ve never really thought of myself as someone who wants a mentor. I’m pretty self-sufficient. I hold my cards close to my chest, and—for better or worse—it’s not in my nature to talk about a problem or decision in-depthly with many others.
“I’ve never had a mentor,” I’d tell friends who would talk about a youth leader who poured into their lives when they were high school or the teacher who guided them through some tough decisions. While I was generally okay with this, sometimes I’d feel a pang of jealousy toward those who had an older woman take a mentoring role in their life.
It wasn’t until more recently that I began to see the mentors in my life. Two women come to mind—both of them former bosses. I sat across the table from one of them at a restaurant recently, realizing that it had been nine years ago that we’d first met. She hired me at my college library—a place where I worked for four years. Every so often we get together to catch up, this last time after a too-long hiatus. I left the three-hour dinner feeling so grateful for her. While probably neither she nor I would give her the title of “mentor” over “friend,” it struck me that she was indeed a mentor to me and has been for the past nine years. A lot of growing and changing happens during those formative college years, and it nearly overwhelms me to look back and remember her prayers for me, her questions, her investment in my life. Though I was employed by her, I knew that I was more than just a student worker—my personal and spiritual life was cared for. Even now when I don’t see her for a long time, she remembers details of my life, encourages me, and speaks truth. I’m humbled to realize that I’ve had a couple amazing women invest in me, despite my inwardness.