The Baptist Women of North America, which is part of Baptist World Alliance Women, face similar family, work and environmental struggles as all women worldwide, said TaNikka Sheppard, former president of BWNA.
According to Patty Lane, current BWNA President, no matter what life is like for these women living in the U.S. and Canada, they have one common battle: “The time to do all they want and feel called to do.”
Lane just started a five-year term at BWNA after retiring from the Baptist General Convention of Texas, where she worked for 37 years.
She also has been a Journeyman through the International Mission Board, a multicultural church planter and the director of intercultural ministries with BGCT.
“I became involved in [Baptist World Alliance] through [North American Baptist Fellowship] in 2004–2005 when the Vietnamese churches in the U.S. wanted to approach the Vietnamese government about giving recognition to other Baptist groups in Vietnam. By working with NABF, we were able to bring this issue to BWA, and a group of us went to Vietnam in the summer of 2006 to conduct those talks,” Lane said.
“It was a real opportunity to see the power of Baptists working together from across the world. From that point forward I have been so blessed to be part of BWA.”
Helping the community
Along with her work with BWNA, Lane leads a group from her church to help Afghan families who have moved to the Dallas area and is involved in helping solve the homelessness problem for refugees and immigrants.
Lane might be new, but she has already been touched by the women of BWNA and one particular area of their ministry focus — human trafficking.
“My experience is pretty limited, but I remember the big event in Toronto. It was a beautiful time together. I loved meeting so many women and hearing how they, in big and small ways, were changing the world.”
“The topic was human trafficking in all of its forms,” she continued. “[It was] a difficult topic, but such care and respect was taken. I was moved. One testimony shared was a woman who had been involved in prostitution in the past. She had gone outside the hotel where we were all staying one night and found a girl who at that very hotel that very night had been trafficked. [It was] very eye opening to what is all around, but I had no eyes to see.”
BWNA has developed resources to spread awareness about human trafficking. Go to bwna.today/resources/human-trafficking for group studies, individual studies, potential speakers and information for students.
Sheppard knows how crucial connection is, especially for those who can’t access services due to the distance. During her term, she focused on increasing the use of virtual platforms.
Lane regrets not understanding the incredible need for communication among women when she was young.
“I would have tried to get involved as a young woman and encouraged my friends who felt disenfranchised from their local Baptist body to get involved. Who knows? That connection may have been enough to have kept them serving in Baptist ministry,” Lane said.
“It is the friends and colleagues through BWA that feel like my Baptist family,” she said. “They introduced me to BWAW and I have been so blessed through those new relationships.”
As BWNA president, Lane has also already learned that “women can be supportive of each other, learn from each other and feel empowered through each other to do all that God has called us each to do. Women do not have to serve alone.”
Prayer needs for BWNA include:
- To have discernment.
- To hear God’s leading and have the courage to obey.
- To be effective leaders.
- To be encouragers.
To find out more about BWNA, go to bwawomen.org and find this region in “Continental Unions” under the tab “About Us.”