Baptist women leaders from around the globe gathered July 10 to share ministry updates and fellowship ahead of the Baptist World Alliance 2022 Annual Gathering in Birmingham.
The presidents of BWA Women’s seven Continental Unions and guests met for a program and reception at Mountain Brook Baptist Church. The BWA 2022 Annual Gathering is being held this week (July 10-15) at Samford University.
“Women all around the world are the same. We feel the same. We love the same. We need the same. We come together the same,” said Karen Wilson of Australia, president of BWA Women, as she welcomed guests. “I was just telling some of you that though we just met, we are already friends.”
Wilson, who was installed as BWA Women president in July 2020, said that upon learning she would serve in the role, she was looking forward to traveling to every continent to share the gospel and encourage other women. But as she began her five-year term, everything stopped due to COVID-19.
She questioned God, asking, “Well, God, what on earth am I doing here? This is not what I thought it would be.”
Say ‘yes’ to God
But even amid a global pandemic, Wilson found opportunities to work with people from all walks of life and to serve the marginalized around the world.
She challenged other women to do the same.
“God is calling us to sit and take a seat at the table. Pull up a chair and sit down; it’s time for our voice to be heard. Time is short.
“If you leave with nothing else today,” Wilson said, “leave with a sense of saying ‘yes’ to God in everything you do. It may be what you expected or it may not be what you thought it would be. What’s in you that He wants to bring out of you?”
The program included accounts from the leaders of six of the seven regions of BWA Women about what life is like now for women in ministry.
President Liliana Fernandez de Farina, Latin America:
This group asks the government of each country they serve, “Well, here we are. What do you need? What does this community need?” The answer is always the same — the children. This area’s infant mortality rate is one of the highest in the world, mostly due to poor nutrition or easily curable diseases.
They are implementing a literacy program to teach women how to teach women how to read, as there is a direct link between literacy and infant mortality.
President Vernette Myint Myint San, Asia:
San is a physician. After a year of traveling around 10 countries in Asia, she realized it’s a huge continent, densely populated and with a low socio-economic status. During the pandemic issues became worse, especially concerning abuse of children and spouses. During COVID’s first wave, BWA Women helped by donating about $200,000 for COVID-related issues. By its third wave, they focused on prevention, supplying items such as vaccinations, thermometers and medicine.
President Karlene Edwards-Warrick, Caribbean:
Working with the government, the Caribbean group has been able to do things like distribute diapers and feed the needy during the pandemic. However, its focus is training women to fulfill their God-given roles and callings. One way is through a movement BWA pioneered to train and develop global leaders. The first cohort, two women from each continent, is being trained now.
President Fabienne Seguin, Europe:
This region is very diverse and includes countries like Great Britain and France, Muslim cultures and parts of central Asia. They deal with problems regarding ISIS and try to help those affected by the war in Ukraine. They are working to support and welcome refugees and adding a course at the International Baptist Seminary in Amsterdam on domestic violence.
TaNikka Sheppard, North America:
The North American region focuses on four areas: prayer and the Baptist Women’s World Day of Prayer held the first Monday of November; resourcing; networking, recognizing that women know how to connect women; and leadership development — helping to help young female leaders get started.