The Baptist World Alliance was founded in 1905 as a way to unite Baptists across the world. Currently, 51 million Baptists from 176,000 churches are part of the organization.
Twenty-nine years later, after many of the BWA women met together for prayer, fellowship and service, the Baptist World Alliance women’s committee was formed, which later became the Baptist World Alliance Women. Representing more than 150 countries, BWAW includes seven Continental Unions, each with its own leadership and area of service.
“I lead the team of Continental Union presidents who lead the work of Baptist women in seven continental regions of the world: Asia, the Pacific, Europe, Latin America, North America, Africa and the Caribbean,” said Karen Wilson, president of BWAW.
“I am responsible for setting vision and direction for the ministry to Baptist women globally. It is estimated this would affect 28 million women globally,” said Wilson, who serves from Australia.
Wilson also works as the vice president of international ministries with the Global Leadership Network and is the CEO of the Global Leadership Network Australia.
The distance between the teams of leaders makes this role difficult. Except for one in-person meeting each year, meetings are conducted virtually.
“With modern digital communication this has become so much easier, but with time zones and varying cultural needs, it is a complex role and one that is often challenging,” she said.
Circle of friends
When Wilson is able to be with the leaders and other BWAW members, she said she feels like she’s within a circle of friends, even with those she just met.
“Women all over the world, honestly, are the same. We feel the same; we love the same; we need the same; we come together the same,” she said.
When the opportunity came to take the role as president of BWAW, she quickly prayed and then accepted, excited about getting the opportunity to travel the world.
Then COVID-19 arrived.
“Within months, there was no traveling to any continent of the world. And then you stop and go, ‘God, what on earth am I doing here?’ This is not what I thought it would be,” she said.
However, Wilson is thankful for technology.
“Actually, it doesn’t matter whether we travel every day or whether I’m looking at a screen with nine boxes; I am the person who just wants them even,” she joked. “You know what? Seven is odd. I want to ask someone to leave the meeting because I just want them neat on my screen.”
Much to learn
Kidding aside, Wilson loves meeting and seeing God work through women from all over the world as well as collaborating with the other leaders, whom she calls an “absolute joy.”
Though she believes the promise of Ephesians 3:20, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” she appreciates the scope of the battle taking place all over the world.
“In countries that are at war and ravaged with natural disasters and poverty, we see the shining light of Christ brighter than ever,” Wilson said. “We have a lot to learn about how God blesses His people, and it has little to do with wealth or prosperity. The deepest places with God are often found in the darkest places on Earth.”
BWAW’s foundation is prayer and shows it each year when they organize the Baptist Women’s World Day of Prayer, held the first Monday in November.
In 2022, BWAW developed a prayer guide, calendar, other resources, a virtual networking platform and a global worship service as part of this prayer initiative.
Wilson believes in the power of God and the strength of women and wants to encourage women in the fight.
“God is at work globally. The Church is the hope of the world and His Spirit is moving in incredible ways,” Wilson said. “Women hold the key to transformational living and in so many communities globally, they are the strength of health and well-being.
“What’s in you, He wants to bring out of you. Say yes to God in everything He asks you to do. Every time God asks, just have a posture of yes.”
To learn more about BWAW and the Baptist Women’s World Day of Prayer, go to bwawomen.org.