On this International Women's Day, we celebrate the voices of these valued members of our A3 Community. We are so fortunate to know and work with these tremendous people and many others like them.
'We need your voice' — the call for women in leadership
Mary Jo Wilson
Mary Jo Wilson's own desire to understand how God views women in leadership compelled her to invest time in scripture and prayer. She says that, in a world of mixed messages and traditional values, it can be easier for a women to lead from the back rather than take a more upfront role at the table where key decisions are made in ministry.
“I think it’s been difficult sometimes to capture those women and to find a place where we can engage them and develop them as leaders because they are in the background and often they’re more comfortable in the background.”
Mary Jo’s personal investment resulted in a white paper on women in leadership.
“As I studied and prayed, the point of my paper was women and men serving together and how we can come together in the body of Christ and be all about the mission – not separating and not limiting anyone to serve and be about the Great Commission.”
- Keep reading and listen to her interview...
- See also, Investing in women leaders, too, so churches can multiply
It's a Different World
When Japanese people would see me, they'd give me the "You're different" look, and practically break their necks because they never looked away.
There was a young man on the train who couldn’t stop staring. It was comical because he was not a small man and kept trying to hide behind a pole so he could stare at me. As he got off of the train he didn’t stop looking. He walked backward and even pulled his camera out and aimed it at me. I was tempted to pose . . . but I didn’t. I was too tired from traveling to find my Philly-girl response.
It was then that I had to have a pep talk with myself:
Tia, being different is not a bad thing. You are here to represent the Creator. He created you with purpose and for a purpose. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Counting the Cost: The Shape of You
When I first moved to Japan, my first time worshipping in Japanese with the local church impacted me deeply. I didn’t understand the language, but I knew we were worshipping the same God, Creator, and Savior. I had just met these people, but I knew they were family.
I also got exhorted early on that in Japan I would have to learn how to “feed myself,” spiritually. I would have to take charge of my spiritual life and pursue Jesus wholeheartedly because, truly, no one else could do it for me.
There were many days when this wasn’t easy. But while there have been many rough and dry patches along the way, and sometimes the shaping is painful, I would much rather be clay in the Potter’s hands than be brittle and unyielding.
Spiritually, I am a different person because of how the Potter had shaped me in Japan.
New, But Not — Our Journey to Japan
After returning home from a short-term mission trip to Japan, we spent six months in the early half of 2012 praying, listening, reading Scripture, and talking to friends, family, and mentors about our potential move. We felt strongly that God was saying, “Go.” But of course, with any big decision, you always question things. (Well, maybe you don’t, but I do!) For Kohei and I, what solidified our decision was being able to say,
Even if things don’t turn out like we think and we find ourselves back in the US, we took a step of faith!
That in and of itself helped us feel like we had nothing to lose. Stretching our faith and relationship with God? Sign me up! (Honestly, in the beginning, it was exciting . . . but boy, the hardship and heartache that came later stretched my faith and relationship with God far more than I could ever have imagined. Not in an “Oh, this is great and wonderful!” way, but in a truly excruciating way.)
My Journey Toward Ethical Awareness
Sue Plumb Takamoto
Even though I am the founder and director of one of the very few social enterprises in Japan for women, I have not been very aware of the issues surrounding the fashion industry and ethical sustainability. That all began to change two years ago.
After some deliberate consideration, my husband and I canceled our planned seaside vacation to instead go as a family to Cambodia. Let’s just say our four children were not excited about this decision! Upon arrival, we were hosted by wonderful Cambodian friends also working with our organization [A3]. We told them that our goal was to see and experience “real life” in this developing country.
Those eight days changed our views of the world -- our children included.
How can you develop women leaders if their basic rights aren’t even recognized?
Kärin Primuth, A3 board member, says not only is it possible, but it’s also key to growing God’s Kingdom.
“It’s a very critical opportunity,” Primuth emphasizes. “Basically, to develop a woman is to develop a family, a community, and a culture, because she is going to re-invest in her family, her children, and her community.”
A3 helps women recognize the skills God has given them, and then use those skills to tell more people about Jesus. But, they’re not the only mission agencies investing in an oft-overlooked people group.
“There are women who are trying to catalyze opportunities for other women to create ministries that encourage their development,” notes Primuth.
- Cover image courtesy https://www.wheniscalendars.com/
- Headshots courtesy from these women