Should a woman be a pastor? Does a woman have the authority to teach men? These are some of the questions that many organizations have asked and hence serving as a debate among many Christians today. However, in our organization this is has not been asked for a long time now. Not only were we the first Latin American organization in the U.S. to ordain a woman to the full ministry, but we are honored with a National Board of Directors where nearly half of its members are women. Four of nine members of the Board of Directors are women and all function in different pastoral positions.
For us they are all great of pride because they have not been afraid to respond to the call that God and the organization made to their lives. Even greater is to see that they have not responded to this call as "women" who have to prove to "men" that they are equal or better, but have responded by knowing that according to the Word there are no "women or men" but that we are all equal and chosen to serve. You could see any of them serving coffee to all the men on the board, but you could also see them sending the same men to do what they need to be done. One could see them submit to anyone as well as directing with the authority in them. These are the ladies who defend the Faith for our organization:
Our Executive Secretary is Pastor Raquel "Cookie" Sommers. A passionate about biblical teachings and much more about what is being taught to our children. In her opinion, a church that does not see the importance of biblical teaching to children has not understood its North. After more than 24 years in the children's ministry, she is still passionate about "helping children grow in their relationship with Jesus and making them disciples of the Master."
We enjoy having a Treasurer who is a Defender from an early age. Rev. Claudia Montufar not only cares about the organization's finances but enjoys mentoring the treasurers of the different churches. She is always the first to offer her free services to all treasurers in order to facilitate their work knowing personally the high levels of stress that such responsibility burdens. Surely, one thing she is passionate about "is serving as a mentor to others."
The third lady we will meet is Pastor Ingrid Godínez. Being the youngest of the entire board, she has become the younger sister of all. Her personality is undeniably what strikes everyone's attention. Surely for Pastor Ingrid no one is a stranger because she treats everyone as if she knew them for a lifetime. While she has no problem being direct, when necessary, her willingness to make everyone feel welcome has been a great blessing to everyone on the Board.
To this group we add who perhaps is the most pampered by all. Rev. Nancy Lopez has won the hearts of all of us who know her, we know that she has nothing that belongs to her because her willingness to give everything for the sake of the Gospel is unmatched. But of course, her missionary heart and the experiences she has had, have led her to be so. She says, “my passion is missions” and everyone who knows and has seen her in action does not doubt that at all.
We wanted to take some time to let you know a little bit about the anointed ladies so we asked them a number of questions that would allow us not only to know who they are, but what they think about the ministry and our organization.
Regarding the day God changed their lives, one of the most shocking stories you could ever hear is Rev. Nancy’s. God met her in 1986 in the emergency room of a hospital in the city of Bayamón, Puerto Rico where she grew up after being born in New York City. There, after risking her life and surviving a horrible experience, God manifested himself and led her to recognize the God that her mother served. As Rev. Lopez remembers. her first year serving the Lord was an "intense" one. "It was a real thing," she added, "God rushed me" to know the things He had for her.
Pastor Claudia, on the other hand, had an encounter with God when she was only 16 years old in one of our churches in Los Angeles, California where she has lived all her life. Her experience occurred in an evangelistic campaign by the renowned Evangelist Yiye Avila. Her greatest memories are to have been part of the youth ministry of her church and the region where she got to know many who today also serve in the ministry.
Of course, when we talked to them about their first steps in leadership, Pastor Raquel told us that it was as a Sunday School teaching to the children. "This task was given to me a month after surrendering my life to Christ." In asking her to help us understand how she did, she mentioned that she "had not had any experience in teaching, nor did I know the Word, so I dug into the Word of God not only to teach the lesson but to fully understand it and allow it to permeate every part of my life." Perhaps that is why she is always passionate to dig deeper into the Word. "While teaching the Word of God I grew spiritually along with the children," Pastor Sommers recalled.
Although, like many others, Pastor Nancy's first leadership experiences were with the women’s ministry, as you can imagine, the first ministerial experiences were in the missionary field. It was there that her pastoral heart began when she saw the great need of many. The best way to explain what moved Pastor Nancy's heart by seeing the great need of others is to use Pastor Raquel's words in describing her early pastoral experiences. "I immediately discovered that being a pastor is not a job, it is what a person is," she added. "I realized that when God calls someone to be a pastor, He puts certain characteristics of love and care for the flock." Those of us who have the great honor of serving as pastors clearly understand her words and are convinced that nothing could be achieved were it not for what God has placed in us. As for the commitment that pastoral ministry requires, she shared; "It is not possible to go home at the end of the day and leave the responsibilities of work behind as many have the opportunity to do." That and many other things show us the great weight of commitment that these women carry.
It is interesting to know how they think about the changes they currently see in the ministry and also to know what they think of our organization and the future of it, but if you want to know what they think... visit us again soon for part 2 of this interview.