A t age five, I remember sitting in the pews at church and watching two women dressed in black robes and kente cloth (colorful stoles that represent African heritage) gracefully stride down the aisle. These women and three other women would walk up to the pulpit and sit in chairs that looked like royalty. This was the first time I witnessed women in leadership. As a young girl, I knew I wanted to be just like them someday.
Throughout my journey, God has constantly revealed that he can and will use anyone to spread the gospel. And I have realized that I serve an intentional God. God intentionally told Jonah to go to Nineveh, even though he already knew that Jonah would run the opposite way. In God’s sense of humor, he tends to choose the ones who are most timid and quiet, and he puts them in places where they are to be bold and loud. Maybe that’s why Philippians 4:13 has always stood out to me when studying the Word of God: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
I came to know and love God through the ministry of dance. As a student of dance, my passion grew. Soon, God elevated me to lead a dance ministry. Through my calling, I now minister to girls and women ages five to fifty-five (and older) who are now using their gift of dance to encourage one another, to bring about messages of social change, and to share the gospel in community settings.
I believe that God intentionally put me in a place of leadership because he was preparing me to become a deacon. Women who were deacons, like my grandmother and mother, showed me that a deacon’s heart is one of servanthood, humbleness, and compassion. Becoming a female leader in my church has taught me that, like Jesus, I must have a heart for the people without judgement and prejudice. When Jesus met the woman at the well, he knew her status, but he still met her where she was, with love and compassion.
Every so often, it’s easy for believers to think that we are set apart from the world, to think that the community is something that we need to help or save. But if we really look at it, we are the community. Whether saved or unsaved, whether churched and unchurched, we are all God’s children. We are all sinners saved by grace. God’s mission is to all people.
My church often does outreach by entering into dialogue about common issues like domestic violence, health care, school and online bullying, gun violence, racism, and discrimination. Through various workshops, retreats, symposiums, health fairs, and events, we have been able to reach out to men, women, boys, and girls on a common ground. These are all things that affect us and people that we know. The conversations are relevant when we turn “their” problem into “our” problem. This is where I see God at work, continuing to weave us together for his glory.
Through my church, I’ve also seen God’s mission thriving in women’s ministry. For the past three years, we’ve had an event called “100 Women In White.” This event gathers more than 100 women together in one place as we reflect on different issues that are facing women today. It is a Spirit-led event that celebrates multicultural and intergenerational women who are discovering their gifts. Women leave the event knowing they have gifts that can be used by God—gifts of telecommunication, cooking, crocheting, organization, drawing, childcare, acting, public speaking, and dancing. As a result of this event, we have seen more women and young adults stepping into new leadership roles in the church. It is my prayer that God will continue to bring women of color—women who are on fire for Christ and want to effect positive change—into leadership within the church and in the world.
Today, I can’t help but remember those powerful women sitting in those chairs and looking like royalty. We live in a time where many people of power don’t lead with love, compassion, and mercy. Instead, they sit in their chairs of royalty and lead with anger, hate, and personal agenda. Many seek to drive a rhetoric that diminishes women and their call. But I cannot be silent, and I will continue to speak out against injustices as God has called me and everyone to do. It is my hope that God will strengthen us to always live into our calling because there is more that he requires of thee.
Bianca Williams is a member of Dewitt Reformed Church in New York, New York, where she serves as a deacon, leads drama and dance ministries, and is involved with Sunday school and youth ministries. She attends the Borough of Manhattan Community College and works as a pre-K teacher.