Ordination to Serve
Ordination to Serve
I’m Joanna Winters, and my home state is Connecticut. I didn’t grow up in a family that attended church on a regular basis, and it wasn’t until my first college biology course that I thought about Christianity or even the possibility of there being a God. I was a student of science; I needed physical evidence, I needed supportive data, I needed to analyze the research. At the time, the existence of God seemed inconsequential. I mean, I had my plans for my life, I had everything under control, things were going in the direction that I wanted them to.
That is until they weren’t. During my last year of college, these plans that I based my whole life around started to fall apart. I began to wonder if we humans even had a real purpose, what was the point of it all? It was a dark time of discouragement, anxiety, and hopelessness. Well, my professional mentor at the time happened to be a Christian. After spending some time with her and seeing how she loved and cared for others through her faith and because of her faith, I wanted to know more. I never asked her, but I wondered how she could be so certain about Jesus. So, I started reading the Bible and attending a church.
One evening, I realized how much I needed God and that no matter how hard I tried, I would always fall short. But then I discovered in Romans chapter 3 verse 23 that we all have fallen short…” for all have sinned and fell short of the glory of God.” Even though I wasn’t perfect, I found in Romans chapter 5 verse 8 that God loved me anyway and offers forgiveness through Jesus’s death on the cross…” but God shows His love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” …He died for me. All I had to do was accept this gift. That night I decided to follow Christ and accept Him as my Lord and Savior. Life was no longer just about me and my plans; it became about having a relationship with and following Christ. And even though I still struggle at times with trying to do things my way, I love and trust God and want to serve Him by sharing His promises for eternal life with others.
After joining a team from Christian Veterinary Missions on a trip to serve in Asia, my perspective about the body of Christ changed, and I knew that I needed to get plugged more into my local church regarding serving. I was already serving as a member on the board of directors at my church (a young church plant in Naugatuck, CT), assisting with a few administrative things and on the rotation for serving on Sunday mornings. But something seemed to be missing. I shared this with a friend of mine (who happens to be the pastor’s wife), and she mentioned the need for someone to coordinate the women’s ministry, to get it up and going on a regular basis. So I prayerfully decided to serve the women at my church through coordinating fellowship activities, facilitating the women’s Bible study group and assisting with outreach/service activities. It was almost two years ago that we launched “The Stirring: Women’s Ministry at Calvary Chapel Naugatuck” and it’s been growing ever since! Through the process, I’ve discovered that I’m passionate about encouraging other women to dig deeper into the Word of God and serving them in a way that allows for an authentic, do-life-together, loving Christ-centered community. However, over the past several months, I’ve had the blessing of seeing things that I cannot un-see, experiencing things that I cannot ignore or fully describe, and I’ve engaged in the presence of God in ways that I struggle to articulate. It’s awakened a deep hunger in me…a craving for constant intimacy with God that I can only compare to breathing.
Within these experiences and settled somewhere deep in my heart is a love for the people of Asia. While I had previously thought that I would be ministering only at my home church, I know that God is calling me to do something more than just that…something that I know that cannot do on my own, in my strength. While I don’t know exactly what that will look like, I cannot think of anything more exciting or freeing than partnering with God by following the Spirit’s present leading moment by moment. God’s birthed a passion in my heart for ministry that: cultivates a hunger for intimacy with God, which is where everything flows from (John 15); to encourage the personal discovery of the transformational power of God’s Word through studying and sharing His Word in a scripturally-sound, gospel-centered, Spirit-led way that directs all attention to Jesus; to open up and preserve space and opportunities for others to discover who God is and who they are in His eyes (both those who are a part of the Body of Christ and those who are not yet), including their specific, God-given, Holy Spirit-fueled gifting and abilities; to embolden and equip others to step out in faith, to experience the freedom that they have in Christ to partner with God in order to walk out the unique destiny that He has purposed/intended for them…Foundational: to love God and to love others in the same that God loves them and then to multiply (to raise up disciples of Christ).
And with all of this is has been made clear to my heart that I’m to cross many human-made boundary lines: geographically, denominationally, culturally, etc.) while uncompromisingly clinging tightly to the Truth. Having a Christian Leaders Institute free training available has been a blessing in allowing me to receive the teaching and training that I need, but that I cannot afford on my own. I hope that CLI training will help to equip me so that I can equip other women as I continue to serve.