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  • Two Great Britain and Ireland based Interserve Partners have been working to empower leaders from diverse racial and religious backgrounds. Maryam* grew up in the UK with her parents who had emigrated from South Asia. Here is her story of her journey into leadership:

    ‘The challenges have mostly been within myself; I never saw myself as a leader of any sort due to my sense of unworthiness and lack of understanding. I came from a different faith background where men have always been leaders and women weren’t seen or heard, so I held myself back and just kept my gifts within my circle of friends. Seeing women lead in church was a huge eye-opener for me as I never imagined God would call women to lead, especially in a house of worship.

    It took a long time for me to accept any kind of role, due to my own lack of confidence. But now I am leading the Prayer Ministry team. I have a heart for reconciliation as I was disowned by my own family when I accepted the Lord Jesus into my life. During the heartbreaking years we stayed apart, I persistently prayed that one day they would accept me for who I am. God answered prayers in ways unimaginable, which is why Prayer Ministry is close to my heart. Prayer is the very element of who we are as believers in Christ. We are called to pray at all times and in every situation, especially more so now where there is so much need in our world, so many hurting people around us and within us.

    I don’t think I would be in this role if it hadn’t been for leaders and friends at church who have encouraged and supported me over many years. Their love, patience and prayers have built the confidence within me that was needed for this role. Even when I thought my negativity must drive them mad, they didn’t give up on me; instead they were even more determined to respect the gifts that I could bring. I am blessed to be a small part of the work of the church in serving the community.’

    Naomi* is another member of this nurturing church family. Originally from a different faith background, her passion
    is to see others come to know Jesus and grow in their following of him. She has been helping co-ordinate a regular
    informal “Table” gathering, centred on a shared meal, reading a Jesus story together and praying for one another. The Table gathers people from different faiths who are drawn to exploring the person of Jesus.

    When some of the other leaders recently needed to step back, Naomi was asked if she would take the responsibility of co-leading the Table. She was initially concerned that she didn’t have the ‘necessary’ gifts for leading a ‘ministry’.
    But with encouragement she came to see that though she may not have great confidence in leading from the front, her pastoral input is valued by many, and the stories of her own life transformed by Jesus are an inspiration to everyone. Naomi realised that her own gifts were different from other leaders’, and that they could complement one another. Naomi is still a reluctant leader, but maybe that is the best kind!

    *Names changed to protect identity

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