International (MNN) — Eight years ago, Global Advance saw a gap in the work they were doing. They had Frontline Shepherd's Conferences to encourage and equip pastors, they had Marketplace Ministries, to train and equip business leaders.
But there wasn't really a tailor-made ministry for half of their audience: women. Global Advance's Jonathon Shibley says, "Tens of thousands of pastors are being trained and equipped through our Global Advance Frontline Shepherd's conferences…so we have access to pastor's wives who bear a HUGE burden."
That's when The Esther Project came into being. This ministry was born to focus on women's spiritual growth. Wives are critical to a pastor's ministry. Mothers are vital to their families. And they need encouragement, too. From there, a sisterhood was born.
The Esther Project quickly became a global initiative. Shibley explains, "Our role is to come in and provide encouragement, provide some leadership training capacity and just practical issues that women deal with. [It's important for] them to know that ‘You're not forgotten. You're not a doormat. God didn't call you to be doormat and you're also not a victim for your whole life.'"
Many times these women-focused sessions would run concurrent with a Pastors Conference or within the context of a workshop in a Marketplace Conference.
Through strategic training and resourcing, their goal is to instill vision and hope. From there, women will impact others through influence, wisdom, and prayer. It was exactly the right response "for such a time as this." Shibley says it's taken off. "We're looking at doing several new initiatives in Dominican Republic, Peru, and Ghana. We've got a lot of invitations for 2013, and we're looking at the calendar now for how to do each of them. Just pray with us that God would give us wisdom and direction. We look forward to mobilizing many women to the nations."
Other important ministry ideas often stem from what happens as a result of The Esther Project, explains Shibley. "Those conferences are an initial catalyst for ongoing initiatives where people on the ground that we partner with will continue to go back into those communities and encourage women, provide leadership training opportunities, potential job opportunities in getting women involved with different social impact scenarios."
For example, a recent Daughters of Destiny conference not only provided respite for the women it served, it opened doors for more opportunities in South Africa. "Our partners on the ground are continuing a demographic research study of the village that we targeted there in Kya Sands (South Africa) where almost 60% is HIV-positive. Tremendous issues going on there, and we're looking at ways to funnel resources in to that community to meet the specific needs."
They're gearing up to mobilize women because "we feel like now is the time to really begin to ramp it up. We've done various pilots alongside our Frontline Shepherd's initiatives and our Marketplace initiatives, and now we see the Lord opening the door for us to really move this forward."
If you're a woman, Global Advance needs you. "We're going to need women to go serve in a variety of capacities, whether that's teaching, or serving, mentoring, and bringing the ministry of encouragement. We need women to pray."
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