Secretly Chad and I sat with a woman who served as one of the main leaders of a movement of 20 million believers of East Asia. She spoke with humility, conviction, and passion.

This woman, with a sparkle in her eyes, recounted for us some of her prison experiences. Due to her faith and leadership for the house churches of East Asia this sister in Christ endured much for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Through an amazing opportunity, she and we had the privilege of serving together in another very difficult area of the world (I am not saying specifics here because of security). Traveling together, we had precious opportunities to discuss women in leadership in our respective nations and how God wants to utilize both males and females to complete His mission. Laughingly she said one day, “Leslie, I tell people I did go to seminary, but it was in prison!” She said her deepest learning of leadership and service occurred within the brick of prison walls.

Years ago, a young woman ran up to me and excitedly proclaimed, “Leslie, I am so excited! God has called me to youth ministry!” I delighted with her and proceeded to ask, “Do you believe God is calling you to youth ministry in the states or abroad, with junior high or high school, etc.” She looked at me strangely and said, “Well, I don’t know Leslie. He just called me. But I will do whatever my husband feels called to do.”

I asked, “Are you dating anyone?” She said, “Well, no, I am not, but God called me to youth ministry but obviously I have to get married first.” This obviously began a LONG conversation. She proceeded to share, “Leslie, I just really believe boys in youth groups need to have a strong mentor to follow and to see a man in leadership.” I responded with, “What about the girls? Do they not need to see a strong female in leadership?”

She looked at me and said quietly, “Leslie, I have never thought of that before. But yes, I guess they do.” I encouraged this precious young woman to not wait for a man in order to follow God’s dreams for her life. God is actively looking to raise up his sons AND daughters to engage the broken world.

I have a deep passion for girls and women to be empowered and released into their callings beside our brothers. I want girls and women to realize they have destinies as large as this woman in East Asia who daily gives her all, abandoned in the hands of Almighty God. It is not men that enable women to follow through on God’s movements in their lives. It is the Holy Spirit residing within – challenging, encouraging and empowering His girls to do the impossible for the sake of the world.

Through reflections on leadership, stories from women in leadership around the world, and practical action steps, I pray for the Holy Spirit to compel His girls to step up into the callings He gives each of us. May we each speak and live, like this East Asian sister, with humility, conviction, and passion!

So where do you see yourself? Do you find yourself free to use your gifts like this East Asian sister or do you find yourself blocked from service for some reason?