This Conference Wants Your Feminine Heart!

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“God knows the depth and potential He has put in the feminine heart.” - Bobbie Houston

Whew - if you don’t know Bobbie Houston, please do yourself a favor and read her quintessential book on women and women’s ministry - “The Sisterhood - How the Power of the Feminine Heart Can Become a Catalyst for Change and Make the World a Better Place” about her 20-year plus journey with Hillsong Sisterhood and the Colour Conference. Yes, it’s color with a “u” because she’s from the land down under, Australia.

Equally, if you are unfamiliar with Hillsong, head over to YouTube to listen to some of the worship gems they have dropped over the last 30 years of ministry, including Oceans (Where Feet May Fail), What A Beautiful Name and, an oldie but goodie, Shout to the Lord.

On the heels of Hillsong’s widely popular worship and music ministry, Bobbie launched what is widely considered the largest women’s conference in the world, which kicks off in Sydney, and then travels to London, Kiev, Cape Town, Los Angeles, and New York City.

“The Sisterhood has just put new language and parameters around [women’s ministry],” says Bobbie. “It’s crossed some lines that I think were generational, where young women would perhaps not see themselves as part of traditional ‘women’s ministry’. I think all those barriers have been beautifully broken down. The Sisterhood represents a really wide, gorgeous demographic of girls.”

So, last weekend, I found myself among this wide and gorgeous demographic of girls. There were girls who came from every corner of the globe and the beauty and diversity of God’s kingdom was on full display. To kickoff the conference, Bobbie hosts a “high tea party” with senior pastors and guests who are a part of the Hillsong Leadership Network, a collective of churches and leaders who share resources to help build healthy local churches.

Source: Hillsong Network website

Source: Hillsong Network website

Then, it’s time for the main event: an all-out-high-octane-mega-overdose of worship and womanhood, fueled by inspiring words from Bobbie, Dawn Chere Wilkerson, and others. Dawn Chere spoke about her eight-year battle with infertility, while Bobbie led discussions on gender and racial justice.

Here are some of our favorite moments:

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“I was overwhelmed, I felt really insecure. I didn’t want to be known as the infertility girl, I didn’t want that label on me. I just wanted to figure it out before people were able to attach that name to my life. I had my eyes looking to doctors, other friendships, and other support. But you when the moment that changed my life came? It’s when I came eye-to-eye with the one who loves me the most. It took years for me to be really transparent with God and say God, ‘I’m really not happy with this season, I resent it. I don’t know what to do with it or how to move forward … and as I looked eye-to-eye- with Jesus, my Jesus, my Yeshua, my Strength, my Song, my Salvation, an amazing thing happened. I didn’t hold a baby in my arms but Jesus became my treasure.

And Jesus satisfied my soul. He satisfied my soul in a way that a baby never could, he satisfied my soul in a way that my marriage never could or any achievements never could. It was a deep rooted establishment of peace. Something that was a revelation in my spirit that God would never leave me, never forsake me and even if I never held a baby on this side of eternity, that my life had purpose and that I have work to do. There is a mission before me and there is no time to waste.”

- Dawn Chere Wilkerson’s message on Day 2.

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Watch more highlights from Colour Conference on Instagram here.

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Women Making History: Carolyn Li Ming Geh

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by Megan Montgomery

What do you do when the products you want to use aren’t on the market?  If you’re Carolyn Li Ming Geh (Li), you invent them.  

While Li had always had sensitive skin, it wasn’t until she moved from Malaysia to Canada for college that her skin sensitivities got worse.  As a child, Li’s father, an engineer, instilled in her a love for creating things using natural ingredients instead of chemicals, including food items such as soymilk and yogurt.  Li struggled to find skincare products that worked for her so she decided to tap into her childhood experience of sourcing her own raw plant-based ingredients, including guava fruit, turmeric root, cajeput, tamanu, vetiver, rice, and coconut, and developing a few formulas to address her skincare needs.

“While I was getting my Master’s degree in Neuroscience,” Li says, “I was scouted to be a double on a TV show, which eventually led to a contract with a top modeling agency in New York City.  As a model, I  had to be even more diligent about my skincare routine and I continued to refine my formula by combining ancient traditions with modern science.  Some of the make-up artists that I was working with kept telling me that I had great skin and asking me about the products that I used on my skin.”

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When Li informed them that she made her own products, they strongly encouraged her to launch her own skincare line.  As Li prayed about taking the leap to start her own business, Li decided to launch a skincare service brand that was not just nourishing for the skin, but also good for the soul. She wanted her skincare line to encourage women that beauty is much more than just skincare.  With that purpose , Li Organics (www.liorganics.com) was officially launched in Jan 2019.  

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Li had also had a dream many years earlier that had never left her and in that dream she built a school.  She decided that 10 percent  of her company’s profits would go to building classrooms and schools in poverty zones.  Attending school had always been a joy for her and opened up a lot of opportunities for her to go to Canada and the U.S. and then later travel to many other countries, which opened her up to a much broader world beyond her village. 

“I want children to have the opportunity to go to school,  get an education, and dream as big as they possibly can,” says Li. “I encourage everyone reading this to pay attention to the dreams on your heart as they might be there for a reason that’s much bigger that you. We also get to support local communities on the island of Penang in Malaysia, where our products are handcrafted in small batches using time-tested, traditional methods. We take no shortcuts to create the best product possible. These products are the very best nature has to offer, and I hope they nourish and make everyone who uses them even more beautiful than they already are. My promise is that we will never compromise on the quality, source, or safety of our ingredients, and you’ll certainly see that in the results!”

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The Best of International Women's Day 2019

Women are powerful. At least that’s the sentiment of many who posted, rallied, and supported the UN’s annual International Women’s Day celebration today.  International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women - while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance. The first International Women's Day occurred in 1911, supported by over one million people.

Here are some of the conversations that took place in honor of #IWD2019 and the theme #BalanceforBetter:

Faith Leaders

Women, it’s time to USE YOUR VOICE to ENCOURAGE the young and the not so young, to BUILD, to BLESS, to SPEAK TRUTH, to INVITE others in, and to tell the never-ending story of hope, faith, & LOVE 💕 The earth needs its DAUGHTERS.

Women, it’s time to USE YOUR VOICE to ENCOURAGE the young and the not so young, to BUILD, to BLESS, to SPEAK TRUTH, to INVITE others in, and to tell the never-ending story of hope, faith, & LOVE 💕 The earth needs its DAUGHTERS.

The Lord announces the word, and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng.
(Psalm 68:11 NIV)

“Happy International Women’s Day! Daughter of God, we love and believe in you. More than that, God Himself has chosen and cherishes you. He created you as an answer and a force for good on the earth. Your strength, insights, questions, and dreams are invaluable to the kingdom of God. Be encouraged that your contribution will bring joy to your family, your community, and the world.” - Lisa Bevere

Grandmothers. Mothers. Sisters. Nieces. Daughters. So  #grateful  💜 #internationalwomensday  - Priscilla Shirer

Grandmothers. Mothers. Sisters. Nieces. Daughters. So #grateful 💜#internationalwomensday - Priscilla Shirer

 

Leaders Around the World

"When women miss out on careers, education or opportunities because of the system that they live in, we all suffer." - Megan Markle, Duchess of Sussex.

To commemorate International Women's Day, Meghan Markle participated in a panel on feminism and women's empowerment organized by the Queen's Commonwealth Trust. The Duchess was joined by five other leaders to discuss women's rights and issues: musician Annie Lennox, model Adwoa Aboah, former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, Let Us Learn founder Chrisann Jarrett, and Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) executive director Angeline Murimirwa. Anne McElvoy, senior editor of The Economist, moderated the conversation.

Bias Correct

Unconscious gender bias fuels the gender gap. Visit https://catalyst.org/biascorrect/ to find the tools to become a catalyst for change.

Imani Collective

Imani Collective empowers women in Kenya through employment and educational opportunities. Watch this video to learn more about their story.

Women Are Superheroes

From Shera to Captain Marvel, here are some the wonder women who make us live out our superpowers every day.

Black Girl Magic

According to Google Trends, more than ever the world is searching for “black girl magic” — an empowering phrase that celebrates the achievements, beauty and irrepressibility of Black women and girls. The women featured in the film include icons, barrier-breakers and everyday heroes, including Simone Biles, Issa Rae, and Serena Williams.

Bishop Vashti McKenzie speaking at Black Enterprise’s Women of Power Summit

Bishop Vashti McKenzie speaking at Black Enterprise’s Women of Power Summit

Founder Yolande Morris at BE’s Women of Power Summit — click the link for the official recap.

Founder Yolande Morris at BE’s Women of Power Summit — click the link for the official recap.

Women Making History: April Tam

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by Megan Montgomery

Have you ever met someone who challenged you in the best of ways?  Someone who made you want to give more, love people deeper, and live for something beyond yourself? 

April Tam Smith is that type of person, a person whose radical giving, passion for empowering people, and infectious joy made me walk away from our encounter deeply reflecting on how to give more.

April credits her parents with instilling a strong sense of gratitude in her, as well as the responsibility to pay it forward.  When her mom was 11 years old, her mom was working in a clothing factory in Hong Kong to provide for her family.  When April was 11 years old, her family immigrated to the US where April eventually had the opportunity to attend MIT, then get her MBA at Columbia and start a career in investment banking.

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April then started volunteering at a number of charities in NYC helping survivors of human trafficking, the formerly incarcerated and the homeless, as well as serving with charities abroad in Haiti and South Africa and kept hearing the same thing from everyone, “I just want a job.”  She also had a friend now turned business partner who saw her passion for giving and a number of causes and suggested that they start a small business to fund all these causes that she was so passionate about. 

With no prior restaurant experience, April took him up on the idea and decided to start a restaurant that would create meaningful work for people who need a job while donating 100 percent of the restaurant’s profits to charity.  She also decided to make the restaurant vegan to provide food that was good for both the environment and the body and P.S. Kitchen opened its doors in August 2017.   Located in the heart of Times Square, after less than two years of existence, P.S. Kitchen was recently named one of the top vegan restaurants in New York City while providing jobs for more than 40 people in need of a second chance. 

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 “We can’t control the circumstances or family we are born to, but we are all called to share the time, talent, and resources we have to help others,” says April. “If we all sat down to a family-style dinner and I got a huge plate of food and you got two tomatoes, of course I would say you should have some of mine. It’s up to each of us to give generously and when you give generously God surprises you because it’s really all His anyway, so you can be bold in really stretching yourself in giving.” 

It’s up to each of us to give generously and when you give generously God surprises you because it’s really all His anyway.
— April Tam

April still works full time in investment banking and both her and her partner don’t take any salary from the restaurant.  She is also still active in volunteering for a number of other non-profits.  When I asked her how she does it all, she explained that it’s really the joy and passion of it that keeps her going.  “If it was out of a sense of obligation, it would get old really fast,” April says. “When you really get to know the people you are serving, they move from being statistics to real people.  That motivates me to work even harder at my day job so that I can earn more so that I can give away more.” 

April is very diligent with scheduling her time to fit in everything and shared that it is so easy to waste your time, money and resources if you’re not careful.  As busy as she is, she’s never too busy to pray. “You get so much more productivity when you take the time to pray and invite God into the situation,” says April. “When you try and do things on your own without seeking His guidance, then you can easily waste your time like a hamster in a wheel.  God can be so creative with both time and money.”   

April has big dreams about continuing to empower others both in the U.S. and abroad and encourages everyone to challenge themselves through radical giving.  “Start investing in others even if you are starting off small and  then continue to deepen your giving and experience the joy of what giving in a radical way that’s scary and others-centered can do,” April says.  

P.S. Kitchen’s Approach

P.S. Kitchen’s Approach

Watch Asian American Life’s video profile of P.S. Kitchen here.