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2012-12-03 issue:

Questions to women leaders - Kim Vu Friesen

by Kim Vu Friesen

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Kim Vu Friesen served on Mennonite Central Committee Central States board, MCC U.S. board, MCC binational board and the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board. Currently she serves on Mennonite Church USA Leadership Discernment Committee.

Do/did you have a woman leader as mentor? If so, how does/did she help you?
My mentors were a missionary couple in Vietnam, Rev. and Mrs. Paul Contento, who worked among us high school and college students. They taught us Scriptures and gave us leadership opportunities. I did not have a woman leader as a mentor, yet I appreciate women leaders who displayed skills that served as models to me throughout my adult life.

Are you mentoring a young woman who may be a potential church leader?

In years past, I had opportunities to train and encourage youth in the Taiwanese and the Vietnamese churches toward serving in leadership roles. Most of those relationships were not formal mentorships but more through Bible studies, fellowship, counseling and friendship. Currently I seek out and enjoy opportunities to talk with young women in affirming their gifts and talents to be potential church leaders.

If so, how is their experience the same/different from yours?
I see similarities in that just as I was affirmed in my gifts and taught to follow God’s nudging to serve in leadership roles. Younger women whom I have befriended and tapped on their shoulders had stepped up and followed God’s call to serve as women pastors and church leaders.

What impediments have you faced in becoming a leader?
In the 1980s, during my years serving in leadership roles in Taiwan, I found it awkward to be the only one or one of two women serving in boards predominantly made up of males. In more recent years, I found myself facing a big learning curve as one who needed to familiarize myself with the complex organizational structures of the church, as well as a person of color trying to navigate my way in predominantly white/majority boards with the dominant culture’s ways of decision making and doing board business.

When you face challenges as a leader, what encourages you?
When faced with challenges, I am encouraged by affirmations and by the kindness and patience from those who helped orient me and answered my questions. I am reminded that Jesus’ body consists of people from all tribes and nations as described in Revelation 5:9-10. Jesus is building and equipping his body, and I want to contribute and help accomplish his purpose.

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