Each Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. This week, we’re thrilled to introduce Karen Yee.
Karen, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.
I began my ministry as an active lay leader at the First Chinese Baptist Church of San Francisco where I served in various leadership roles and found many women role models. I never thought I couldn’t be a minister, but I didn’t want to be one. I told God that I didn’t want to be a pastor or a teacher. I went on to be a public school teacher for eight years before going to seminary to become a pastor. I served at the First Baptist Church of Alameda, California for seventeen years as their first Associate Pastor in 120 years. Presently, I am serving as the associate pastor of New Life Christian Fellowship in Castro Valley and the English speaking pastor of the Iu-Mien Friendship Baptist Church in Richmond, California. I am the first non-Mien and first woman to serve as a pastor in any Mien church. I have also had the opportunity to preach and teach at various regional and national events and serve on various committees and boards.
What are the greatest challenges you have faced in ministry?
Perhaps realizing that despite the opportunities that I have been given, there are still ways that women are not respected as ministers. During a time of conflict, some of the women in the church took the side of the other pastor because he was a man. They said, “He can’t be lying, he’s a pastor!” Yet, they failed to believe the same about what I was saying, even though I was also a pastor. I was not seen as the “real” pastor even though I had done everything and had served them faithfully. At the end of the day, old beliefs and traditions overruled their experiences.
What do you love best about your current ministry?
Being used by God to reveal God’s love and grace in the world by moving God’s people towards more compassion and acts of justice. To preach the Word and bring hope and healing, and to help individuals discover and become the person God created them to be. I love to watch God’s Spirit reconcile and transform lives and this world that we live in.
What ministry advice would you give to a teenage girl?
Follow the call and passion that God has given you. God is able to do far more than we can ask or even imagine. Remember that there are many ways to minister—use your gifts and don’t be afraid to step out and be surprised by what God will do.