Each Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. This week, we are thrilled to introduce Belinda Wisdom.
Belinda, tell us about your ministry journey, the places and ways you have been serving and are serving.
My ministry journey started in Maryland when the Lord ordered my steps to go to North Carolina. I didn’t want to go to North Carolina. In fact, I actually stayed on 85 South and went to Atlanta because I knew a lot of people from my home state (New York) in Atlanta. The Lord would not let me stay in Atlanta. All of the signs and messages kept pointing me back to North Carolina. I did not know why it was necessary for me to go, but I finally surrendered and went to North Carolina.
It was after I arrived that the Lord revealed His plans to me – that He was giving me a job and that I was going to seminary. God revealed to me during my second year of seminary at Shaw Divinity School that God was calling me to preach and engage in missions. I thought seminary was just a part of my faith walk and a strengthening of my spiritual journey with the Creator of the universe. Of course, I retreated saying, “Surely you can’t be serious, Lord.” I am an introvert, and I have always had an immense fear of public speaking and standing in front of an audience. But, God was serious and now here I am an associate minister of mission and prayer at my church, First Baptist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina. I also preach the word of God in state and federal prisons, lead group visits to the elderly in nursing homes, and lead and coordinate mission trips to Haiti and Puerto Rico. I am always looking for opportunities to do mission activity because mission work also provides an opportunity to share the good news of the gospel – salvation in Christ Jesus.
What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
My greatest source of joy in ministry is the gift and unction of the Holy Spirit. I praise God daily for the ability to discern its voice. I love following its guidance as I prepare to preach God’s word and delving into the study, research and meditation required. I love how God is dealing with me first when He puts a scripture and sermon in my spirit. I have exceeding joy knowing that it is by God’s grace and power, that I am able to stand up in front of congregations and serve as a messenger, bringing His word to His people.
I enjoy reaching out to the marginalized and underserved populations, traveling and doing mission work. It’s easy to prepare care packages or give money to international organizations. But when you “go”, people see love, compassion, and hope because we bring the love of Jesus Christ with us.
What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?
My greatest challenge in ministry is getting people to truly understand what “mission” is and educating the church on this subject matter. There are many “in-house” activities that have no impact beyond the four walls of the church in reaching people and pointing them to Jesus Christ. The church does not want to “go out”. My desire is that we strive to be a New Testament church and that our hearts be tenderized and filled with love and compassion for others. I continue to hope for the day when “we have all things in common” (Acts 4:32-37).
Another challenge I face is time management. It can get a bit crazy when you work full-time and are doing ministry at the same time. The demands of work, church, and home can take its toll. Yet, God is faithful even in this as I have turned to Him for help and His response has freed me from the burden of feeling that I must be at every church-related meeting, class, or event. So now, I can turn my focus on carrying out a very important God-given assignment–working on a book that will glorify Him; and in the Lord’s words to me will “encourage, comfort, strengthen, and instill a desire in the reader to delve deeper in the word of God, open their heart to receive the love of God, continue to transform into the image of God, and to go beyond the veil to experience all of God”.
What advice would you give to a teenage girl who is discerning a call to ministry?
My advice would be to follow the call; pray about the call; fast on the call and; trust God with the call. Our first inclination is to run when being called into ministry. It is a great responsibility and heavy charge. However, God equips us to carry out this humbling assignment. Age is irrelevant when doing the will of God. What is relevant is a willing and obedient spirit. I would advise the teenager to share this call with her pastor or youth minister so that he/she can continue to pray with and for her, offer guidance and support, and mentor her through the process. I can say that I have been incredibly blessed with an extraordinary pastor and mentor who supports women in ministry (Rev. Dr. Dumas A. Harshaw, Jr.). Dr. Harshaw has helped me throughout my acclimation as a new minister and also being new in the Baptist tradition/faith. (Side note: I was raised Catholic. Dr. Harshaw has truly helped me to polish up the rough edges and is a model of what the character of a preacher/leader looks like.)
We all have been created with one purpose – to serve and obey God. It is important that we share the joy and excitement of serving God in ministry and be supportive of our youth who God is getting ready to use for His purpose.