Each Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. This week, we’re thrilled to introduce Dezo Desauguste.

Dezo, tell us about your ministry journey, the places and ways you have been serving and are serving?
I was born and raised in Haiti. Before I moved to the United States, I worked as assistant coordinator for the Women’s Association of the Haiti Baptist Convention. I also hosted and translated for American Baptist teams on mission trips to Haiti.

I currently serve as co-pastor at First Baptist Church of Kansas City, Missouri. I began this position on November 1, 2017. I was an intern at this church during my seminary years, where I was assigned to a wide variety of responsibilities covering all aspects of church life which included working as a children’s leader for two years. One summer, I worked in Deborah House in Tijuana, Mexico with women who have been abused, helping build up their self-esteem.

I have also been serving as a missional worker with international young adults studying in the area near our church. This allows me to help the international students to integrate into the American culture, because I know from my own experience what the students are going through. When I first came to the United States as a student, I recall my own desire to understand and learn more about the American culture. Together, we plan several different activities — Bible study, mission opportunities, weekly fellowship that includes visiting local sights, restaurants, concerts, road trips, canoeing and camping. We share cultural struggles, differences, and understandings of Christianity. Most of these students are from India, but others are from Nepal, Vietnam, Jamaica, and Japan. This has been a powerful experience integrating these students into the life of our church. Some of them are Christian in background, but others are not, and we offer them a warm and accepting place.

What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?
My greatest sources of joy in ministry have been the relationships formed among the people I work with and the people I serve. My congregation has an amazing diversity of nationality, background, race, language, age, and gender. Shepherding this diverse flock of God has given me a deep sense of peace and joy. Ministry allows me to share the grace, love, and forgiveness that I have received from our Lord Jesus Christ and allows me to be the instrument of healing and transformation for people around the world.

What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?
While most of the people in my life been supportive of me as a woman in ministry, there have been a few who did not understand that God calls all persons, no matter their age or gender. My personal struggle while serving in the United States has been my accent. I can be insecure about my accent because English is not my first language. As a preacher and a public speaker, I always want to speak clearly so everyone understands me. On the other hand, God never ceases to amaze me. I serve a congregation that has a lot of older native English speakers, and many using hearing aids, but they always understand my sermons. It is always humbling when they come to me after service to talk about the topic that I preached on. That is the work of the Holy Spirit.

What advice would you give to a teenage girl who is discerning a call to ministry?
My advice to a teenage girl who is discerning a call to ministry is to never let anyone look down on you. God can use simple, ordinary people or whomever God wants to further God’s purposes. There will be people who will tell you that you are not old enough, not strong enough, not smart enough, or not experienced enough. There will be those telling you that you are not the right gender. There will always be people to criticize you when you are doing something that is not traditional. Please, do not let their voices overwhelm the voice of God. Stay focused!
In my experience, the majority of my friends, my mentors, and my congregation have been eagerly on board with my call to pastoral ministry. There have been a few solitary voices of people who will not affirm my call. I heard God’s call to ministry through my mentors, friends, and church. I have been blessed with mentors who are honest with me. They have shared both joys and challenges they face in ministry. I would encourage a teenage girl who is discerning her call to find mentors and connect with people who have already been in ministry. Listen for the voice of God through those who know and have watched you. Ministry is not about you, it is about God.