Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry features a fabulous minister on this blog. This Friday we are pleased to introduce Genetta Williams. Genetta IS what a minister looks like! 

Genetta, tell us about your ministry journey and the places and ways you have served and are serving.

As a minister, one must be prepared to look beyond the walls of the church as well as outside the realms of our traditional Sunday morning and mid-week services. Not all ministry opportunities enter one’s calendar. As an associate minister at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, I am grateful to have experienced ministry opportunities in scheduled and impromptu situations.

I have served in hospital ministry, addressing the needs of families whose loved one has a serious illness or just lost the battle with a terminal illness. Ministry is reassuring a family of God’s love as they seek ways of adjusting to their loss. It is being the presence of God, crying with or wiping the tears, listening and allowing them to share their hurt, disappointment, frustration, confusion, and even their anger when their prayer for healing and restoration becomes a transition to forever be with the Lord.  It is sitting in silence, gently holding a hand or allowing one to pour out their tears on your shoulder.

Other areas of ministry I have continued to serve since graduation from Campbell University Divinity School (CUDS, 2017) and the Union Missionary Baptist Association Ordination Academy (2017) are preaching for morning worship service and special annual days (Woman’s Day, Missionary Day, and Youth Day) at my local church as well as churches within our association. I have also been the officiating minister for a home going celebration inclusive of preaching the eulogy and doing the committal rites.

Within our local congregation, my administrative and organizational skills are utilized in developing and teaching lessons for our Wednesday Night Adult Bible Study class. Occasionally, I assist our pastor in leading worship service. Currently, I also teach Sunday School and serve as president of our Missionary Department where we collaborate with a local elementary school. We have donated and packaged a three-month supply of meals for fifty students in their “backpack food program,” which ensured underprivileged children having enough food on weekends and holidays when school cafeteria meals are not available. We also prepared migrant worker hygiene and food kits.

Aside from church related ministry, I personally serve my family and community youth, young adults, and seniors in understanding scripture, spiritual growth and guidance, special prayer concerns, supporting special milestones in their life, and hospital and home visitations.

Until a couple months ago, my scope of ministry extended to our Woman’s Baptist Home and Foreign Missionary Convention of North Carolina (WBHFMC) where I submitted youth (ages birth to twenty years) devotional readings for publication in their quarterly devotional guide, The Missionary Helper. I continue to serve on the nominating committee of the WBHFMC and additionally as one of the certified institute instructors. Within our Union Missionary Baptist Association, I serve as chair of the scholarship committee and co-chair of the budget committee for the Woman’s Baptist Home and Foreign Missionary Auxiliary.

‘This is What a Minister Looks Like’ may encompasses me wearing my clergy robe,  a tailored suit with clergy collar, casual dress or pants suit, relaxing skirt and top, blue jeans, jogging suit or other active sports attire. It is not the outfit I have on but the condition of my heart and my daily walk as I minister to the people the Lord places in my path. As ministers and ambassadors for Christ, we adapt to the occasion and allow the message of the Gospel to be the focal point. I try to live the Colossians 3:23-24 principle of joyfully doing my best for the Lord.

What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry?

For me, some of my greatest sources of joy are witnessing the baptism of young people with whom I have shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When teaching Sunday School and Bible Study, it is receiving feedback of how teaching scripture instills within them a desire to know more about God and Christian living and gives them confidence to share their faith with others. It is also experiencing the joy of seeing family members grow stronger in their faith through challenges and encouraging them to remain steadfast. Most of all, I think it is being obedient in doing what God has led me to do even when I did not know nor understand why. This is significant for me because it has helped me in discerning different ways God speaks to me.

What have been the greatest challenges you have encountered in ministry?             

One of my challenges is probably the same as most women in ministry – gender bias. I have seen men in ministry selected for preaching and teaching opportunities that I feel I was just as qualified to do but not given the opportunity. While this is disheartening to observe and experience, I have accepted my call and my determination is steadfast. Licensed to preach in April 2006, it was not until 2017 that I received a recommendation to attend our Union Missionary Baptist Association Ordination Academy.

Most recently, my challenges have been more personal, my health, and family loss. A few weeks after receiving the 2017 Addie Davis Award for Outstanding Leadership in Pastoral Ministry (June), my brother-in-law transitioned to be with the Lord. He had accompanied me to Georgia to receive the award and was my ministry and prayer partner. His sudden death was certainly shocking. Four months later (November), my mother, whom I served as principal caretaker, was hospitalized. While at her bedside, I had a heart attack. My severity of blockage required stent placement that resulted in complications leading to a DVT and pseudo aneurysm in my right leg. Although I had sisters who came home to be with Momma, I had to deal with my feelings of inadequacy because I was not there for her as I had been in the past. My prayer was for our quick healing and restoration. However, that was not the will of God. Both of our hospitalizations were longer than anticipated, and the healing process more intense. My Momma transitioned to be with the Lord in January 2018. Strength for journey, oh yes I needed to feel His presence and know that through all the physical and emotional pain, the Lord was still directing my path and holding me tight.

I had taught bereavement seminars, shared with others in their dark moments of grief, and now I faced my moment of, “Will you continue to trust Me?” Through much prayer, family love, and support, I now have physical and emotional restoration. I must admit, however, that out of all I knew to do in handling grief, a turning factor in my healing was recognizing and seeking the assistance of others. I am grateful to one of the leaders of the Christian-based organization of Stephen Ministries at a church in our community. There, I received much needed guidance handling my different stages of grief. As ministers, we know what and how to do but there are times when we too need the assistance of others in handling tragedies and obstacles that shake the very foundation of our faith. From individual mentorship to mass leadership, I have experienced growth through many challenges and levels of responsibility. I still stand firm in recalling some of the words of Roger Fields in his affirmation to youth ministry (The Calling), believing ministry is: “too serious to be taken lightly, too urgent to be postponed, too vital to be ignored, too relevant to be overlooked, too significant to be trivialized, too eternal to be fleeting, and too passionate to be quenched.”

What is the best ministry advice you have received?

My Momma always had words of encouragement for us, and as I continue in ministry, I still hear her voice saying, “You do your part, do what the Lord told you to do.” “Keep on praying.” “The Lord is gonna work it out.” No matter what I may experience, I have seen the Lord work out many situations and I am therefore confident in trusting Him even when I cannot readily see the bigger scope of things. I could probably summarize it in one word–PERSEVERE!