Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry features a fabulous minister on this blog. Today, we are pleased to interview Laura Foushee. Laura IS what a minister looks like! 

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

I began to discern a call to ministry during my freshman year at North Carolina State University, though in hindsight a seed had been planted years earlier as a teenager. My home church, Ridge Road Baptist in Raleigh, had nurtured me since I was child and helped me recognize my love for the church and my desire for congregations to be healthy communities of faith. After being offered experience in ministry leadership there, as well as several summers working for Passport Camps, I decided my junior year to accept a call to ministry and made plans to attend seminary after a year off of college.

That led me to McAfee School of Theology, where I continued to put my energy into gaining experience for service in the local church. I also had a part-time job in the admissions office, where I got to know and eventually started dating my future husband, Carson. Upon graduation, I moved to Macon, Georgia, where I served for three years as the associate coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia.  

Carson and I married in 2011, and shortly after began considering serving outside of the United States, as Carson had felt called to international missions. In 2013, we were commissioned as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel to serve through English ministries in two local congregations in west-central Japan, which we felt was a beautiful combination of both our callings. In 2017, we moved to Tokyo to pursue two years of full-time Japanese language study, and we are currently putting our language skills into practice in a congregational setting. Our future long-term assignment is still being discerned with local partners, but we are excited to begin new roles in our second language.  

In March, Carson and I also welcomed our daughter, Ada, into our family and we have enjoyed learning about parenthood and the ways it has deepened our connections with people in our church and community.

What have been your greatest sources of joy in ministry? 

Though I always wanted to be open to where God was calling me, I never quite envisioned spending my career, or even part of my career, abroad. Being able to do so with Carson has been a source of joy as we have found a place where we can serve together even though we describe our callings quite differently. 

I have also found great joy in building relationships with people from diverse backgrounds. The first church we served in Japan was a collection of people from Japan, North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. I have learned so much more about the rich diversity of God’s creation through my friends who share different backgrounds, life experiences, and native languages. Now that we are learning in a predominantly Japanese congregation, I’m grateful for the opportunity to deepen my understanding of the work of the church from a different cultural perspective.

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

I had confidence in, or at least a deep understanding of, my calling and my abilities before I came to Japan, but here it sometimes feels like I’ve started from zero. My calling and abilities always seem filtered through cultural limitations: “I have this gift, but can I use it with my current Japanese level?” or “how can I use my gifts as an international in Japan?” In some ways, as muddy as my calling feels most days, I’ve had the challenge of embracing the idea of a calling of presence or being, rather than doing.  That is an extremely difficult concept for me as an American who has often measured my ability and worth by what I do rather than who I am.

What is the best ministry advice you have received?     

It’s been offered in a variety of ways but is simply “be flexible.” Be flexible with yourself, with others, with a situation, with your expectations. It comes naturally to some people, but not always for me as a Type-A perfectionist. However, when I attempt to be flexible and let go of my to-do list or my insecurities, I usually find that I can slow down and be more present with others and am reminded that God shows up even when something doesn’t go as planned.