This is an official Freedom to Lead newsletter for Michelle Sessoms.
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Dear Friends,
Last month I alluded to the fact that I would soon make “The Great Reveal” to unveil what God has laid in front of me and my team. Are you ready for it? This is a game changer, friends. This will set the course for the next ten years in ministry. And I would love for you to join me!
I have loved working with Freedom to Lead these past three years. I simply can’t imagine doing anything else.  Freedom to Lead is a cutting edge ministry with a great product, one that does not hang on the shelf of theory and idealism, but one that has been tried and tested with boots on the ground among truly indigenous peoples. There is no question that people are being impacted to lead their churches in a Christ-centered way. We call our organization “Freedom to Lead” not just because it’s a catchy title. We gave it this name because we want to give men – and women – the freedom to lead in order to reach their highest Kingdom potential.  Jesus came to set all of us free in our lives and ministry.
I live and work in the world that is global church leadership. As a woman I am limited; as an unmarried woman without children, even more so. But, how can I maximize the freedom I have in Christ, not just in terms of my salvation, but also in terms of my life and leadership? Better yet, how can I encourage other women in the same way? As we study scripture, we see how women like Esther, Deborah, and Mary influenced others, pointing them to God, and helping them walk in His purposes. I can’t change the world, but I can be an influencer of it. And I CAN get very excited about the opportunity in front of us!
Christ is transforming the leadership of ministries all throughout the Indian subcontinent and Africa through Freedom to Lead.  In the meantime, we have these women. These courageous, determined women with a heart for Jesus. These are my heroes of the faith. Some, while walking five miles every day to get water, are telling stories of Jesus along the way. Other women are those who lead prayer movements, oftentimes secretly, getting on their knees before God on behalf of the nations around them. There are women who lead house churches, run radio programs, work in clinics, and speak real hope to a suffering generation. I met a woman who is what I imagine Ruth was like back in her day. I see other women who I imagine are a lot like Abigail, or Tabitha, or Hannah. These are all very different women who have been uniquely called by God to influence their worlds. However, the reality is that these women are vastly under-resourced. They are under-resourced because yes, they may not read or are not comfortable functioning in a literate world. But, perhaps even more so, they are under-resourced simply because they are women.
This is what Freedom to Lead’s President, Rick Sessoms says: “Women comprise at least half of the Christian population, and women ministry leaders are often available and teachable. Women are generally attracted to storycentric learning methods, and will have an increasingly significant influence worldwide in the years ahead. We believe that Freedom to Lead’s curriculum can fulfill a major need to develop women in storycentric communities to fulfill context-appropriate roles as effective, Christ-centered leaders.”
When people in the church talk about leadership, the conversation defaults to the topic of headship. I get it, I really do. However, when we in Freedom to Lead talk about leadership we are not talking about position, or authority for that matter. We’re talking about influence. In fact, the very core of our entire program is about influence rather than power and authority, common ownership rather than one person’s vision, prioritizing highest kingdom potential rather than production, and relationships rather than results. We are not talking about usurping the role of men in the church. Neither are we talking about headship in the context of a marriage. We are talking about women being influencers in our communities with Jesus as the ultimate example. It can’t get more transformational than that.
So, here is the Great Reveal: Freedom to Lead is starting a brand new initiative, one that is specifically for women.
To say this is exciting for us is an understatement. But, how do we even begin? Where do we go? How do we help women who live in storycentric oral cultures and learn best through story, symbol, and song in a way that involves more than handing them a book to read or a one-time seminar to attend?  How do we develop (not merely train) and mentor these women through a four-year program and walk with them as they transfer all this to other women, also in story form?  It just hasn't been done before.
As the one appointed to facilitate this women’s initiative for Freedom to Lead, I am learning that the best way to move forward with this kind of thing is to surround myself with people much smarter than me.  I have a small team of women – and men – who are walking this road with me. Their life experiences cover many years and their ministry experiences cover many contexts. But what really compels them to also take this leap of faith is their own love for Jesus and desire to see women throughout the world engage with what it means to be a leader. I am reminded of the quote, “Never doubt that a small group of dedicated individuals can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Better yet, I am reminded of Jesus’ words when he says, “My grace is sufficient.”
But even before I surround myself with this team, we must, must, MUST begin with PRAYER. Will you please pray with me? I do not insert prayer as a tagline or a postscript. I mean praying perhaps like we’ve never prayed before. I want us to be praying to the point that our hearts are overflowing with love for these women, and we see them developed to their highest potential. I’d like to form prayer groups of women – and men – to intercede on these issues. I’d like to have a month of daily prayer focus specifically on this initiative. I want to connect with people through all that internet technology has available to us to form prayer groups across geographic lines. I want you to invite your church small groups to set aside time to pray for this and to be educated in these issues. Will you join me? Will you invite your friends to your home so I can share this new initiative with them?
There will be more details about this program in my next letter, but for now I am asking you to pray.
Consecrate yourselves, friends, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.
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