Servant Leaders in Action: Ministry & Missions
Former Hope Student Co-Founds Women's Ministry
Like many people in the Christian community, Lisa Jernigan and Patty Wyatt saw a need that was going unmet and felt that someone should do something about it. In 2000 they decided to found an organization focused on serving and empowering what they consider to be an overlooked and underutilized group in the church: women.
“When it comes to church, some high-capacity women find the corporate world will let them use their gifts, but the Church won’t,” said Jernigan in an interview with the Christian Standard. Jernigan, a former student (1976-1978) at Hope International University (HIU) and whose husband, Cal (BA, 1978), and son, Jeremy (BA 2006), graduated from HIU, and Wyatt started a group called GirlfriendIt, which is focused on changing women’s attitudes towards themselves, discovering how to dialogue and how to use their spiritual gifts, find and understand their sphere of influence, and apply their faith.
“God is calling women forward in relationships and purpose to complete the body of Christ,” Jernigan said. “We are especially drawn [to] and passionate about the younger generation and encouraging them. They have so much to offer and the Church needs to be pouring into them as they are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but are significant leaders today!”
The name GirlfriendIt is meant to take away the increasingly common notion of women’s ministry as something stuffy or boring. “We have women who hike for a cause, or quilt for nursing homes, and everything we do leads to the next thing,” Jernigan said in the Christian Standard. “We don’t just put something on the calendar to fill a space.” Both Jernigan and Wyatt emphasized that people are comfortable, gifted, and skilled in different areas so a good ministry will use those strengths to their advantage. In the Christian Standard, Wyatt said, “It’s women rallying women to do the remarkable.”
One of the main areas of focus for GirlfriendIt is helping women get out of the commercial sex industry. To that end, the group has formed a strip club ministry and partnered with an organization called Streetlight PHX to help eradicate sex slavery. When GirlfriendIt ministers to the women in strip clubs, they bring cupcakes with them to hand out, something Jernigan and Wyatt believe helps all of the group’s members to be a part of the ministry in a way that is comfortable for them. Some women might not want to go into the strip club, but would love to bake, while others would rather hand out the cupcakes and not have to bake. Allowing them to do one without requiring the other helps keep everyone involved and a part of the ministry, which both women point out is the whole purpose.
“It is easy for women to not value their voice and life,” Jernigan said. “As women, so many times we fail to recognize and understand our worth and that God gave us each gifts, talents, personalities, and life experiences to use to impact others and usher them into the presence of God.”