Our Daughters Are Watching

Christian Latina Leadership Institute

By Anyra Cano

Para leer en español haga clic aquí.

For more than 20 years, my mother was a preschool teacher. She loved teaching, she especially enjoyed watching her students play in the drama station. She would watch the children act out what they observed at home. She could learn much about a child’s family in the way the children played and interacted with others. 

I also grew up watching, that is watching my mom, from whom I learned so much. What I am today is due in large part to what I observed of my mom. She passed away 8 months ago, and while the grief journey has been a difficult one, I am constantly being reminded of all I learned from her. I want to share with you a little of who my mom is and some of the leadership lessons that I learned from her. 

My mom was a very strong person, I do not recall her giving up, no matter the challenges she encountered. She was born in Sonora, Mexico and came to the USA at the beginning of her young adult life, when she married my father. She also became a mother of four children at a very young age.

When my mom came to this country, she had only a high school diploma (which was not accepted in USA), and did not speak any English. As a mother of four very young children, she knew that she needed to become educated in order to prepare herself to live in this country. So, she quickly enrolled and graduated from ESL and GED courses and later continued with college. She was so resourceful, she frequently asked questions and inquired about opportunities to grow. 

There were times when my mom could not find childcare, instead of giving up she would take my siblings and I to the college with her and make it a fun, playful adventure for us, while we waited in the hallways. As we waited, we would pretend we were in college, we would look through college catalogs and dream of the classes we would each take. My favorite part of going to college as a small child was the library, helping her find resources and playing pretend librarians and students. She spoke about her education with great enthusiasm and joy, no matter the difficulty of the assignment.

I also remember the car she drove for college; the reverse did not workso she would look for the furthest parking spaces where she could park without the need of reversing. My dad was the janitor of a local Baptist church, so money wasn’t abundant, but she persisted and found scholarships and grants. Many times, she was frowned upon, looked down on because of her accent and criticized for going to college having young children.  No matter what, she knew what she wanted and what she needed to do. Eventually, she completed her college education in Early Childhood Education/Development, and taught Preschool for more than 20 years. 

Another great thing about my mom, was how she encouraged other women to become educated. She guided and inspired many of her students’ moms to also get an education and they too became teachers. 

Throughout my childhood my mom suffered with many health issues and faced difficult circumstances at home, yet she modeled for us perseverance and faith. I cannot remember my mom ever giving up on anything. She thought the best of herself, affirming that she could do anything, and go anywhere. If she did not know how to do something, she found a way to learn how to do whatever she put her mind to. 

One of my mom’s greatest joys was serving at her church. She used all of her training and education in teaching, and used it for the benefit of the church. She would seek local resources to help fund the activities where she served. She did not allow her many health issues and disabilities stop her from serving.

After several major strokes and other life-threatening problems, she kept persevering and serving with the children at her church. In fact, in the summer of 2018, she directed and taught her church’s vacation bible school from a wheelchair. No matter the obstacles she remained faithful to her commitments.

Anyra’s mom with children after VBS at her church.

My mom had all of the obstacles you can imagine for someone not to succeed in life, but those did not stop her. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13) was her life verse. It served as her motivation to persevere. Through this verse, she was reminded of the struggles that the apostle Paul had, and how he continued serving Christ. Through his many challenges, he was determined to draw strength from Christ to keep doing what God had called him to do. 

My mom’s example taught me that leadership does not come without its challenges, opposition, sicknesses, criticism and other complications, but if we follow God’s will, we can persist. 

Due to space constraints, I cannot share all about who my mom is and did, but my earliest and most significant leadership lessons were modeled by her. I have been watching her and learning how to become a leader. Even now, I try to look back to remember how she grieved my grandmother’s death, and learn how to live this journey as she did. 

Today, we have many young ladies and girls watching us. Our nieces, daughters, granddaughters, and church children are learning from how we lead, face challenges, excel, and persevere. They observe how we interact with others and how we live out our faith. 

One of the many blessings of CLLI is that, while I am no longer a child and my mom is no longer physically here for me to watch, I have other Latinas leaders whom I have the privilege to observe and learn from. Similar to what I found in my mom, CLLI is a network of Latina leaders who are ready to share their wisdom, encourage us to persist, pray for us, and guide us to resources that will help us grow.

I hope that one day the young women and girls who watch me will also be able to share the many ways I modeled leadership to them. 

We are being watched; may we lead faithfully. 

Anyra Cano (on the left), is the Academic Coordinator of the Christian Latina Leadership Institute, Youth Minister at Iglesia Bautista Victoria en Cristo in Fort Worth, TX and Coordinator for the Texas Baptist Women in Ministry.  

Categories: Blog

What’s Your “Word”?

Christian Latina Leadership Institute

By Margarita Garcia

Para leer en español haga clic aquí.

Has anyone come up to you asking about your “word” for the year? You’re probably thinking, “What do you mean ‘your word’? I have goals and dreams, but a ‘word’?” Yes. Many people have what they call their “word” for the year. 

In the past few months I have thought about what my “word” could be, but that is a tough decision for me. I like them all! Whenever I think of one particular word that speaks to one area of my life and could represent who I am, I can come up with ten others that speak to other areas. Not to mention that this word is not meant to stick with you for a very long time, but it is supposed to change as you grow and life changes for you. However, the purpose of having a word is to help you stay focused on who you are and where you are heading as of now. 

So here is my word, Resilient. Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties; in other words, to be tough. As I meditate on my leadership journey, I think of the joy I feel when I walk alongside other women in their journey to discover God’s wonderful plan for them. However, I cannot ignore the challenges and difficulties that become part of my daily walk. I celebrate victories, yes, but many do not come until I overcome the trials, big or small, the fears, the challenging emotions, and all the limitations and obstacles that teach me and shape me into the person that God created me to be. 

Sometimes, as Christian leaders, we need more answers, we need to wait a little longer, to talk a little more, or to trust a little deeper. Sometimes we ought to be a little tougher and recover a little faster. We often do those things, not easily but naturally, because that is who God created us to be. Does this mean that we are not allowed to slow down, be humans and grieve like everyone else? Are we supposed to toughen up and keep going non-stop? Absolutely not! We grieve, some days more than others. We get tired. We regret not always having answers. And we get emotional, too. Yet, as Christians we approach all our struggles differently. The Bible says that we face our struggles not like the world but like those who have put their trust in the Lord (1 Thess. 4:13). 

To be resilient means to find the hope embedded in Christ. This hope comes from trusting that God is in control. It comes from living in God’s love and the assurance that God loved us first. It comes from forgiving and forgetting not because we are better than the rest but because we are forgiven by God and God forgets our transgressions. God never stops working His will in us, and it is in this process of finding hope that God shows us His grace. Peter was reminded, “The God of all grace…will restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10). Paul was reminded of the sufficiency of God’s grace, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). 

If knowing about God’s grace does not give us hope, I don’t know what will. Scripture reminds me that it’s not about my victories, my weaknesses, my struggles, nor my grief. It is about God’s grace made perfect in me and the hope that I find in knowing that God will make me resilient for the journey ahead. Resilient leaders rely on the word of God for what is ahead. We find power in the Word and we claim God’s promises because we know them. We dive deep into it, study it, meditate on it and live it because that is where the answers are found. We talk about it because it speaks life, and when challenges approach we hang on to it for direction and wisdom. 

However, resilience does not happen on its own; it does not come out of nowhere or by chance. You strive for it. God provides people and organizations who are willing to invest and grow with you, but you must get on board. For me it is Christian Latina Leadership Institute. CLLI empowers me to live my word. It promotes growth in me spiritually, intellectually and culturally. As a Latina Leader I am constantly challenged in my journey to seek God more, learn more, and serve more. This is who I am. The journey as a Latina Leader is not to seek the type of leadership that the world portrays demanding power and control at the expense of others. The journey is meant to make a difference in others, and to make you strive for the things that honor God. 

We have power only because it comes from the Holy Spirit who gives us courage to speak life (Acts 1:8), from God who teaches us to love well (John 3:16), and from the Son who leads us to give fearlessly just as He gave His life for us (1 Timothy 2:6). About control, oh well, those of us who rely on the Lord know that God leads every step of the way and does God’s perfect will. Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.” 

What you see in my leadership as a Latina woman is the impact of those who invest in my life and who entrust me to continue the legacy before us. It is not power and control. It is resilience. It is the power of God’s grace active in my life to recover quickly and be tough. It is a genuine desire to continue to be obedient to the calling that God has placed in me, and an eagerness to make a difference in the lives of those I walk alongside. 

What is your “word”?  

Margarita Garcia serves as the Bilingual Facilitator/Parent Liaison for the Kaufman Independent School District. She also serves as the CLLI East Texas Coordinator and will graduate from CLLI in May 2020.

Categories: Blog

By Nora O. Lozano

Para leer en español haga clic aquí.

It is a new year, and there is much to celebrate, be thankful for, and hope for.

To start, I want to celebrate the CLLI blog’s first anniversary. Thanks to the good work of all the monthly writers, the editorial committee, the translators, as well as our blog coordinator and publisher, Anyra Cano, we are completing one year of publications. We are also very grateful for you, our faithful readers. Thank you for reading the blog every month. I hope that during this past year your life as a Christian leader was enriched by each one of the published pieces.

As we start our second year of publication, the blog will deal with different topics that are pertinent to the life of the Christian woman leader. We invite you to continue reading the blog every month. We trust that you will be blessed, encouraged, and challenged as you continue your journey as a leader.

In addition to the blog’s anniversary, we are thankful for many other things. The CLLI trainings continue with great success, helping to develop many Christian women leaders here in United States and in Mexico. The CLLI donors and friends continue giving generously to help us achieve our goal of transforming women’s lives in the name of Christ. The CLLI faculty, coordinators, and staff continue working diligently to serve all of our students in the different sites, while the Board continues to oversee and guide the CLLI ministry. I am so thankful for all these people who play a vital role in the life of the Institute. They are indeed a gift from God!

Furthermore, we are looking at the future with much hope. This is the year that the CLLI Board will be charting, together with the staff, the new strategic plan that will guide the CLLI course over the next five years. We are excited about this process, and we cherish your prayers as we discern God’s will and plans for the CLLI.   

I hope that you have welcomed also the New Year with much celebration, gratitude, and hope.

I invite you to celebrate and be thankful for the small and big things in your life. Take a moment to remember the things that we often take for granted, such as health, shelter, work, clean water, food, clothes, family, and the presence of God in our lives.

By the time this blog is published, it will be almost the end of January. Perhaps at this point in the year, many of us are facing broken New Year resolutions, and are frustrated with our lack of commitment. 

Regardless of your situation, I want to invite you to continue to look at the New Year with a sense of hope. While our yearly resolutions may be broken, I encourage you to make new plans— perhaps monthly or weekly resolutions— that may be more easily achievable and will keep you motivated. If we set a weekly goal, and we break it, very soon it will be Monday again, and we will have a new chance to start again.

Since our lives are very diverse, I am assuming that our goals for 2020 most likely are also very different. However, I am reminded of John Maxwell’s affirmation that a good leader must first learn to lead herself or himself. 

As you learn to lead, ask yourself what areas of your life you need to change? What do you need to improve in order to “be a truly effective leader, the kind people want to follow” (John Maxwell, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, p. ix)?

While this personal work is important, I want to invite you also to keep working on the most important foundation of your life: your relationship with God.

Psalm one offers good advice to establish a solid foundation for life. In verses 1-3, the Psalmist invites us to delight and meditate constantly in God’s Word, and to stay away from bad companions and evil doers. These actions will lead us to be blessed persons, indeed. The Bible compares this blessed person to a strong tree that is planted by steams of water, yielding fruit in its season, and without losing any leaves. This kind of person is prosperous in everything that she or he does. 

Regardless if you are facing any particular challenges right now, any good leader always has room for growth and development. May this Psalm inspire you in the New Year to anchor your life in God’s word and in the good actions that will come from this relationship. May it inspire you to become the leader that God wants you to be, and that people would want to follow.

And as you grow and develop this year, please remember that the CLLI is here to help you in your development as a leader. So let’s pray for each other as we continue with our leadership journeys, and let’s support each other as we pursue God’s plan for our lives.  

The year 2020 is still young, and thus a blank slate. Under God’s blessings, let’s make it a prosperous and blessed one! May it be so!

Dr. Nora O. Lozano is Executive Director of the Christian Latina Leadership Institute, and Professor of Theological Studies at Baptist University of the Américas in San Antonio, TX.

Categories: Blog

SISTERHOOD AND TEARS

Christian Latina Leadership Institute

By Adalia Gutiérrez Lee

Para leer en Español haga clic aquí.

I never thought that at my age it would be so difficult to talk about my sisters; not because I don’t have something to say, but because I have too many things that I could tell you. I had two sisters and both of them died; one as a baby and one at a very young age. After having lost relatives so close to me, I was able to understand the verse “for love is strong as death” (Song of Songs 8: 6, NRSV); and after my experience I even dare to say that love is stronger thandeath. Although my sisters or our loved ones may have passed away, the love and close relationships that link us to them still persist. I do not pretend to be morbid talking about death or sad things, but I also do not want to ignore that love: “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.” (1 Cor 13: 7-8 NRSV)

If we are afraid of suffering, it will be difficult to love. Even when I remember the many times I have cried for the people I love, or the many times I have cried over the loss of a loved one, I also realize that this is nothing when compared to the times that I know Jesus, and all the people who love me have cried with me! 

I remember that there was a time in which I experienced a “streak” of losses of people very close to me in a way that made me feel “contagious”. I didn’t want people to get close to me for fear of passing my “bad luck”, or having to try to find an explanation to so much suffering. I do notconsider myself a superstitious or pessimistic person, but I was having a hard time processing my loss and grief. However, I also remember how much love I experienced at those moments from the great family of God as they embraced me and cried with me! I would not have been able to move on after such losses, if God had not manifested Godself in my life through the solidarity, prayers, hugs,and tears of all my sisters and brothers who loved me.

Now that I am at another stage of my life, I do keep expressing my love through tears. Yet, I no longer try to find an explanation to suffering; I only know that when we love, we also suffer.  My life has been marked by tears of love although these tears have not only been of sadness, but tears of joy for having talked and shared precious times with my mother, sisters, sisters-in-law, cousins, daughters, nieces, and friends.

Latin American culture is well known for cultivating close relationships with the extended family; my family was no exception. I remember when my sister thanked me for living near her when she was sick as she told me: “Your presence has made such a big difference as from heaven to earth! Our daughters are not living together as cousins but as sisters, as you and I used to live and to share together.”  After she died, I have tried to continue that unity between them. There is a unique and special bond and value in friendship and love between sisters. How many times we have laughed, or cried, or even thought of the same things when we are with our sisters! How many times we have fought with them and then repented because it is not worth it for anger to prevail in our relationships!

This time of advent in our Christian calendar is also a time of waiting. A time filled with hope, peace, joy and love. We need to confess our love and to live it first as families, and also as the family of God. Particularly this year, as many countrieshave been suffering calamities, strikes, injustices, poverty, hopelessness, war,and death. Our call as a family of faith is to wait with hope, peace, joy and love.  If we are to suffer for loving, we also need to remember that these tears of love are the ones that will remind us of the love and solidarity that Jesus has for us, for them, and for our people always!

Adalia Gutiérrez Lee serves at the International Ministries as the Area Director for Iberoamerica and the Caribbean and is a part of the CLLI Board.

Categories: Blog

By Nora Silva

Para leer en Español haga clic aqui

I have always considered myself a girl’s girl. That’s because I value the women in my life and have recognized how deeply I was, and continue to be, influenced by women.  I think about many of the women who have helped exemplified that influence for me over my lifetime. I first think of my mom and her sisters and even her sisters-in-law. My aunts were and still are women I look up to. Each of them contributed to unique experiences in my upbringing. What I saw amongst them was a connectedness that was based on something that I now recognize as deep trust and real love. While I may not have understood it all then, what I observed was the encouragement through the difficult times, the celebrated accomplishments, the laughter, lots of laughter, and the consistency of it all.

 I am blessed to have four sisters. My three older sisters encouraged me and often set the stage for me to succeed and provide for me in ways that my parents at times, could not provide. My sister Cissy sent money, after she moved away and made sure I had new clothes for school. My sister Lettie set the great example of pursuing higher education and had me stay with her in the summers, giving me inspiration to do the same. My sister Doris, at seventeen, worked at a local fast food restaurant and used her hard earned money to enroll me in gymnastics because she knew I loved the sport and my parents would not be able to pay for it. She also made sure I was in church on Sundays with her.  All of them provided opportunities and options in my life. They worked hard to extend the boundaries of my experiences so I could go beyond where they had gone. My youngest sister Anna did not have this role in my life early on. I adored her as a baby but she became a nuisance to me, the little sister I had to take with me everywhere I went. As adults though, she has become one of my best friends.

Each of my sisters had, and continues to have, a unique impact in my life. Cissy with her sweetness and patience evokes peace in me. Lettie brings out the fighter in me. Doris demonstrated obedience to God and brought out the surrender in me. My youngest sister Anna, taught me that while I looked up to some women, there were others looking up to me. These experiences contributed to who I am as a person and who I am as sister in the greater picture of life. Because of geographic distance, I don’t get to see my sisters often enough but similar to what I saw with my aunts and my mom, the trust and the love is deep, real and constant.

Fortunately for me, sisterhood does not end with my biological sisters. One of the strongest characteristics of the women I call sisters, is the willingness to stand alongside me in the fight. I have been blessed with women who after disagreeing with any one of my decisions and consequences that resulted, have said, “How can I help, you are not alone.”  I have been blessed with women who after hearing my struggles say, “Head up, God’s got you”. I have been blessed with women who may not be saying anything at all but pray for me and with me. This is sisterhood. To come alongside other women and lift them up, hold them up and walk with them especially when they are struggling to keep their balance under the weight of this thing called life. 

My experience with CLLI has been this type of journey. I have met some amazing women who have done just what I described. They have stood alongside me, encouraged me and prayed for me. It is in this circle that God’s calling for me began to be highlighted. I joined CLLI as a faculty member and then board member. Like many of us, I felt unqualified to be serving in this capacity, not because I didn’t have the skills to teach my subject matter, that was the easy part. Rather I felt unqualified before God. I thought somehow it was a mistake that I was part of the amazing work God was doing through CLLI. It was here though, where women who I admired and looked up to, showed me that God was calling me to something special. More importantly is through this sisterhood experience that I was reminded that on my own, I am not qualified but with God, I have all I need to step in God’s purpose for me. 

Like the women who were the first to see the empty tomb, I am surrounded by women who are caring, committed, loyal, faithful, and over all go-getters. I can imagine the sadness and loss they were experiencing but working through that together to do what was needed. I am sure they encouraged each other through the waves of grief they must have felt. In their commitment, to God and each other, they got to experience the amazing truth of Jesus’ resurrection together (Luke 24:1-12; Matthew 28:1-10; John 20:11-18). How amazing when God allows us to experience sisterhood in such a way that our lives are forever changed and the stories we share will tell of God’s love through the women God sent 

Nora Silva is the Executive Pastor of Mosaic Church of San Antonio and a faculty member for Christian Latina Leadership Institute. She also serves as the Chair for the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas.

Categories: Blog

By Zoricelis Davila

Para leer en Español haga clic aqui

Recently I read a post on social media that said, “talking to your best friend is sometimes all the therapy you need.” I have to admit that as a therapist I know the therapeutic value of going to counseling to address issues that can only be managed with a professional. Nonetheless, in leadership and at CLLI we have experienced a therapeutic bond of a beautiful sisterhood. As Christian Latina leaders, sometimes we face many challenges such as discrimination, cultural expectations, stereotypes, and many others. These challenges present themselves with potential discouragement to continue in leadership or pressure to conform to cultural and societal norms. In times like these, we turn to our sisterhood for support, prayer, encouragement, and guidance. Those wonderful, godly, extraordinary friends and colleagues in ministry who have walked this journey before us, and/or with us.

This sisterhood is more than just a group of friends in leadership together; it is a group of godly, passionate, tenacious, compassionate and hardworking women doing ministry together. We have become more than just colleagues in ministry, we have become sisters in leadership. In psychology and counseling, there is a term called familismo referring to a cultural value that emphasizes close, warm, caring, loving, supportive family relationships.[i] The term also prioritizes family over self and it has been associated with contributing to psychological and emotional health. When we face challenges in ministry we take a hold of this value of familismo to stand firm together to support each other in the work of the Lord. 

Being in leadership together means that we are always finding new ways to help other women in ministry. We plan conferences, retreats, seminars, and many other avenues to empower other Christian women leaders, Latinas and Latinas-at-heart. We share common struggles, give each other ideas, support each other during our challenges and encourage each other to achieve our highest potentials. We are all different, but we all share the same Christian values.

We have been there for each other during the loss of loved ones, academic journeys, weddings, anniversaries, births, new jobs, change of jobs, retirements, and many more life-events–all while doing ministry and being leaders in our respective areas. We have cried together, laughed together and admonished each other in love when it was necessary. In doing so we have become more effective leaders. Leadership cannot be done alone, it is a community effort. There is no way that we could have achieved all we have in this ministry had it not been for The Lord and the bond of this sisterhood called CLLI. We are more than a sisterhood, it’s a partnership, a support system, mentorship network, and a seed-bed of leaders, scholars, ministers, and collaborators in the work of the Lord.

In an era where women in leadership have been questioned or criticized, we have a sisterhood of Christian women leaders, Latinas and Latinas-at-heart, who are bonded together for the sake of Christ to make his name known. Our vision is Empowered women in leadership impacting the world from a Christian perspective. Together, we motivate each other to continue our journeys as leaders, working in our respective congregations supporting the ministry of the church to accomplish the Great Commission.

In the bible, we see a beautiful bond of sisterhood in Elizabeth and Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:39-45). Both were given the beautiful ministry of being mothers to Jesus, our Savior, and John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus. At the moment that Mary was given the news of her new role, she visited her cousin Elizabeth who was six months pregnant with John. I believe that Mary needed the support of Elizabeth in a time where she must have been overwhelmed with the task at hand amid the cultural expectations. Their encounter was an affirmation from God for both that they needed to support each other in their respective ministries of motherhood.

Personally, God brought CLLI to my life in a time when I was entering a new area of leadership as a professional counselor. CLLI was my “Elizabeth.” Although I have always been a leader in my church, this time God was calling me into a broader ministry beyond the walls of my church. God used CLLI to open doors to publish books for our Latino community to bring healing to families. God also used this ministry to develop my leadership skills as a board member, faculty, and mentor. Then God called me to achieve a doctorate and continue to empower other leaders through the counseling ministry. I could not have accomplished any of this had it not been for the therapeutic bond of the sisterhood of CLLI in my life. These ladies have all been “Elizabeth” to me.

Leadership can be difficult at times, but it can also bring much joy. God can take you to arenas never explored before and God could be calling you right now into an area of leadership in ministry that may seem overwhelming. Please know, God never intends for us to go through life or ministry alone. God surrounds us with a sisterhood that can empower us, support us, bring healing and refreshment to encourage us in our journey. At CLLI we have a special bond that has carried us in moments of trials, suffering, challenges, joy, and many accomplishments. We would have never been able to do it by ourselves. Come join us and be a part of this wonderful bond of sisterhood in leadership. There is no other group that I would rather do ministry with than my sisters at CLLI, being together is therapeutic. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).


[i]Campos, B., Ullman, J. B., Aguilera, A., & Dunkel Schetter, C. (2014). Familism and psychological health: the intervening role of closeness and social support. Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0034094


Dr. Zoricelis Dávila, Ph.D., LPC-S,  is a Licensed Profesional Counselor Supervisor with 17 years of experience.  She has a private practice in Fort Worth, TX serving the Latino community.  Dr. Davila serves on the board of CLLI and as faculty member. She is also an International speaker, author, and a Professor of Counseling.

Categories: Blog

Adopted

Christian Latina Leadership Institute

By Jana Atkinson

Para leer la version en español, haga clic aquí.

I was raised as the middle child in a big group of daughters. Needless to say, sisterhood is one of the very first thingsthat I ever understood, and something I have always loved. Due to differing circumstances, a few of my sisters are adopted. My parents, out of abundant love, adjusted their lives and made sacrifices in order to address the needs of others. Although my sisters and I do not all have the same DNA, our shared experiences and conditions have forged a bond that is really important to me, and I believe has the potential to make an impact in the world. Our sisterhood is the first place in which I saw the Lord’s hands at work in my life. I have always held a very deep admiration for adoption. The adoption of my sisters is by far the most meaningful moments of my life. To me these amazing moments serve as the greatest examples of the gospel. 

As awesome as our sisterhood may be, we have not always been a picture-perfect group of siblings. The good Lord has indeed made the Atkinson sisters to be individuals who are all completely different. The differences found between the members of our group have brought forward many misunderstandings and arguments. At times, barriers have been present causing painful distance in our relationships. However, the goodness of our loving God has always overshadowed the hard times we face. I will never forget the most awe-inspiring time that the Lord’s faithfulness proved true. The Holy Spirit carried us through the toughest situation we have ever faced. 

There was at time we found ourselves in a place where one of my sisters, due to unfortunate circumstances, was not speaking to any of us. During this time, something happened to her which changed her life forever. Without hesitation or any second thoughts within one day all six of us were together picking up the pieces and embracing one another with unconditional love. It was during this season of my life that I was in the process of fully surrendering my life to the Lord. Seeing God’s faithfulness in this unbelievable situation, brought me to my knees in full surrender. This is where I began to live every day of my life living completely submitted to Him, and it was also when I fully acknowledged my calling to ministry.

 I must admit the Lord has created quite an interesting group between us. The bond my sisters and I have reminds me of a biblical truth. The dynamic of our sisterhood is an example of how God loves our differences equally.   The love that God  has for each of us is personal and incredibly beautiful. The diversity among my sisters and I compels me to praise the Lord because of the beauty of it all. While we are not the picture-perfect group of siblings, I can say we are a great representation of the body of Christ. 

We have very different gifts and roles, yet we still have one goal in mind, and that is to be the representatives of the Atkinson name and the very parents who raised all of us. It is in the same way that the different members of the body of Christ have different roles and gifts and all work to glorify the name of Jesus and represent the very God who brought us redemption (I Corinthians 12).  This is a beautiful biblical truth: no matter the circumstances surrounding our lives, because of Jesus’ sacrificial, unconditional, and undeserved love, we are all, without any doubt, members of the family of God.  It was this very unexplainable love that drew the God of the universe to come and pay the heaviest of prices so that we may be redeemed and adopted into God’s  family.

It would have been easy for my parents to offer their prayers,  provide money, or help make arrangements to improve the lives of my sisters. Instead, my mother and father chose to take on the heaviest of burdens and raise my sisters as their children. No matter the circumstances surrounding our lives, because of sacrificial and unconditional love, we have all been adopted into the family of God. So, it is my prayer for all of us to take this truth and share it with the world through the lives we live and the love we share.

During my first semester at Baptist University of the Americas, my favorite professor, Dr. Nora Lozano, invited me to be a part of the Christian Latina Leadership Institute. I have to admit that this surprised me, because I am not a Latina. However, out of deep respect for Dr. Lozano, I attended the CLLI training  and took the course the following semester. I was adopted into the CLLI family with great love and support as a Latina at heart. I have grown immensely being a part of this amazing Christ-centered community. It is with confidence that I can say, that the women who have taken me in will encourage me and push me to wholeheartedly chase after the Lord and his calling in my life. I am proud to represent my sweet savior Jesus as a Latina at heart.

Jana Atkinson is a third year CLLI student, and a senior at Baptist University of the Américas, majoring in Biblical and Theological studies. Upon graduation, she will pursue a Masters of Divinity at Logsdon Seminary. 

Categories: Blog

By Roz García

Para leer la version en español, haga clic aquí.

“I know where you live! At the house where there are always people eating at the table!”

They were my first outings as an adolescent, I was about 12 years old. I was excited to hear that the boy I flirted with knew where I lived! But I never imagined hearing him say: “At the house where there are always people eating at the table!”  I wanted to die of embarrassment!

Yes, this was our reputation in the neighborhood. 

At my parent’s house, there is a round brown table with 6 beige chairs in the kitchen. Above is a ceiling fan with a yellow bulb that cools the air on summer days and shines at night. It is located in front of a window that overlooks the garage of the house. It seems like a shop window, and at any time you can see someone sitting there reading, eating, talking, laughing. That is, and has always been, our place of reunion. I miss that table. 

I have so many memories of experiences at that table. It is a welcoming place for anybody, where they would be treated as my “sisters and brothers.” I learned to share this sense of “companionship” with anyone in my life who sits at my table. 

At our table there will be provision for my brother and sister

At this table there has never been a lack of food. My mom is a very good cook. I have never managed to cook like her, but what I did learn very well from her was to never doubt God’s provision. There would always be enough to share even if I thought there was insufficient food. Just as Jesus distributed food while he loved (and there remained plenty of leftovers in the baskets) I too can evidence his miraculous provision daily.

But Jesus said, “You feed them.” “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Or are you expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?” Luke 9:13 NLT

At our table there will be teaching moments for my brothers and sisters…

When I was a student and I returned from school, my sister and I would sit down to eat at that table while my mother asked about our day. It was a time to chat and complete our homework. The hours passed and we were still studying …

Today we continue to learn at the table while we savor our coffee, diverse conversation, and the Word of God. We are free to read, meditate, inquire about, and debate the Bible in order to learn from it on a more personal level. 

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment. Proverbs 9:10 NLT

At our table there will always be communion without discrimination for my sister and brother …

My memories of family gatherings as a child, include bickering over a seat at the “adult” table. Everyone wanted to sit there and it was funny to see additional chairs squeezed in or two people sitting on the same bench so they could be present. It was a time where all people were equal, there was no discrimination there, young, old, women or men. We were simply a “tribe”.

Today I can continue having communion at our table with all those people who want to be a part of our “tribe”, one that respects and values each person, with the understanding that diversity is God’s creation. 

There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 NLT

At our table we will be servants of my sisters and brothers …

Another memory I have, is seeing my mother making, organizing, and arranging placemats, napkins, glasses, spoons, and everything that might be needed when sitting at the table. Seeing the table all beautiful was like an invitation to sit and enjoy. She continually asked if we needed anything, if we wanted a tortilla, soup, or another taco. I felt important when Mom tended to my needs. Now when visitors come to my house, my goal is to make all those who arrive feel special. To be kind and make them comfortable. Jesus served, and he is my example. What a great blessing it is to be able to serve.

But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, Matthew 20:26 NLT   

At our table there will be inclusion for those brothers and sisters who feel lonely and need to be heard… 

At that table I shared situations that bothered me or hurt me. I heard my friends talk about their life situations, I was present when they needed to be heard… 

They knew they would be heard there, without any judgement. Sometimes I only listened to silence, and other times tothe voice of my father and mother when they disagreed with something, or to the voice of my sister giving me advice. I learned that my voice, and the voice of other people, were important. It was a table that would be inclusive of “my brother or sister” who arrive tired, weary or rejected by their family or community. This was a table that bore my yearning – a desire to help people see the hope we have in knowing Jesus. This was the table where we were able to share what God teaches us about love, life, and our values…

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 NLT

At our table there will be love and mercy for my sister and brother…

Love requires decision. In days of pain and hurt we find it hard to love … But at our table we decided to love.

Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. Hebrews 13: 1 NLT

How I miss that table! But today I have a table where I can go. Our CLLI table where we gather. A table where we live out sisterhood; and where we find love and mercy among us. It’s an inclusive table where our voice is heard loudly; a service table where we use our gifts. It’s a communion table without discrimination where we learn from one another. And above all it’s a table of bountiful provision,where we can experience what God has been doing in each one of us.

I am proud to sit at our table … It’s a table where there are always people eating . . . . eating the Word of God!

Roz Garcia, is the Coordinator of CLLI Metepec, Mexico and a 2018 graduate of Monterrey Mex.

Categories: Blog

By Monica Salinas

Para leer la version en español, haga clic aquí.

Can you imagine eleven girls between the ages of five and seventeen eating together at a round table? Anyone would think that it is a children’s birthday party, but no, that was the daily dynamic at the Salinas home.

I am number ten of eleven sisters. Growing up surrounded by them, each unique and different, was a blessing. Although I must confess that things were not always well between us, and sometimes I did not appreciate the gift that God had given me. As in all families, due to various factors or circumstances, tensions sometimes occurred between us.

In my case, I had difficulty relating to one of my older sisters. The differences in age and painful circumstances were factors that caused these difficulties. Additionally, my sister was not a believer, therefore our values ​​and way of thinking were very different. As a result, our relationship was very distant for years. I kept myself distant from her because of resentment for things in the past. Although I was not the only one with whom my sister had difficulties, I was the one who remained the most distant.

Many times, the Holy Spirit called me to seek reconciliation with my sister. And although I knew I should do it, I did not have the courage, or I did not know how to do it. Maybe you can relate to me.

As I began to pray for her, I realized that there was also much pain in her heart and that my sister and I needed each other. Little by little, God taught me how to love my sister just as she was. It wasn’t until that moment that I could leave the past behind. I gained the courage to seek her out and ask her for forgiveness. We forgave each other and since then (although we continue to have differences) we have cultivated a relationship of sisters. Now I can tell her and show her that I love her, and that I care.

I do not share this story to call attention to myself as the “perfect sister”. Instead, I intend to emphasize the fact that even though one can have biological sisters, it does not guarantee that we will interact with each other as true sisters. It takes love, humility, intentionality, and courage to get close to those who hurt us in the past, even when they are part of our own family. 

Sisterhood requires intentionality. In my country there is this saying, “leaders are not born, they are made.” I think that is also true for friendships that become sisterhoods. The bonds of love, affection, and commitment must be formed in order to unite. A sisterhood is created when we decide to be the kind of person that loves and gives. The one that chooses to remain when everyone else has left, and the one that extends her hand even when she has nothing more to give but a hand.  

That is the kind of sisterhood we find in the bible between Ruth and Naomi. Contrary to all prognosis, the relationship between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law became such that, even when there were no legal ties to unite them any longer, Ruth decided to relinquish her opportunity to return to her immediate family, and remained with Naomi. She decided to face the same fate as her mother-in-law in a strange country, although that meant that her chances of remarrying and raising a family would be reduced.

Apparently, the ties that bound Ruth and Naomi were now stronger than their initial relationship of kinship. Perhaps the difficult circumstances of life had united them more. Upon arriving in Judah, Ruth worked hard to bring her mother-in-law food to eat. Later, they made a plan so that Ruth could marry Boaz; and the story ends with her giving birth of to a son, Obed.

Although not all sisterhood stories conclude with a happy ending like this one, it is important to highlight the love and commitment that Ruth and Naomi shared. They sought the goodness in each other. Moreover, the cost Ruth was willing to pay to continue the relationship with her mother-in-law was remarkable. None of this happened by chance or because of their formal legal relationship, but because Ruth sought to become a daughter to Naomi.

Throughout our lives, God gives us the opportunity to meet people who become as close or more so than our own family members. Sometimes they come into our lives as a comfort in times of pain or need. Other times, it is up to us to show our friendship and be that “friend who is closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

Ever since I got married, I have lived far from my family. As a pastor’s wife I have also experienced loneliness in ministry. I particularly remember in 2012, being away from my country of origin and not understanding the language very well. I was going through a difficult time. Feeling very lonely, I attended my first CLLI training and there I found what I needed. In addition to receiving a great amount of affirmation from God and understanding of my call, God gave me three beautiful friends who were like sisters in times of need. My life after that experience was never the same. It was as if God had prepared a beautiful surprise that would fill my heart with hope, renew my strength, and give me clarity to understand the purpose for which God brought me here. I thank God for the blessing of being part of CLLI because this ministry, in addition to empowering and training Christian women, it provides them with appropriate space for fellowship.

It is clear that sisterhood is not just born but is purposefully made and built by taking the initiative to create spaces where the good of the other person is sought. It is in these intentional spaces where a friendship grows and flourishes, to become a beautiful, powerful, and blessed sisterhood.

Monica Salinas serves as the Administrative Associate of CLLI and is a graduate of our program.

Categories: Blog

By Becky Klein

Para leer la version en español el clic aquí.


What is sisterhood, anyway? In my experience it has been the blessing to have one or more women who share a common bond; who share confidences without assigning judgement and without violating trust; and whom provide hope and solace when encountering times of difficulty, confusion or sadness.

Over the years, I have found sisterhood in a few select instances that were, and continue to be, extremely meaningful to me.  One of those times was when I deployed in the military to the Middle East. I was one of two women who deployed from my unit.  I arrived in a strange land knowing no one but my fellow female colleague.  Soon, we not only bonded with each other; but also, with the other few women in uniform in our Tent City.  We experienced together the realities of daily military life like adjusting to out-houses and weekly showers.  We also fretted about our children and family on the other side of the world.  We were concerned with keeping up physically with our male colleagues.  We also had shared interests in our eating habits, keeping our tents tidy; and even partook in random urges like ensuring we had pretty painted toes inside our hardened military boots.  Moreover, we had to accustom ourselves to a land that segregated women in public places, limited our activities like driving and going to the gym, and forced restrictions on what we could wear when we went off base. 

None of us knew what the next day would bring given the daily scud missile alerts and threats of a chemical or biological war. Having a group of women that experienced together these pressures and anomalies was comforting.  It gave us confidence in each other and in ourselves.  The sisterhood was a safe haven from existential and external threats. 

I also have experienced sisterhood in my office.  Over ninety-percent of the people I have employed have been women.  Not because I have pre-meditated that, but because women have shown up in my orbit that happen to be the most qualified and experienced for the jobs.  Moreover, the other companies that share space in my office suite  are run by women who have also employed mostly females. Over the course of the last twelve years, this group of professional women have come together to learn from each other professionally and personally. 

For instance, last week fifteen of us gathered in the office for lunch while listening to a female author teach us about what it means for women to become financial savvy and independent. We shared stories and questions about our relationship and philosophy about money.  This topic is often difficult to discuss with our significant others, much less with officemates.  However, as a sisterhood of professionals, we felt safe in sharing sensitive conversations and personal financial worries. We left the lunch each more enriched by learning from each other’s tribulations, and wisdoms. 

Christian Latina Leadership Institute (CLLI) provides the same kind of sisterhood experience.  However, given that the foundation of CLLI is anchored in the power, grace and wisdom of the Word of God, the CLLI sisterhood is a much deeper experience.  It’s not just about having shared geographical bonds due to external threats.  It is more than coming together due to professional commonalities and goals.  

CLLI provides a network of women who walk in the Light of the Holy Spirit and exude the love of Christ—a love that is changeless regardless of circumstances, time or distance.  The sisterhood of CLLI provides a place of learning through grace and empowerment.  The sisterhood of CLLI understands that we are each eternal and a reflection of Godself. It’s not about uniting due to life’s externalities; but rather, it’s about connecting from that spot deep within ourselves that yearns to know profoundly our Creator and to share with each other God’s His purpose for us in this dimension of life. 

I hope you have had a sisterhood experience.  But more so, my prayer is that you are called to come join the sisterhood at CLLI, and grow with us as we learn to lead in the power and grace of God. 


Categories: Blog

Por Raquel Contreras

Please click here to read in English.


Una de las cosas que más disfruto de ser latina es la libertad que tenemos para llegar a la casa de nuestra familia o amistades y quedarnos conversando por horas. La sobremesa en nuestras reuniones familiares es una tradición que nos une y ayuda a disfrutar la vida y recuperar nuestra historia.

Creo que las mujeres latinas practicamos esto con mucha gracia y fuerza todo el tiempo. Cada vez que alguien llega a nuestra casa, lo primero que preguntamos es: ¿te puedo servir un vaso de agua? ¿un café? Este sentido de hospitalidad a través de la comida, por muy simple que sea, trae una relación de acercamiento que produce un fuerte sentido de hermandad.

En mi país, Chile, tenemos una frase entre mujeres, que a todas nos hace mucho sentido: “Conversémonos un café”. Eso quiere decir, sentémonos, tomemos un café y hablemos de la vida. Practiquemos la amistad.

Este sentido de amistad (hermandad) en torno a la mesa es una realidad muy presente en la vida de la mujer latina. Es interesante que, aunque tengamos trabajos fuertes que requieren de mucha diligencia de nuestra parte, aunque usamos nuestra mente para cálculos matemáticos o para tomar decisiones trascendentes para otras personas o en empresas, nos sentamos en la mesa con nuestras amigas y conversamos de las cosas simples de la vida. ¿Cómo haces tú los chiles rellenos? ¿Dónde compras tu ropa? ¿A qué jugabas cuando eras niña? 

La mesa de la mujer latina es un espacio que llenamos con nuestro sentido de hermandad, de amistad, de aprender la una de la otra.

Me encanta pensar que Jesús practicaba esto siempre. Lo vemos sentado a la mesa de las personas que no tenían muy buena reputación pasando un rato alegre, lo vemos sirviendo el desayuno para sus amigos después de que ellos pasaron una larga noche trabajando, lo vemos dando de comer a más de cinco mil personas cansadas que había invitado a seguirle, y especialmente lo vemos dando instrucciones para que lo recuerden cada vez que tomamos el vino y comemos el pan. ¡Qué hermoso! La mesa y lo que sucedía en torno a ella era algo vital para Jesús y sus amigos. 

Y no podemos dejar de reconocer que las primeras personas cristianas vivieron y experimentaron esto a plenitud, cuando vemos lo que describe Hechos 2:46,47.  “…participaban de la comida con alegría y con sencillez de corazón, alabando a Dios y teniendo el favor de todo el pueblo”. RVA 2015

Ese sentido de “alegría y sencillez de corazón” es hermoso para mí, digno de ser imitado. Nuestro sentido de hermandad siempre debe traer a nuestras vidas alegría, esa alegría de vivir que sólo nos trae la gracia de Dios. Y más todavía, nuestra hermandad debe ser inclusiva, alegre, compasiva, de alabanza a Dios. 

Me emociona pensar que nuestra hermandad debe ser una invitación a formar parte de nuestros núcleos, de tal manera que también podamos tener favor con todas las personas. Porque como dice la parte final del versículo 47 “Y el Señor añadía diariamente a su númerolos que habían de ser salvos.” En otras palabras, nosotras nos ocupamos de disfrutar la amistad, disfrutar la compañía de las demás personas, (en torno a la mesa comiendo chiles rellenos con queso) y el Señor se encarga del evangelismo.

¡Que bendición es ser latina y poder disfrutar la vida de esta manera!


By Raquel Contreras

Para leer la version en español, haga clic aquí.


As a Latina, one of the things that I enjoy the most about visiting friends or family in their homes is feeling so welcomed and free to stay over and talk for hours.  The after-dinner fellowship in our gatherings is a tradition that unites us and helps us enjoy life together and reminisce about our history.

I believe that Latinas always practice this with great grace and strength. Every time someone comes to our home, the first thing we ask is: “Can I serve you a glass of water or coffee? This sense of hospitality through food, however simple this offer may be, brings about a closeness to our relationships, and produces a strong sense of sisterhood.

In my country, Chile, we have a phrase among women, which makes a lot of sense to us: “Conversémonos un café” – “Let’s talk a coffee”. That means, let’s sit down, have a coffee and talk about life. Let’s practice friendship.

This sense of friendship (sisterhood) around the table is a very present reality in the life of Latinas. Some of us may have hard jobs that require a lot of diligence on our part.  And some of us may use our mind for mathematical calculations or to make transformative decisions for other people or for companies; Yet we relish sitting at the table with our friends and talk about the simple things of life: How do you make chiles rellenos (stuffed peppers)? Where do you buy your clothes? What did you play when you were a girl?

The dining table of a Latina is a space that we fill with our sense of sisterhood, of friendship, and a place where we learn from one another.

I love thinking that Jesus always practiced this. We see him sitting at the table with people who did not have a very good reputation and having a good time.  We see him serving breakfast for his friends after they spent a long night working.  We see him feeding more than five thousand tired people that he had invited to follow him.  We especially observe him giving special instructions to remember him every time we drink the wine and eat of the bread. How beautiful! The table and what was happening around it, was of great importance for Jesus and his friends.

Acts 2:46-47 reminds us how the early Christians lived and experienced this fully, “Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.” (HCSB)

That sense of “joy and humbleness of heart” is beautiful for me, worthy of being imitated. Our sense of sisterhood must always bring joy to our lives—a joy to live that can only come from the Grace of God in us. Furthermore, the humbleness of our hearts should influence our sisterhood to be inclusive, cheerful, compassionate, and a praise to God.

I get excited to think that our sisterhood is an invitation to be part of the different circles we belong to, so that we can also have favor with all people. The final part of Acts 2 verse 47 affirms, “And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.” In other words, if we take care of communing with our friends and others (eating “chiles rellenos with cheese” around the table), the Lord will take care of evangelism.

What a blessing it is to be a Latina and to be able to enjoy life this way!   

Raquel Contreras is the general director of Editorial Mundo Hispano in El Paso, TX. She serves on the Board of Directors of CLLI.


Categories: Blog

The Strength of Sisterhood

Christian Latina Leadership Institute

By Patty Villarreal, LMSW

Para leer la version en español, haga clic aquí.

The word strength conjures up images of power and confidence. God provides people, women and men, who cross our path with strength which maximizes our God-given potential. Power and confidence give us courage to pursue an action towards our dream.

As women we sometimes tend to gravitate more towards other women, our sisters. In my case, similar to Alicia Zorzoli, who wrote last month’s blog, I did not have blood sisters. Growing up, I was envious of my female friends who had sisters. I watched those special bonds between them. They always had a companion when they went places. They shared intimate secrets and protected each other. Yes, they fought but what siblings don’t. I always wondered what it was like to have a sister.

By the grace of God, He gave me lots of “sisters” when I became a Christian. Immediately, I inherited a world of hermanas (sisters). I have the privilege of sharing special bonds with many of these “sisters”. I have hermanas who I confide in and they confide in me, who protect me and I protect them. I have hermanas who walk with me in my relationship with Christ and I walk with them to live life more abundantly. My life is blessed with my hermanas.

My dream and strong desire has always been to encourage the best in others. In my years as a leader and in my profession of social work, I come across people who aren’t aware of their gifts and talents. I encounter those who lack self-confidence, and the limited perception of themselves hinders their ability to see how valuable they are to God. 

My life mission includes “elimating barriers that hinder God-given potential in children and their families”. The Lord has allowed and guided me to do that in the lives of individuals, families, churches, and in systems. Thankfully, I didn’t do this in isolation. I am often a part of a group of colleagues, or a community who is working on ways to eliminate those barriers for families, and many times I am doing this alongside of my hermanas.

This is a blessing in itself! However, the extra blessing comes when I walk this journey with other believers. Often, it is with and through my hermanas who come from the same framework and understanding of Christ’s love for us and others. Mis hermanas bring a Christ-like perspective in the work of encouragement and elimination of barriers. Often times, it’s a learning process for women of God who are seeking God’s will together.

The Christian Latina Leadership Institute (CLLI) was birthed that way. From the desire and vision to bring out the best in others and in communities. The seed of the CLLI began in collaboration with a like-minded sister, Dr. Nora Lozano. Through the beginning of a friendship and sisterhood, two Latina leaders in the Fall of 2005 began to dream and fashion a movement to help other Latina leaders maximize their God-given potential. God used divine conversations, our networks, and encouragement of each other as Dr. Lozano and I traveled the journey together to create and develop the CLLI. 

We did not do this alone, in these last 14 years, God has led friends, advisors and faculty to work with us. 

The initial concept of CLLI has now matured into a non-profit, an executive director, and a CLLI board that now lead the organization. We not only teach Latinas but also Latinas-at-heart, from whom we also learn. They are gifted women who always bless us as we continue to fine-tune the Institute.

My friendship and sisterhood with Nora Lozano continues to grow in ways beyond our ties with the Christian Latina Leadership Institute. I came across this quote from Sabrina Newby, CEO and founder of the Coastal, Georgia Minority Chamber, which describes our relationship:

“I’m proud of her; she’s proud of me. There is no competition animosity, envy, or jealousy. We’re just secure, confident women doing our thing while supporting each other. I call that a SiSTARship and it is the essence of a Smart Woman Achieving Greatness. (SWAG).”

SiSTARship is a program which empowers women to lead. I pray that those reading this blog have a SiSTARship type of relationship with others – “confident women doing our thing while supporting each other”. 

I believe that it is almost impossible to be the best that you can be if you are not a part of a community of hermanas. This sisterhood is a divine gift from God. A sisterhood is made up of women who are connected by genetics or by their faith in Christ, who are ready and able to walk alongside you, build you up, share confidences, and protect you. 

The Bible speaks wisely about the importance of living and serving in community: “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10  This passage goes on to say, “Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecc. 4:11-12.  The power of community is certainly important in the Bible. 

If you are blessed to have a SiSTARship community around you, give thanks to God, and keep nurturing it. If you do not have one, pray for a community of sisters.  Take initiative and start being a good sister to other women, and eventually, with God’s blessing, you will enjoy the riches of having an hermana or a community of hermanas surround you. 

At the CLLI, we strive to be this community of leaders –a SiSTARship– that encourages each other in the journey of leadership.  As we continue offering training at different sites, please consider joining us and becoming part of this community that bonds together to achieve excellence in God.

Patty Villarreal LMSW, is the Co-Founder of the Christian Latina Leadership Institute, and Adjunct professor at the Baptist University of the Américas.

Categories: Blog

By Alicia Zorzoli

March 2019

Para leer la versión en español haga clic aquí.

I don’t have a sister. I have two brothers whom I love with all my heart, but I would have loved to have a sister. I would have loved someone to play and argue with, someone to share my secrets, dreams, and clothes.  I would have loved someone to talk to about the boy I liked from school.  

And I have realized I am not the only one who feels this way. Recently I have witnessed an amazing experience. A member of our weekly women’s Bible Study group received a very special gift last Christmas: the kit to learn about her DNA. This was very special for her as she had been adopted as a little child and, therefore, knew nothing about her biological family. The test results showed that she has a half-sister! Both of them contacted each other, and last week they finally met. It was quite a sight to see them together! They couldn’t separate themselves; my friend’s new sister shared her testimony saying that all her life she had been longing for a sister. And now God had fulfilled her dream.

In my case, at the right time both my brothers got married and gave me the best imaginable present: my sisters-in-law whom I love as true sisters. Although we live very far apart from each other, I can spend hours talking with them and we enjoy it tremendously.

These two examples can be described in just one word: sisterhood. The Webster Dictionary defines sisterhood as “the solidarity of women based on shared conditions, experiences, or concerns.” The effect of this sense of sisterhood can be seen either between just two women or among a whole group. And the impact resulting in the lives of the individuals can be tremendous, especially with us women. Be it a sisterhood related by blood or by affinity, the influence among two or many can be very powerful.

There is a foundational element in the sisterhood DNA. Be it a sisterhood of two or a group, each one maintains her own distinctive characteristics; however, there is a point of contact that brings them together. It has to be something that connects them. That could be kinship, common interests, similar likes,or vocations. In my case, the connection with my sisters-in-law was not by kinship, but through the union of two families. In the case of my friend, the point of contact was blood when both discovered that they were daughters of the same father.

I find an example of this in Luke 8:1-3. Luke portrays a group of women disciples of Jesus. They joined Jesus and the twelve apostles traveling “from one town and village to another” (v. 1), learning from the Master and serving Him “out of their own means” (v. 3). We have the names of three of these women: Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna. But Luke mentions there were “many others” (v. 3). These women were very different from each other. Some had been physically healed; others were liberated from evil spirits. Some, as Joanna, belonged to a high class on the social scale; others were from the general public. Each one of them had their own particular history before encountering Jesus. But finding the Master and experiencing His powerful action on each of them was their “contact point”; it was their connection; it was what established their sisterhood. The Bible commentary, El Comentario Bíblico Mundo Hispano, expresses this bond very clearly by saying that “they had been equally pardoned.”

It is hard to imagine such a group of women walking together, covering mile after mile for days, months and even years, and not seeing them talking with each other. They probably didn’t know each other at first, but I am sure that not too much time passed before they each started to introduce themselves, asking for their names and sharing how they had come to be Jesus’ disciples. This is also part of our DNA as women! So, we can clearly see in this picture “the solidarity of women based on shared conditions, experiences, or concerns” which, according to the Dictionary, is the definition of sisterhood.

I would like to translate this New Testament sisterhood example to a present time similar situation of which I am honored to be a part. I am talking about Christian Latina Leadership Institute (CLLI). It is a three-year academic program whose main purpose is to empower Christian Latina (or Latina at heart) leaders to be agents of transformation in the micro- or macrocosms in which they find themselves. Throughout its more than 13 years of existence, CLLI has been the meeting place of Christian leaders who not only received academic instruction to be the best leaders in their field, but also received role models from instructors and fellow classmates. They also received the benefit of influence and shared experiences among themselves. 

A few days ago, I met one of my former CLLI students. Her name is Ana Castellano Jiménez. She shared with me that it was CLLI who pushed her to continue her education after graduating from the university. Already married, with three children and with the difficulty that English is not her native language, she decided to strive for a master’s degree. The result? Not one but two Masters, one in Christian Ministry and the other in Christian Counseling. But Ana’s story doesn’t stop there. She is currently working towards her PhD in Education. Ana recognizes CLLI as the impulse God used for encouraging her to advance in her studies in order to be the best Christian leader in her field and make an influence that leaves a mark in many lives.

Yes, it is true that I did not have the sister I longed for when I was a child. But when I look back, I can see that God did compensate my desire by making my cup overflow with a superabundance of “sisters.” First, God gave me my sisters-in-law. Then, He gave me an army of women whom I have personally met in more than 50 countries all around the world. Their bond of friendship and affection continue making a strong impact in my life and more recently through CLLI. And this is exactly what sisterhood is all about!

Alicia Zorzoli is a Bible teacher and international lecturer, she has published numerous articles in Christian magazines and books. For more than ten years she has been a part of the CLLI faculty.

Categories: Blog

By Anyra Cano

Para leer la versión en español haga clic aquí.

Eighteen years ago, my life was in a slimy pit of mud and mire. I had experienced a season of both emotional and physical trauma. I was longing for a community to help me out of the pain I found myself in. God was good and provided me a network of people that inspired, challenged, encouraged, and prayed for me. Through each of them,  God worked to restore my life.  This experience has taught me the invaluable lesson of mentorship and sisterhood.

I am grateful for several wise women in my life who took the time to listen and to encourage me. Their wisdom and mentorship helped me to restore my trust in God and to discover a new path toward Him. 

The sisterhood and mentorship that I found in different women remind me about the biblical story of Ruth. Naomi and Ruth, who were not related by blood, developed a strong mother-in-law/daughter-in-law bond that led both to a place of safety and security. It is a beautiful story of two women who had endured great sorrow and pain, were left vulnerable, and then together journeyed to Naomi’s home country. In that journey, Naomi becomes a mentor for Ruth, who trustingly submits to Naomi’s suggestions.

Just as Ruth found her mentor, Naomi, during a time of loss, I found my mentor while also experiencing profound sadness.  Her name is Alicia Zorzoli. I call her “Hermana (sister) Alicia”, out of respect and honor. She is not my biological sister, rather my sister in Christ.  

I met Hermana Alicia in El Paso, in a small Hispanic Baptist church where she was a leader. As I was about to leave for San Antonio to prepare for vocational ministry, I remember sharing with Hermana Alicia how unworthy I felt about going to college. Her powerful and compassionate response has been implanted in my heart and mind over the last 18 years: “You do not need to be ashamed, instead look at what you went through as a part of the schooling God has for you to serve in ministry. What you went through will help you minister to others in similar situations.” 

After college, I lost contact with Hermana Alicia, but her wise words remained with me and continued to guide me.  Her wisdom resonated so deeply in my soul that they have become the blueprint of my ministry. And eventually, Hermana Alicia’s prophecy became reality in my life, when I also became a mentor. That day I learned that God would redeem my story and transform it into one that would become a gateway for others to also experience God’s mercy and unconditional love.

About nine years ago, God brought a 16-year-old girl into my life—Itzayana. She became a member of the church where I am the youth minister. Itzayana was shy and quiet, but she loved to learn and serve. We grew a special sisterhood bond and I began to mentor her in several areas of ministry and leadership. I would recruit her to volunteer alongside me and I would take her with me to meetings or trainings in which I was participating. 

In high school, Itzayana worked diligently as she desired to get scholarships for college and had made big plans to go to the university of her dreams. Unfortunately, she was not eligible for any of those scholarships. Itzayana felt completely disappointed and defeated. Many underlining issues and fears had resurfaced. I remember her many phone calls to me, her distraught voice filled with lament. 

As Hermana Alicia had encouraged me, I also encouraged Itzayana. Eventually, she attended the Baptist University of the Americas (BUA) and obtained a degree in Business Leadership. She graduated in less than three years from BUA, and this coming May she will be graduating with her master’s degree in Business Administration.  

Our bond of sisterhood and mentorship has allowed me to see this young lady develop into a strong leader who is respected and dearly loved by many in our community. She brings me great joy and admiration.  She has become a leader in the church.  Itzayana has grown so much in her ministry, that I believe she can run the church on her very own.

Hermana Alicia and I have now reconnected after 10 years. She is a member and leader of the church where I serve. In this new season of life and ministry, she continues to be a significant mentor who loves me, grows alongside with me, listens to me, shares wisdom, and cheers me on. Recently, she wrote a bible study book titled “God, This Was Not In My Plans”. In her book, she shares about the pain she endured in life, and how those moments have prepared her for what she is today. 

While Naomi was enduring great grief, she was also developing and mentoring a leader in Ruth, whose offspring would one day include our Savior, Jesus Christ. Hermana Alicia, who knew about pain and sorrow, mentored me, and today I have the privilege to lead and mentor many young people, like Itzayana, to live out God’s purpose in their lives.  

While mentorship and sisterhood can sometimes be born out of difficult circumstances, this journey brings wisdom, guidance, resources, joy, and hope for the future. Similar to Naomi, Ruth, Alicia, Itzayana and me, God invites us to mentor and be mentored by people of faith and wisdom who are all part of God’s redemption story.

I am grateful for my journey. Even though it has been painful, God has placed the right mentors in my life at just the right times. And since I received freely from the previous generation, I also want to give freely to the next generation.

To mentor and to be mentored are true gifts, indeed! If you want to experience this gift, please consider joining us join us at the Christian Latina Leadership Institute where you will find spiritual, academic, business, non-profit ministry, and life mentors who are willing to invest in your journey no matter where you find yourself. 

Anyra Cano is the Academic Coordinator of the Christian Latina Leadership Institute, Youth Minister at Iglesia Bautista Victoria en Cristo in Fort Worth, TX and Coordinator for the Texas Baptist Women in Ministry.  

Categories: Blog

By Nora O. Lozano

Para leer la versión en español haga clic aquí.

I am delighted to introduce the new blog of the Christian Latina Leadership Institute (CLLI), entitled: “Tú, yo, nosotras” (You, I, Us). The purpose of this blog is twofold. First, it is designed to stimulate creative academic thinking and conversations regarding topics that are relevant to women in leadership, Latinas and Latinas-at-heart. These thematic essays will be published once a month. Second, additional pieces will be published as needed in order to highlight significant events in the Institute’s life. 

The blog will be centered on a yearly general theme, and will be published in both, English and Spanish.

As the CLLI board and staff discussed this new project, the topic of sisterhood became a favorite one for this year. The reason is that since the beginning the CLLI trainings have been a space where significant relationships among women leaders have been created, nurtured, and developed, as women have engaged in deep, transformative conversations. These relationships have crossed boundaries of race, age, language, stages of life, educational levels, and ministerial callings. 

At times, these conversations have been painful and difficult as we have discussed as a group or individually significant topics that were deemed, at the moment, as matters of life and death. 

But in all of these conversations, we have found a sense of new life and renewal because God is in our midst. The God of hope, who sees the complete horizon of our lives, is the one leading us.  And, even though we may not see clearly at the moment, God offers a light, even a small one, to help us to move forward.  

My hope is that this blog will be an additional space where these deep, transformative conversations and sisterly relationships continue to flourish in order to enrich our relationship with God and with each other.

As I write this, I am reminded of two biblical women who held important conversations as both shared a special kind of sisterhood due to a common circumstance and faith: Elizabeth and Mary. 

The beginning of Luke’s Gospel narrates the stories of these two women. Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah were righteous people, who followed all of God’s commandments and regulations. However, in spite of their faithfulness, they were childless because Elizabeth was barren. This situation was hard for both of them, but especially for Elizabeth. At that time, one of the primary roles of women was to have children, and it was considered a disgrace to be unable to do so. Since they were up in age, they had lost hope of overcoming this situation. 

To their surprise, they experienced a miracle from God as Elizabeth finally conceived a baby. This woman who had experienced pain, shame and criticism due to her condition as a barren woman, now was experiencing God’s grace and mercy. 

In contrast, Mary was a young woman, virgin, unmarried, and completely unprepared to have a child. She is surprised, too, with a miracle as God finds her suitable to carry in her womb the world’s Savior. Her life changed forever, as she responded to the angel’s annunciation: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord: let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

Suddenly, this single woman finds herself pregnant, and with a husband-to-be who would not believe her story about her conception from the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18-19). Even though the narrative does not mention this, I imagine that her family and community did not believe her story either. Thus, most likely, she experienced much suffering, shame, and criticism due to this unexpected pregnancy. 

The Gospel continues by telling us that some days after the angel’s announcement, Mary went hurriedly to see Elizabeth. It is at this moment, when Elizabeth and Mary meet to have vital conversations. Both of them had experienced suffering, shame, and criticism due to pregnancy issues. One because under all normal circumstances she could not conceived a child, and the other one, because under the most incongruous circumstances she was expecting a child. Different circumstances, similar pain and shame, and a common God who was overseeing their stories, and offering them a sense of hope as they spend three months together, supporting and nurturing each other.  

I am sure that during this time, Elizabeth and Mary had an opportunity to share their miraculous stories over and over again. Perhaps, as they shared with each other, they found a sense of purpose and hope as they understood better how both of them and their sons were so special for God. 

These two biblical women are examples for Christians today as they model deep conversations that encourage a more robust relationship with God and with each other. 

My hope is that as we launch this blog, it will become a space where women, following Mary’s and Elizabeth’s example, can have deep conversations that will allow them to grow in their relationship with God and each other. Furthermore, I hope that it will be a space where women will find support and inspiration for their journeys as Christian leaders. Finally, I hope that here women will be encouraged to believe, like Mary, that there would be a fulfillment of God’s words/plans for their lives (Luke 1:44-45). 

I want to invite you to join us every month, as we engage with women from the past and the present in deep and transformative conversations that will strengthen us in our journeys as leaders.

Dr. Nora O. Lozano is Executive Director of the Christian Latina Leadership Institute, and Professor of Theological Studies at Baptist University of the Américas in San Antonio, TX.

Categories: Blog

Por Anyra Cano

Traducido por Alicia Zorzoli

Please click here to read in English

Mi mamá fue maestra de prescolares por más de 20 años. Le encantaba enseñar. Disfrutaba de mirar a sus estudiantes actuar en el rincón de drama cuando representaban lo que veían en la casa. Ella podía aprender mucho acerca de las familias de sus estudiantes por la manera en que representaban e interactuaban entre sí.

Yo también crecí mirando; es decir, mirando a mi mamá y aprendiendo mucho de ella. Lo que soy hoy es debido en gran parte a lo que observé de mi mamá. Ella falleció hace ocho meses y, aunque el camino del duelo ha sido difícil, puedo recordar constantemente todo lo que aprendí de ella. Quiero compartir con ustedes un poco de quién fue mi mamá y algunas de las lecciones de liderazgo que aprendí de ella.

Mi mamá fue una persona muy fuerte. No recuerdo que alguna vez se haya rendido, no importa los desafíos que enfrentó. Ella nació en Sonora, México, y vino a los Estados Unidos siendo joven, cuando se casó con mi papá. También tuvo a sus cuatro hijos a una edad muy joven.

Cuando mi mamá llegó a este país solo tenía un diploma de la escuela secundaria (que no era aceptado en este país) y no hablaba nada de inglés. Como madre de cuatro hijos sabía que necesitaba estudiar para poder prepararse para vivir en este país. De modo que enseguida se inscribió y graduó de los cursos de ESL y GED y más tarde continuó en la universidad. Era muy ingeniosa, hacía preguntas frecuentemente y quería saber de las oportunidades para progresar.

Hubo veces cuando mi mamá no podía encontrar quién nos cuidara. En vez de faltar, nos llevaba con ella a la universidad y hacía que eso fuera una aventura divertida y entretenida mientras la esperábamos en el pasillo de su sala de clase. Mientras la esperábamos jugábamos a que estábamos en la universidad, mirábamos los catálogos de esa escuela y soñábamos con las clases que íbamos a tomar. Mi parte favorita de esa experiencia era ir a la biblioteca, ayudarla a encontrar los recursos y jugar a que éramos bibliotecarios y  estudiantes. Ella nos hablaba entusiasmada y feliz acerca de su educación, no importa cuán difícil fuera su clase.

También recuerdo el auto que manejaba para asistir a las clases. La marcha atrás no funcionaba; entonces ella buscaba los espacios de estacionar más retirados donde pudiera estacionar sin tener que ir hacia atrás. Mi papá era el conserje de una iglesia Bautista local de modo que el dinero no era abundante, pero ella persistía y encontraba becas y donaciones. Muchas veces era mal vista, menospreciada debido a su acento y criticada por ir a la universidad teniendo criaturas pequeñas. A pesar de eso, ella sabía lo que quería y lo que necesitaba hacer. Finalmente completó sus estudios graduándose de Early Childhood Education/Development (Educación/Desarrollo de la Primera Infancia) y enseñó a prescolares por más de 20 años. 

Otra cosa importante acerca de mi mamá fue cómo animaba a otras mujeres a que estudiaran. Ella guio e inspiró a muchas de las madres de sus estudiantes a que ellas también estudiaran para llegar a ser maestras.

Durante mi infancia mi mamá tuvo muchos problemas de salud y enfrentó circunstancias difíciles en el hogar; sin embargo, ella nos modeló perseverancia y fe. No recuerdo que mi mamá se hubiera dado por vencida alguna vez. Ella pensó lo mejor de sí misma, afirmando que podía hacer cualquier cosa e ir a cualquier lado. Si no sabía cómo hacer algo iba a encontrar la manera de aprenderlo para poder hacer todo lo que se proponía. 

Una de las cosas que más le gustaban a mi mamá era servir en su iglesia. Ella usó todo su conocimiento y su educación en la enseñanza, y lo puso al servicio de la iglesia. Buscaba recursos locales para ayudar a solventar las actividades donde ella servía. No permitió que sus muchos problemas de salud y sus discapacidades le impidieran servir.

Después de varios derrames cerebrales serios y otros problemas de salud que amenazaban su vida, continuó perseverando y sirviendo en el trabajo con el departamento infantil en su iglesia. De hecho, en el verano de 2018 dirigió y enseñó en la Escuela Bíblica de Vacaciones de su iglesia desde una silla de ruedas. No importaban los obstáculos; ella siguió siendo fiel a sus compromisos.

Mamá de Anyra con los niños de su iglesia después de la EBV.

MI mamá tuvo todos los obstáculos imaginables que podían hacer que alguien no triunfara en la vida, pero ninguno de ellos la detuvo. “Todo lo puedo en Cristo que me fortalece” (Filipenses 4:13) fue su versículo lema. Le sirvió como motivación para perseverar. Mediante este versículo ella recordaba las luchas que tuvo el apóstol Pablo y cómo él continuó sirviendo a Cristo. A través de todos sus desafíos Pablo estaba decidido a recibir de Cristo la fortaleza para seguir haciendo lo que Dios le había llamado a hacer.

El ejemplo de mi mamá me enseñó que el liderazgo viene acompañado de desafíos, oposición, enfermedades, críticas y otras complicaciones; pero si seguimos a Cristo podemos persistir.

El espacio no me permite compartir todo lo que mi mamá fue e hizo, pero mis lecciones primeras y más importantes de liderazgo estuvieron modeladas por ella. Yo la estuve mirando y aprendiendo como ser una líder. Aun ahora, trato de mirar hacia atrás para recordar cómo le dolió la muerte de mi abuela y aprender a vivir este proceso de duelo como ella lo vivió. 

Hoy tenemos muchas niñas y jóvenes que nos miran. Nuestras sobrinas, hijas, nietas, y las niñas de la iglesia están aprendiendo por cómo lideramos, enfrentamos los desafíos, nos destacamos y perseveramos. Ellas observan cómo interactuamos con las demás personas y cómo vivimos nuestra fe.

Una de las muchas bendiciones de CLLI es que, aunque ya no soy una niña y mi mamá ya no está aquí físicamente para mirar, tengo otras líderes latinas a las que tengo el privilegio de observar y aprender de ellas. Semejante a lo que encontré en mi mamá, CLLI es una red de líderes latinas listas para compartir sus consejos, animarnos a continuar, orar por nosotras y guiarnos a los recursos que nos ayuden a crecer. 

Espero que un día las niñas y  jóvenes que me miran puedan también compartir las muchas formas en las que modelé el liderazgo para ellas.

Nos están mirando; lideremos con fidelidad. 

Anyra Cano (izquierda), es Coordinadora Académica del Instituto Cristiano para Líderes Latinas, Ministra de jóvenes de la Iglesia Bautista Victoria en Cristo en Fort Worth, TX y Coordinadora de las Mujeres Bautistas en el Ministerio de Texas.

Por Margarita Garcia

Traducido por Alicia Zorzoli

Please click here to read in English.

¿Alguna vez alguien te preguntó cuál es tu “palabra” para el año? Quizás estés pensando: ¿Qué quieres decir con eso de “tu palabra”? Yo tengo metas y anhelos, ¿pero una “palabra”? Sí, muchas personas tienen lo que ellas llaman su “palabra” para el año.

En los últimos meses he estado pensando en cuál podría ser mi “palabra”, pero me resulta una decisión difícil. ¡Me gustan todas! Cuando pienso en una palabra en particular que se relacione con un área de mi vida y que pueda representar quién soy, puedo encontrar otras diez que se relacionan con otras áreas. Sin mencionar que no se espera que esta palabra sea tuya por mucho tiempo, sino que se supone que va a cambiar a medida que pasa el tiempo y tu vida cambia. Sin embargo, el propósito de tener una palabra es ayudarte a estar enfocada en quién eres y hacia dónde te diriges de ahora en adelante.

Entonces, aquí va mi palabra: Resiliencia. Resiliencia es la capacidad de recuperarte rápidamente de las dificultades; en otras palabras: ser tenaz. Cuando medito en mi trayectoria de liderazgo pienso en el gozo que siento al caminar junto a otras mujeres en su trayectoria para descubrir el plan maravilloso de Dios para ellas. Sin embargo, no puedo ignorar los desafíos y las dificultades que han llegado a ser parte de mi caminar diario. Es verdad que celebro las victorias, pero muchas de ellas solo llegan después de haber vencido las pruebas grandes y pequeñas, los temores, las emociones desafiantes, y todas las limitaciones y los obstáculos que me enseñan y me forman para llegar a ser la persona que Dios planeó que yo fuera.

A veces, como líderes cristianas, necesitamos más respuestas, necesitamos esperar un poco más, hablar un poco más, confiar un poco más. A veces necesitamos ser un poco más tenaces y recuperarnos un poco más rápido. A menudo hacemos esas cosas, no fácilmente pero naturalmente, porque así fuimos creadas. ¿Significa eso que no se nos permite ir más despacio, ser humanas y sentir dolor como todas las demás personas? ¿Se supone que debemos hacernos más tenaces y seguir adelante sin parar? ¡Absolutamente no! Sentimos dolor, algunos días más que otros. Nos cansamos. Nos lamentamos por no tener siempre las respuestas. Y también nos cargamos de emociones. Pero, como cristianas, enfrentamos nuestras luchas de manera diferente. La Biblia dice que no las enfrentamos como el mundo lo hace sino como aquellas personas que han puesto su confianza en el Señor (1 Tesalonicenses 4:13).

Ser resiliente significa encontrar la esperanza corporizada en Cristo, la esperanza que viene de confiar que Dios está en control. Viene de vivir en el amor de Dios y en la seguridad de que Dios nos amó primero. Viene de perdonar y olvidar no porque seamos mejores que el resto sino porque somos perdonadas por Dios, y Dios olvida nuestras transgresiones. Dios nunca deja de obrar su voluntad en nosotras, y es en este proceso de encontrar la esperanza que Dios muestra su gracia. Pedro nos recuerda: “…el Dios de toda gracia, …los restaurará y los hará fuertes, firmes y estables” (1 Pedro 5:10, NVI). Dios le recordó a Pablo la suficiencia de la gracia divina: “Bástate mi gracia; porque mi poder se perfecciona en la debilidad” (2 Corintios 12:9).

Si el hecho de conocer la gracia de Dios no nos da esperanza, entonces no sé qué nos la va a dar. Las Escrituras me recuerdan que no se trata de mis victorias, mis debilidades, mis luchas ni mi dolor. Se trata de la gracia de Dios perfeccionada en mí y de la esperanza que yo encuentro al saber que Dios me va a hacer resiliente para lo que me espera. Las líderes resilientes descansan en la Palabra de Dios para lo que tienen por delante. Encontramos poder en la Palabra, y reclamamos las promesas de Dios porque las conocemos. Profundizamos en ella, la estudiamos, la meditamos, la vivimos porque allí es donde se encuentran las respuestas. Hablamos de ella porque ella habla vida, y cuando se acercan los desafíos nos aferramos a ella para recibir orientación y sabiduría.

Sin embargo, la resiliencia no ocurre por sí sola; no viene de la nada o por casualidad. Hay que buscarla. Dios nos brinda personas y organizaciones dispuestas a invertir y crecer a nuestro lado, pero tenemos que unirnos a éstas. Para mí eso es el Instituto Cristiano para Líderes Latinas (CLLI por sus siglas en inglés). Este Instituto me empodera para vivir mi palabra. Promueve que yo crezca espiritual, intelectual y culturalmente. Como líder latina soy desafiada constantemente en mi trayectoria para buscar más a Dios, aprender más y servir más. Esto es lo que soy. La trayectoria de una líder latina no busca el tipo del liderazgo que pinta el mundo demandando poder y control a expensas de las demás personas. Su trayectoria significa hacer una diferencia en otras personas, y hacer que una busque las cosas que honran a Dios.

Tenemos poder solo porque nos viene del Espíritu Santo quien nos da valor para hablar vida (Hechos 1:8), de Dios quien nos enseña a amar correctamente (Juan 3:16) y del Hijo quien nos guía a dar valientemente así como él dio su vida por nosotros (1 Timoteo 2:6). Y con respecto al control, pues bueno, quienes confiamos en el Señor sabemos que Dios guía cada paso del camino y Dios obra su perfecta voluntad. Isaías 40:10 dice: “No temas, porque yo estoy contigo; no desmayes, porque yo soy tu Dios que te esfuerzo; siempre te ayudaré, siempre te sustentaré con la diestra de mi justicia”.

Lo que usted ve en mi liderazgo como mujer latina es el impacto de aquellas personas quienes invirtieron en mi vida y me inspiraron a continuar el legado que nos precedió. No es poder y control. Es resiliencia. Es el poder de la gracia de Dios activa en mi vida para recuperarme rápidamente y ser tenaz. Es un deseo genuino para continuar siendo obediente al llamado que Dios colocó en mí, y un anhelo de hacer una diferencia en la vida de quienes caminan junto a mí.

¿Cuál es tu “palabra”?

Margarita García trabaja como facilitadora bilingüe/coordinadora de padres para el Distrito Escolar de Kaufman, TX. Margarita es la coordinadora del CLLI del Este de Texas y se graduará del CLLI en mayo del 2020.

 

Por Nora O. Lozano

Please click here to read in English.

Es un año nuevo y hay mucho que celebrar, agradecer y esperar.

Para empezar, quiero celebrar el primer aniversario del blog del CLLI. Gracias al buen trabajo de todas las escritoras mensuales, el comité editorial, las traductoras, así como de nuestra coordinadora y encargada de publicación, Anyra Cano, estamos completando un año de publicaciones. También les queremos dar las gracias a ustedes, que han leído fielmente el blog mes tras mes. Espero que durante el año pasado su vida como persona cristiana y líder haya sido enriquecida por cada una de las piezas publicadas.

Empezando con nuestro segundo año de publicación, el blog tratará diferentes temas que son pertinentes a la vida de la mujer líder cristiana. Te invitamos a seguir leyendo el blog todos los meses. Confiamos que será de bendición, aliento y desafío a medida que continúes con tu trayectoria como líder.

Además del aniversario del blog, estamos agradecidas por muchas otras cosas. Los entrenamientos del CLLI continúan con gran éxito, ayudando a desarrollar a muchas mujeres cristianas y líderes aquí en Estados Unidos y en México. Las personas que donan y apoyan al CLLI continúan dando generosamente para ayudarnos a lograr nuestro meta de transformar las vidas de mujeres en el nombre de Cristo. La facultad, las coordinadoras y el personal del CLLI continúan trabajando diligentemente para servir a todas nuestras estudiantes en las diferentes localidades, mientras que el Consejo Directivo continúa supervisando y guiando el ministerio del CLLI. Estoy muy agradecida por todas estas personas que juegan un papel vital en la vida del Instituto. ¡Son un verdadero regalo de Dios!

Más todavía, estamos mirando al futuro con mucha esperanza. Este es el año en que el Consejo Directivo del CLLI trazará, junto con el personal, el nuevo plan estratégico que guiará el curso del CLLI durante los próximos cinco años. Estamos entusiasmadas con este proceso, y apreciamos sus oraciones mientras discernimos la voluntad y los planes de Dios para el CLLI.

Espero que tú también hayas recibido al Año Nuevo con mucha celebración, gratitud y esperanza.

Te invito a celebrar y agradecer las pequeñas y grandes cosas en tu vida. Tómate un momento para recordar las cosas que a menudo damos por sentado, como la salud, vivienda, trabajo, agua limpia, comida, ropa, familia y la presencia de Dios en nuestras vidas.

Para cuando se publique este blog, será casi finales de enero. Quizás a estas alturas, estemos enfrentando propósitos de Año Nuevo fallidos, y una frustración por nuestra falta de compromiso.

Independientemente de tu situación, quiero invitarte a continuar viendo el Año Nuevo con un sentido de esperanza. Si bien nuestros propósitos anuales pueden ser fallidos, te aliento a que hagas nuevos planes, tal vez propósitos mensuales o semanales que pueden lograrse más fácilmente y los cuales te mantendrán con motivación. Si establecemos una meta semanal y la rompemos, muy pronto será nuevamente el lunes, y tendremos una oportunidad de comenzar una vez más.

Debido a que nuestras vidas son muy diversas, supongo que nuestras metas para el año 2020 probablemente también sean muy diferentes. Sin embargo, recuerdo la afirmación de John Maxwell de que una persona que es buena en el liderazgo primero debe aprender a liderarse a sí misma.  

A medida que aprendes a liderar, pregúntate: ¿Qué áreas de tu vida necesitas cambiar? ¿Qué necesitas mejorar para “ser una persona líder verdaderamente efectiva, a la cual la gente quiere seguir?” (John Maxwell, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, p. ix).

Si bien este trabajo personal es importante, quiero invitarte también a seguir trabajando en la base más importante de tu vida: tu relación con Dios.

El Salmo uno ofrece buenos consejos para establecer una base sólida para la vida. En los versículos 1 al 3, el salmista nos invita tanto a deleitarnos y meditar constantemente en la Palabra de Dios, como a alejarnos de las malas compañías y la gente malvada. Estas acciones nos llevarán a ser personas bendecidas de verdad. La Biblia compara a esta persona bendecida con un árbol fuerte que está plantado junto a corrientes de agua, dando fruto en su tiempo y que sus hojas no caen. Este tipo de persona próspera en todo lo que hace.

Independientemente de si enfrentas o no desafíos particulares en este momento, cualquier persona que es buena en el liderazgo siempre tiene espacio para crecer y desarrollarse. Que este salmo te inspire en el Año Nuevo a anclar tu vida en la palabra de Dios y en las buenas acciones que surgirán de esta relación. Que te inspire a convertirte en la persona líder que Dios quiere que seas, y que la gente quiera seguir.

Y a medida que crezcas y te desarrolles este año, recuerda que el CLLI está aquí para ayudarte en tu desarrollo como líder. Así que apoyémonos en oración mientras continuamos con nuestras trayectorias de liderazgo y seguimos el plan de Dios para nuestras vidas.

El año 2020 aún es joven y, por lo tanto, lleno de posibilidades. Con la bendición de Dios, ¡hagámoslo un año próspero y bendecido! ¡Que así sea!

La doctora Nora O. Lozano es Directora Ejecutiva del Instituto Cristiano para Líderes Latinas y Profesora de Estudios Teológicos en la Universidad Bautista de las Américas en San Antonio, Texas.

HERMANDAD Y LAGRIMAS

Christian Latina Leadership Institute

Por Adalia Gutiérrez Lee

Please click here to read in English

Nunca pensé que a mi edad sería tan difícil hablar sobre mis hermanas.  No por no tener algo qué decir, sino porque tengo demasiadas cosas qué contarles.  Tuve dos hermanas y ambas murieron.  Una de bebé y otra muy joven.  Sin embargo, después de haber perdido a seres tan allegados a mí, pude comprender el versículo “fuerte es como la muerte el amor” (Cant 8:6 RVA) y me atrevería a decir aún, después de mi experiencia, que el amor es aún másfuerte que la muerte: porque nuestras hermanas o seres queridos podrán marchar, pero el amor y la relación estrecha que nos vincula con y a través de cada una de ellas, persiste.  No pretendo ser mórbida hablando de muerte o de cosas tristes, pero tampoco quiero ignorar que el amor: “todo lo sufre, todo lo cree, todo lo espera, todo lo soporta.El amor nunca deja de ser” (1 Cor 13:7-8 RVA) 

Si tenemos miedo a sufrir, nos va a costar amar.  Si pienso cuántas veces he llorado por las personas que amo, o cuántas veces he llorado la pérdida de un ser querido, no es nada comparable a las veces que sé que Jesús y todas las personas que me aman ¡también han llorado conmigo! Recuerdo que hubo una “racha” de pérdida de personas muy allegadas a mí que me hacía sentir “contagiosa”.  No quería que las personas se me acercaran por miedo a pasarles mi “mala suerte”, o a tener que tratar de encontrar una explicación a tanto sufrimiento. No me considero una persona supersticiosa, ni pesimista, pero me estaba costando mucho trabajo procesar mi duelo. Sin embargo, también recuerdo en esos momentos con cuánto amor ¡la gran familia de Dios me abrazó y lloró conmigo!  No hubiera podido salir adelante de estas pérdidas, si Dios no se hubiera manifestado en mi vida a través de la solidaridad, las oraciones, el abrazo y las lágrimas de todas mis hermanas y hermanos que me acogieron.

Ahora me encuentro en otra etapa.  Sigo mostrando mi amor con lágrimas.  Ya no pretendo encontrar una explicación al sufrimiento.  Sólo se que al amar se sufre.  Mi vida ha sido marcada con lágrimas de amor, pero lágrimas que no sólo fueron de tristeza, sino que fueron y siguen siendo también de alegría al haber conversado y compartido tiempos preciosos con mi mamá, mis hermanas, mis cuñadas, mis primas, mis hijas, mis sobrinas, mis amigas.

La cultura latinoamericana es bien conocida por cultivar relaciones estrechas con la familia extendida. Mi familia no fue la excepción.  Recuerdo cuando mi hermana me agradeció por vivir cerca de ella cuando estuvo enferma y me dijo: “Tu presencia ha hecho una gran diferencia ¡como de la tierra al cielo! Nuestras hijas no están conviviendo como primas, sino como hermanas: como tú y yo convivimos.”  Después de que ella murió, he tratado de continuar esa unidad entre ellas. Hay un valor y una conexión única y especial en la amistad y el amor entre hermanas ¡Cuántas veces hemos reido, o llorado, o incluso pensado en las mismas cosas cuando estamos con nuestras hermanas!  ¡Cuántas veces nos hemos peleado con ellas y después arrepentido porque no vale la pena que el enojo prevalezca en nuestra relación!  

Esta época del año en nuestro calendario cristiano es de adviento, de espera.   Una época llena de esperanza, paz, gozo y amor.  Necesitamos confesarla y vivirla primero como familia de Dios y también como familias latinoamericanas.  Particularmente este año, muchos países latinoamericanos han sufrido calamidades naturales, huelgas, injusticias, pobreza, desesperanza, guerra y muerte.  Nuestro llamado como familia en la fe es a esperar con esperanza, paz, gozo y amor. Si hemos de sufrir por amar, también recordemos que esas lágrimas de amor son las que van a recordar el amor y la solidaridad que Jesús tiene por nosotros, por ellos, por nuestros pueblos siempre.

Adalia Gutiérrez Lee trabaja como directora de area para Iberoamérica y el Caribe en International Ministries y forma parte de la mesa directiva de CLLI.

Por Nora I. Silva

Traducido por Patricia Gomez

Please click here to read in English

Siempre me he considerado una chica de chicas. Esto es porque siempre he valorado a las mujeres que son parte de mi vida, y reconozco la influencia profunda que recibí y que continúo recibiendo de ellas. Al pensar en todas las mujeres que han sido una influencia y ejemplo en mi vida, primeramente pienso en mi mamá, sus hermanas y hasta sus cuñadas. Mis tías fueron y todavía siguen siendo mujeres que admiro y respeto. Cada una de ellas contribuyó a las experiencias únicas que tuve mientras crecía. Lo que observé entre ellas fue una conexión basada en algo que ahora reconozco como una confianza profunda y amor verdadero. Y aunque tal vez no lo haya entendido en aquel entonces, lo que observé fue apoyo en tiempos difíciles, celebración de logros, risa, muchas risas, y la consistencia en todo esto.

Tengo la bendición de tener cuatro hermanas. Mis tres hermanas mayores siempre me alentaron y a menudo prepararon el camino para que yo tuviera éxito. Ellas proveyeron para mí en formas que mi papá y mi mamá no podían hacerlo. Mi hermana Cissy, después de que se mudó, siguió enviando dinero y se aseguró de que yo tuviera ropa nueva para ir a la escuela. Mi hermana Lettie me dio un gran ejemplo al alcanzar una educación superior, y al hacerme que me quedara con ella en los veranos, para así inspirarme a hacer lo mismo. Mi hermana Doris, a los diecisiete años, trabajó en un restaurante local de comida rápida, y usó el dinero que ganaba arduamente para inscribirme en clases de gimnasia, pues sabía que yo amaba ese deporte y que mi papá y mi mamá no podían pagar las clases. También se aseguró de que yo fuera con ella a la iglesia los domingos. Todas ellas proporcionaron oportunidades y opciones para mi vida. Trabajaron arduamente para extender los límites de mis experiencias, para que así yo pudiera llegar más lejos de donde ellas habían llegado. Anna, mi hermana menor, no tuvo esta función de influencia en mi vida temprana.Yo la adoraba cuando era bebé, pero luego se convirtió en una molestia para mí, ya que era la hermanita que tenía que llevar conmigo a todas partes. Ahora que somos mujeres adultas, se ha convertido en una de mis mejores amigas.

Cada una de mis hermanas tuvo y continúa teniendo un impacto único en mi vida. Cissy con su dulzura y paciencia evoca la paz en mí. Lettie me ayuda a sacar a la mujer luchadora que llevo dentro. Doris demostró obediencia a Dios y eso me ayudó a rendirme a Dios. Anna, mi hermana menor, me enseñó que mientras yo observaba y admiraba a otras mujeres, a la vez había otras observando y admirándome a mí. Todas estas experiencias han contribuido a que sea la hermana y la persona que hoy soy, en el horizonte amplio de la vida.Debido a la distancia geográfica, no veo a mis hermanas frecuentemente, pero de una manera similar a lo que vi con mis tías y mi mamá, la confianza y el amor son profundos, reales y constantes.

Afortunadamente para mí, la hermandad no termina con mis hermanas de sangre. Una de las características más fuertes de las mujeres a las que llamo hermanas, es la disponibilidad de estar a mi lado durante la lucha. He sido bendecida con mujeres que a pesar de no haber estado de acuerdo con alguna de mis decisiones y con las consecuencias de esas decisiones, han dicho: “¿Cómo puedo ayudarte? No estás sola”.  He sido bendecida con mujeres que después de escuchar sobre las cosas con las que tengo conflicto, me dicen: “Anímate, Dios cuidará de ti”. He sido bendecida con mujeres que tal vez no dicen nada, pero que oran por mí y conmigo. Esto es hermandad. Para estar cerca de otras mujeres y edificarlas, camine con ellas y manténgase a su lado, especialmente cuando estén luchando por mantener su equilibrio bajo el peso de esto que llamamos vida.

Mi experiencia con CLLI ha sido este tipo de trayectoria. He conocido a mujeres increíbles que han hecho justo lo que he descrito. Ellas han estado a mi lado, me han animado y han orado por mí. Es en este círculo que el llamado de Dios en mi vida comenzó a perfilarse. Me uní al CLLI primero como miembro de la facultad y luego como miembro de la junta directiva. Al igual que muchas de nosotras, me sentí descalificada para servir en esta capacidad, no porque no tuviera las habilidades para enseñar la clase asignada, al contrario, ésa era la parte fácil. Más bien me sentía descalificada delante de Dios. Pensé que de alguna manera era un error que yo fuera parte de la obra increíble que Dios estaba haciendo a través del CLLI. Sin embargo, fue aquí donde las mujeres que admiraba y respetaba me mostraron que Dios me estaba llamando a algo especial. Más importante aún, es que a través de esta experiencia de hermandad aprendí que con mi propio esfuerzo no estoy calificada para servir, pero con Dios tengo todo lo que necesito para seguir el propósito que Dios tiene para mí.

Al igual que las mujeres que fueron las primeras en ver la tumba vacía, estoy rodeada de mujeres que son cariñosas, comprometidas, leales, fieles y sobre todo triunfadoras. Puedo imaginar la tristeza y la pérdida que estas mujeres bíblicasestaban experimentando, pero trabajaron juntas para hacer lo que se necesitaba. Estoy segura de que se animaron mutuamente por el dolor que sintieron. En su compromiso con Dios y con las demás personas, llegaron a experimentar juntas la increíble verdad de la resurrección de Jesús (Lucas 24:1-12; Mateo 28:1-10; Juan 20:11-18). Qué increíble y maravilloso es cuando Dios nos permite experimentar la hermandad de tal manera que nuestras vidas cambian para siempre, y las historias que compartimos hablan del amor de Dios a través de las mujeres que Dios ha enviado a nuestras vidas.

Nora Silva es la Pastora Ejecutiva de la Iglesia Mosaico de San Antonio y miembro de la facultad del Christian Christian Leadership Institute. También se desempeña como Presidenta de la Red de Mujeres Hispanas de Texas.