Adjunct Faculty: Why Sisters In Ministry Toolbox?


Mrs Josephine Li, an EAST Partners in Ministry Adjunct Faculty, has been instrumental in conducting online workshops for ladies in ministry. She is the wife of Resident Faculty Rev Jacob Li and mother to Josiah (11) and Jesse (7). Through her “Sisters in Ministry Toolbox” workshops, over 200 participants across Asia have been impacted. These workshops seek to creatively and holistically integrate the biblical/theological perspectives in the context of present day reality of living, working, and ministering in the world. Below is an interview where Josephine shares her vision and passion for this ministry.

What prompted you to start the Sisters in Ministry Toolbox workshops?

Through this pandemic, I saw God create many new opportunities in theological education. This is such an EXCITING time for us. To be able to reach out to the world with a press of a button and at the comfort of our home!  In many ways, I feel burdened with the resources that we have and how am I going to share with others. What can I do to reach out to the world with the gifts, experiences and education that He has given me in light of our current situation?

Ever since God called me into full-time ministry, He has given me a passion to minister and equip women. I am grateful that He has allowed me to do that for more than a decade. While I was still in the seminary in the US, God inspired and prompted me to focus my study on women’s ministry. I was greatly ministered by the women ministry at our seminary at the time and at various churches. Many of the US churches would put lots of resources in women ministry and I was greatly inspired! During my time there, I saw great value in equipping women, especially young women to love God! My hope now is to see the same in Asia!

Through my past 6 years serving at EAST in the Partners in Ministry (PIM) program, God has really opened my eyes to see the possibilities! I always see a gap in women ministry training in Asia. I am grateful for EAST’s wonderful PIM program for the ministry wives. However, God has shown me there is a need to reach out to other sisters beyond EAST! God has opened my eyes through my encounter with other sisters in ministry who do not live in Singapore, our female single students as well as other women who are actively serving in ministry but their husbands might not be in full-time ministry. Because of the requirements of our PIM program, many of them we cannot reach through the school. Many cannot afford a formal theological training financially, or are prevented by their life’s circumstances! Many of them do not have the luxury to take a few years off to study, yet are expected to serve and do ministries without any training! I see such a BIG gap and a void that needs to be filled! 

Because of this gap and void, God has really impressed in my heart to start informal training for these sisters out there via Zoom. I thank God for starting us off two years ago on this journey when the pandemic began. After much prayer and sharing my heart with Dr. Jeannette, she encouraged me to start one or two workshops each semester to try it out. And I did! Because I have a year off from teaching at PIM and EAST, I thought to myself: “Don’t waste my time. I need to make use of it! Let’s try it out” . By the grace of God, He has allowed me to run 14 workshops from the month of July-Nov in English and Chinese – both night and day sessions because of different audiences’ needs. God has amazingly and graciously brought over 200 ladies from various parts of Asia to sign up for these ONLINE workshops. It is so EXCITING to see all these are now possible because of ZOOM and technology.

This is my desire for Sisters In Ministry Toolbox; to provide holistic, biblical, practical, and creative ministry ONLINE training for our sisters, so they can easily transfer what they have learned into their ministry settings or even to their own home!

As I journey on, I see more and more the value of having informal training ONLINE to the majority of the saints and the rest of the world. I hope to bridge the gap from the biblical/theological world and our present-day world through creativity and practicality! How can we as educators/facilitators/teachers help our students to see the relevance and practicality of what they have learned in the seminary or even from the Bible. 

Because of the Sisters in Ministry Toolbox, I am stretched in many ways to bridge the gaps between the 2 worlds! I have learned the importance of “packaging” biblically, theologically, practically, relevant, and creatively sound workshops according to my students’ needs. I see much fruit from the students as they can see the relevance of the Scripture to their personal lives.. This is something we could do at EAST to teach our students by showing them concrete examples on how to design/prepare/run an effective 2-hour workshop in an engaging and creative way! The related questions to me are: How can we teach our students to synthesize the BIG concepts/knowledge (by integrating various disciplines)  and package them creatively and with relevance to the needs of their audiences, into a few-hour “head, heart, hand” seminar/workshop/training that equips the body of Christ in their ministry settings and churches?

I understand there is also a Mandarin edition of the workshops in collaboration with an EAST Alumna Chi Yuping. How did that collaboration get started?

For some time, I see a big gap in Mandarin training workshops for our sisters. However, because of many constraints and my own limitations in Mandarin, I prayed that God would bring someone along to serve with me. As I shared my vision with some of the alumna especially the Mandarin speaking sisters, they were excited to join my team! Because of our past relationship at EAST, it was such a natural and joyful experience to serve with my ex-students.

Chi Yuping has also helped me in my various speaking engagements outside of EAST before. It was such a joyful experience that we could serve together again.  I am so excited now Yuping is also having her own Sisters In Ministry Toolbox workshops in Mandarin in her ministry settings. She has been my official translator for my Mandarin workshops since the beginning. She has such a teachable and servant heart to learn and grow more. Besides Yuping, I also worked with a few other alumnae as well. Another alumna who lives in a closed country will also be helping me teach part of the BSM workshop in Mandarin in October. I am praying to share this vision with other alumna who live in various parts of the world.  

Besides the alumnae, there are existing students helping me too like Anj and Yami, and my PIM partner Agnes. They would come to sit in my sessions to support me with various tasks. I have invited them to share in various workshops to build up their confidence in reaching out to other women. Many pray for me and this ministry like Dr. Jeannette, Dr. Roland, my Faculty-Integrated-Team (FIT Team – a designated small group of cross-discipline faculty at EAST), Student Council (SC) and many others at EAST! I thank God for the advancement team like Jonathan and Ee Yuing for their support and help in publicising these workshops. Of course, I got personal encouragement from others at EAST like my FIT Team, Su, Amy, YK, Margaret & CCH and others. I think their blessings and encouragement really affirmed the vision that God has given me!

I hope Sisters in Ministry Toolbox will be an inspiration to those who come along and be inspired to pass on the vision to share what they have learned with others! This is my prayer for those who attend the workshops, that they will multiple and bless many others. I really pray for Godly wisdom on how to expand this ministry if this is His desire to do so. 

This is such a valuable lesson in this “mentorship” experience with the alumna and students! I have learned I must first demonstrate to my students how I can bridge the biblical/theological world into our modern day world creatively, practically and holistically.. My teaching should be transferable and “well packaged” that they can easily multiply and use at their ministry settings. I am very excited that some of my PIM students are also doing the same and sharing what they have learned in their home and ministry settings as well!

Which workshop has the highest registration so far? Why do you think so?

All workshops serve various functions and purposes, because the mandate of Sisters in Ministry Toolbox is to provide holistic, practical and creative training for discipleship. I have workshops that build on biblical skills, self-care skills and evangelistic events. I think so far the attendance is quite even. 

I noted that the Bible Study Methods (BSM) and facilitation workshops have the overall highest attendance. This may imply these are the major needs sisters in ministry have that are currently not being met through their contexts. It also caused me to think through my approach to teaching with the resultant questions: How can I transfer some of the formal to informal training in a bite size and relevant way? What kind of informal training can we provide to train up the saints and to assist the churches? 

How has the response of the sisters been to the Sacred Rest workshop and What’s Your Style workshops that have been carried out so far?

It has been such an encouraging and humbling experience to run my Sacred Rest and Spiritual Pathways workshops in various languages. I have learned a lot from the feedback from those who attended! Many felt blessed and the message was so timely to their current situations. They enjoyed the interactive and engaging vibes of the workshops, and the time allowed for reflection and the creative exercises. Some would say I talked too fast…Haha…

But no matter the good and bad, I have learned and been stretched! I am SO grateful for the opportunity to improve my teaching skills! For me, it is very crucial to learn from feedback. Every workshop, I would intentionally craft out time for them to finish the evaluations (if you don’t do that there, they will not do it after). I believe I grow as a teacher as I learn from these evaluated experiences! I take the evaluations seriously and I often adjust my teaching accordingly in my next workshop. 

In terms of the style of the workshop, it is very important for me to create a welcoming, fun, engaging, interactive, practical and creative learning environment. I was truly inspired NOT to be a boring teacher because of my growing up years in Hong Kong. I love to party as many of you know. I was reminded by Dr. Jeannette that I should create a party of learning! I love to research new ideas and new activities that enhance teaching. I get bored if I do the same thing in the same way again. It is very important for me to think outside of the box! I am excited to try out new ideas! Recently, I incorporated a lot of Art Therapy exercises into my workshops as a way to help people to meditate on God’s truths and their circumstances. Surprisingly, it has been very well received. 

For me, I really enjoy running and preparing workshops because of the creativity and the flexibility that gives me much freedom to explore new ideas and new ways of teaching. Even though it is a long process (at least 100 hours) to develop a new workshop, I learn many new things in the process. I must say many times I got stuck, and I pray for God to give me new ideas! He never fails me and sometimes I feel like God wakes me up in the middle of the night to download His new ideas to me!

My prayer for my workshop is that when people leave the workshop, they feel encouraged and be lightened with their burdens. God would heal them whatever circumstances they are in. It is very important for me to build an ONLINE community and I am still learning that! This is especially crucial for women’s ministry to build relationships with one and other. This is something that I am learning and seeking God’s hearts on how to do that in an ONLINE setting!  

What is your greatest satisfaction in carrying out all these various workshops?

I cannot tell you how blessed I am and a HUGE revival in my calling and passion through the Sisters in Ministry Toolbox!! It’s easy to do the same thing again and again, and lose our passion and vision in our mundane life or in ministry. I have been praying for this revival in me for almost two years. He did!

I think my greatest satisfaction is definitely to be able to reach out to the sisters from various parts of the world simultaneously with a press of a BUTTON. Many of them I could not possibly have thought of reaching before, but now it is ALL possible! I must say I just LOVE Zoom! Sometimes I see so much GOOD because of the pandemic! ONLINE learning is the NOW and the highway to fulfill the GREAT COMMISSION! 

Also, it has been very INSPIRING to meet sisters from various seasons of life and various parts of the world. They help me to understand what is going on in this real world! What are the real struggles and challenges that these women face? Sometimes I feel we can be quite sheltered in our own Christian communities and fail to understand what’s happening out there. Through their registration forms (where I ask a lot of specific questions to understand their needs), I start to understand more, what other training and support styles would benefit them most. The audience’s analysis really helps me to design relevant curriculums for the workshops. 

Another EXCITING thing is that the multiplication of these workshops are SOOO exciting. Seeing the attendants blessed by the workshops and in turn they use that to multiple and bless many others is just too AMAZING! I often got messages from the people who have attended the workshops, and they would tell me how they have used what they have learned in their ministry settings and at their home. Some would tell me how God used the workshop to heal their wounds and struggles in their lives. 

Last but not least, it is very fun for me to work with our alumna and students, and together we explore this exciting time together and seek His heart. I see such a blessing to have them serve alongside and partner with me, as we learn and make mistakes together. We debriefed after the session about what we observed went well and what didn’t. It has become a REAL classroom for ALL of us! I trust that God will make a difference in women’s ministry in Asia if we continue to be faithful and rely on His guidance! I am just humbled that He would choose me to start this wonderful ministry! I just can’t wait to see how God is going to lead us. Thanks for reading this LONG interview. May God give us all the wisdom and creativity to grow as a teacher!

For ladies who would like to find out more about the free online workshops: click here for the English workshops and here for the Mandarin ones.

To register for the English workshops, sign up here. To register for Chinese workshops: 在此处查看研讨会的中文版。


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