Women’s Ministry Around the World: An Interview with Keri Folmar

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IMG_6097In June of 2015, about 20 women gathered in London for a meeting to discuss women’s ministries in complementarian contexts around the world. Our hope was to learn from one another and encourage each other in our task.

We heard from women in Australia, South Africa, Europe, UAE, and the USA. Led by the Proclamation Trust, we first met at The Evangelical Ministry Assembly (EMA) and enjoyed excellent teaching and fellowship. Afterwards, we traveled to The Oast House Retreat Center to debrief, discuss, and get to know one another.

It was one of those gatherings that left me wanting to share with others the kingdom work being done by women in a variety of settings. I’ve asked these ladies to tell us a bit about their ministries, so that we can all glean from their wisdom and prayerfully support their labors around the world.

Today, we’ll get a glimpse into the ministry work of Keri Folmar. She lives in Dubai and for the past 10 years has ministered at the United Christian Church of Dubai.John F

Can you share with us a little about the culture where you live and the work you are doing?

It’s Las Vegas meets the Middle East here in Dubai! The United Arab Emirates is an Islamic country that is surprisingly tolerant of people from other religions but still committed to Sharia Law for Muslims. In Dubai, people from over 200 countries converge to build and do commerce in the city. There are Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists from the East, Catholics and Atheists from the West, and Muslims from all over the Middle East and North Africa. It’s an exciting place to live! We have many opportunities to share the gospel, often with people who have never heard the truth about Jesus Christ.Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 7.50.21 AM

The women of UCCD minister to one another in a variety of different ways including hospitality, counseling one another, wedding and baby showers, retreats and Bible studies. I run our weekly Bible study, in addition to writing, teaching and leading Bible studies. We generally do inductive studies through a book of the Bible. Twelve leaders pair up to lead discussions in small groups. After meeting in small groups, we gather together for expositional teaching through the passage we have studied. Our leaders and teachers are wonderful women who love the word of God and come from India, Kenya, Australia, Zambia, South Africa, and the United States.

Because we have a lot of turnover (women moving from Dubai or having babies), we are constantly looking for new leaders to train. We look for women who love the word of God, are committed to the church, understand God’s sovereignty and have a gospel-centered perspective. When we find these women, we grab them and train them through instruction and mentoring.

What are some of the challenges of your ministry in Dubai? What are some of the joys?

Our main challenge is the same thing that brings us much joy. Our church is made up of people from around 60 different countries. The variety of cultures and religious backgrounds can lead to misunderstandings and disagreements. The only thing that can unite us is the gospel of Jesus Christ. So our pastors preach expositionally through the Scriptures and bring the gospel to bear in their preaching, teaching and choice of hymns and songs. We follow suit in women’s ministries. Consequently, we center our relationships on the gospel and enjoy deep times of fellowship.

IMG_0694Another joy is sharing the gospel with women from different religious backgrounds. The Lord is at work and we are privileged to see a steady stream of conversions. We get to partner together to explain the one true faith to women like D from Iran. Sandhya, one of our Bible study teachers, brought D to Bible study and church a few months ago. Now D loves the fellowship and teaching and is reading the Bible on her own. Please pray for her to put her trust in Jesus!

In what ways have you seen the Lord at work?

The women of UCCD have deepened in their love for God, his word and his church. They are increasingly committed to studying the Bible and reading it daily to know God better. Like Sandhya (above), many of the women seek opportunities to share the gospel with others. They also increasingly center their lives around the church in fellowship and service.

How have you been encouraged or supported in your ministry by pastors and elders?

Our elders are enthusiastic about women’s ministry. The most important way they support the ministry is by the regular preaching of God’s word and faithfully teaching us, women and men, in classes before our weekly gathering. The elders also encourage us verbally, listen to our needs, and spur women on to attend. This pastoral oversight gives us a healthy foundation and unity on which to build.

For those reading this today, what are two specific ways we can pray for your work?

100_12251)The citizens of the UAE, and Gulf Arabs in general, are an unreached people group. We long for the Lord to bring them to himself. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of these people, grow seeds we have planted and give more gospel opportunities.

2) Dubai is a transient community. Please pray for the Lord to raise up new leaders among our women, and pray for the women who leave to apply what they’ve learned in their new churches which are often in very strategic places.

Please take a moment to pray for Keri, UCCD, and the people of the UAE.  If you’re looking for Bible study guides, be sure to check out her books below.

 

Photo 13Keri is the wife of John Folmar, pastor of the United Christian Church of Dubai, an evangelical church in the Middle East, and the mother of three engaging teenagers. She loves discipling and teaching women in addition to leading and writing Bible studies. Her Bible studies, Joy! on Philippians, Faith on James, and Grace on Ephesians are available from Cruciform Press. Keri has also contributed to Word-Filled Women’s Ministry and the ESV Women’s Devotional Bible. Before marrying John, Keri was a lawyer and served as the chief counsel for the House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Constitution where she was the staff writer of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban.

 

Also in this series:

Interview with Carrie Sandom

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