Good News Applauds Women of Distinction 2022

“Many women do noble things, but… a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised,” declares Proverbs 31:29 -30. This well-known chapter describes a remarkable woman involved in all facets of her community, active in the marketplace, involved in charity and managing the affairs of her household. She is a woman of distinction. This month, in conjunction with Mother’s Day, Good News applauds five women of distinction who are leaders in our faith community. Read their thoughts on their calling along with a few words of advice.

 

women of distinction
Back Row: Bill Mitchell III, Bill Mitchell, Jacqui Mitchell; Front Row: Liam Mitchell, Gracie Mitchell, Elizabeth Mitchell, Anna Mitchell, Kimberly Mitchell, Greg Mitchell, Bella Mitchell and Joshy Mitchell

Elizabeth Mitchell

Boca Raton Community Church

 

A talented author and speaker, Elizabeth Mitchell is part of the leadership team at Boca Raton Community Church, where she serves alongside her husband, Pastor Bill Mitchell. She posts weekly “Journey for the Heart” devotionals to her blog (ElizabethAMitchell.com), has written three books and frequently travels overseas as part of the faculty of WorldLead to encourage leaders involved in the nonprofit world.

Bill and Elizabeth have five children, who they home educated from pre-school through high school. They also have four grandchildren. Their youngest son, James, passed away almost 16 years ago after battling congenital heart disease, which required multiple open-heart surgeries, pacemakers and a heart transplant at the age of four. Elizabeth described those years as “a time when God taught us more about himself than at any time in our life.” Elizabeth wrote Journey from the Heart – Hope When Life’s Unfair following this loss to share their testimony of God’s limitless provision and grace. An updated edition of the book, which includes a Bible study guide, is set to be released in July.

 

What do you believe is God’s calling for you?

My calling is to let men and women know that Jesus is enough no matter what, and to call them to incorporate the spiritual disciplines into their lives – things like time alone with God and prayer and silence or solitude.

 

Is the role of women changing in the faith community?

I do think it’s changing in a very positive way. I see more churches giving women a platform to use their gifts. Now there are strong women’s voices in almost every area of Christian ministry. And I think it’s critical because on the world stage in our secular culture, women are being looked up to far more than they used to. So for a Christian woman to have a place and a voice, with her character and her lifestyle, she can declare just how wonderful Christ is in her own life, the life of her family, and in whatever she’s doing.

 

What Bible verse has encouraged you?

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore! Remember His marvelous works which He has done…” (Psalms 105:1 – 5 NKJV)

 

What was your most challenging time as a mother?

The most challenging time was when our son died, and we had to walk through grief with the other four children. We were struggling as parents, as a mother and a father, with this great loss and then helping our children navigate the loss of their precious brother.

 

What was your most rewarding time as a mother?

Whenever I hear from others how our children are blessing them, I think that’s the most incredible reward. Whether its people they’re leading in a Bible study or someone they’ve helped or given counsel to in a business or spiritual relationship, when I know our children are being a blessing to other people, nothing else quite compares to that.

 

Advice for women and mothers:

As a woman, whether you’re a wife, a mother or single, develop your own relationship with Christ. Make that relationship the number one priority in your life, then everything else falls into place according to his plan. For wives, enjoy walking beside your husband, encourage him in whatever God is calling him and don’t hold him back. For mothers, try to enjoy the season you’re in and don’t long for the next season too quickly. Enjoy every season, the good and the bad, because it will help prepare you for the next. Every single morning there is enough grace, enough of His mercy and enough of His wisdom for right where you are.

 

 

women of distinction
From left to right: Yvokia A. Davidson, Layla Davidson and Rev. Dr. Marcus Davidson

Yvokia A. Davidson

New Mount Olive Baptist Church

 

Yvokia A. Davidson is First Lady at New Mount Olive Baptist Church where she serves as membership and ministry coordinator alongside her husband, Reverend Dr. Marcus Davidson, lead pastor. The Davidsons have a 16-year-old daughter, Layla, and moved to South Florida for the ministry 12 years ago from Alabama. With a membership of more than 12,000 and 35 ministries, Yvokia said, “Our church is well rounded because we have something for everyone.”

Having attended Alabama A & M University, Davidson ultimately received a master’s degree in human service counseling from Liberty University and offers life coaching and mentoring as president and CEO of Yvokia Davidson Ministries, Inc. An avid fitness trainer and aerobics instructor, Davidson helps transform people’s lives for healthy living, training both at the church through the Faithfully Fit program she initiated and in the community. “It’s work and a hobby for me that I love,” she admits.

Davidson also leads the women’s ministry at the church. “Last year we were virtual, but I had started this quarterly fellowship called ladies night in, and there were three components- soul care, self care and savings care – because we have to make sure we take care of our finances as well. We had a hundred plus ladies on zoom each time.”

 

What do you believe is God’s calling for you?

God is first and then my family, but I do believe that God has equipped me and called me to be there to support my husband in the ministry, to be there for my family and be there for the women of the church as well.

 

Is the role of women changing in the faith community?

I do think that it’s changing, and I think it’s changing for the better. We are stepping out doing things that we would not do. We’re leading in areas where we would not have led before. We’re leading ministries. We have women out there leading churches, so I feel like we’re stepping up to the plate doing mentorship and things like that for our younger ladies in the church.

 

What Bible verse has encouraged you?

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2 NKJV).

 

What was your most challenging time as a mother?

Our daughter was bullied in middle school and it was a very tough time for us as a family. Layla was 11 or 12 and really wanted to just give up on school friends and everything. It was serious. The young lady was getting physical with Layla and we dealt back and forth with the school. Finally God changed things for us was when we started praying for the young lady that was bullying her.

 

What was your most rewarding time as a mother?

The first was at six when Layla received Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior because I thought, she’s in God’s hands now. Then last year during the pandemic Layla came to us saying she wanted to write a book. She wrote a 31-day devotional for teens called “Words for your walk.” Marcus and I helped her with scriptures. She pulled quotes from others and then she would write on those topics. When she published that book, it was one of the most rewarding times for me being a mother.

 

Advice for women and mothers:

I would say just to love God, love yourself and love others. A focus for me right now is self-care. And it really opened my eyes during the pandemic to take time for family because we don’t know how long they’re going to be there.

 

women of distinction
From left to right: Carl Santangelo, Scott Kimple, Liz Kimple, Elly Furno, Carl Santangelo, Gita Santangelo, Serena Furno, Nicole Furno, Sam Furno and Rob Furno.

Gita Santangelo

Community Prayer Partner

 

A prayer warrior, Gita Santangelo has served on the International Prayer Team for Luis Palau Ministries and compiled several personalized prayer books as co-founder of GodHears. She and her husband Attorney Carl Santangelo have three adult children and three grandchildren and have attended Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale for many years.

Recently, Santangelo is helping to develop the prayer strategy for Live the Life South Florida and their new ten-year initiative called All In. “We will be praying the third Wednesday of every month to come alongside Lisa May and the board of directors to cover them in prayer to strengthen families and marriages and the schools in South Florida.”

Santangelo recalled how she began praying for the Luis Palau Ministries during prayer walks on Fort Lauderdale Beach in anticipation of BeachFest in 2002. Shortly later, she and Vee Stepelton, of the Stacy Foundation, partnered together to write a series of prayer books that could be personalized to include the name of the person being prayed for, now available at GodHears.com.

Having served as a leader at Bible Study Fellowship, Santangelo said she came to faith through the Bible study and remembers reading in Luke where the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray. Then she learned the four steps of prayer through Moms in Touch, now a ministry called Moms in Prayer, that uses scripture to pray for their children in school. “We prayed our children would come to faith and one by one they did.”

 

What do you believe is God’s calling for you?

I have a passion for teaching God’s word and sharing the power of praying his word, because it does say that His word will not return void but will accomplish the purpose for which He sent it.

 

Is the role of women changing in the faith community?

I don’t know. There have been so many powerful women of God throughout the centuries. God has a special place in his heart for women. I feel like he’s used many ordinary women over the centuries in extraordinary ways by the power of the Holy Spirit and his anointing.

 

What Bible verse has encouraged you?

“…to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God” (Psalm 78:5-8 NIV).

 

What was your most challenging time as a mother?

My son was involved in a near-fatal car accident at age 17 shortly after BeachFest. They airlifted him to Broward General Hospital. The Lord spared his life and I’m just so thankful. I had a Moms in Touch prayer group that morning, and I remember praying God’s protection around our children. And there was an angel there because a Christian trauma nurse was at the site of the accident. She held his hand, prayed for him and stayed with them till they took him to the hospital. So, I knew the Lord was with him and I just kept praying. Now he is a testimony of God’s faithfulness.

 

What was your most rewarding time as a mother?

I have no greater joy than to see that my children are walking in the truth. It’s so rewarding to see that my daughters have the gift of praying God’s word. My daughter Nicole is also part of the Palau Prayer Team, so it’s so rewarding to be to partner with her in the gospel. My other daughter Liz has served with me on the mission field in Africa, sharing the gospel with HIV orphans, and our son is doing well. He is a lifeguard, and in a way, he’s saving lives in the ocean.

 

Advice for women and mothers:

Matthew 6:33, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these other things will be added to you as well.” To seek God and it’s not always easy to do, but just to be “joyful in hope and patient in affliction and faithful in prayer,” which is Romans 12:12.

 

women of distinction
From left to right: granddaughter, Righteous R. Williams; Rev. Dr. O’Neal Dozier; Leketia Barner Dozier, Esq.; daughter, Marilita Dozier Williams; son-in-law, Revius Q. Williams

Leketia Barner Dozier, Esq.

The Worldwide Christian Center

 

Church administrator at The Worldwide Christian Center, Leketia Barner Dozier, Esq. serves alongside her husband of 37 years, Pastor O’Neal Dozier. Together they have one daughter and one granddaughter, and Pastor Dozier has two older daughters. Both licensed attorneys, Leketia formerly practiced family law and now works with a variety of prominent lawyers on personal injury cases. Over the years she also taught in the Broward Public Schools before taking on a larger role at the church. Now in addition to her administrative duties, Dozier coordinates special services and events for the church and leads the women’s ministry, which hosted an annual tea prior to the pandemic and continues to meet monthly. They’ve covered topics ranging from self-defense to etiquette for ladies, including a presentation on purity before marriage by Tewannah Aman, executive director of Broward Right to Life. Since COVID, Dozier has also taught messages for the ladies on not being afraid and praising God at all times.

Dozier said The Worldwide Christian Center gives to 22 missions outside the church and operates a food bank out of their fellowship hall. When asked which ministries were especially dear to her heart, she mentioned, “We love giving to the Gideons and getting the word of God in people’s hands. But Hope Women’s Centers and Broward Right to Life are very dear to my heart because I know, at least in the black community, that a lot of girls use abortion as a form of contraceptive or instead of contraception. And they’re using this over and over again, killing a whole lot of our people. I heard that of all abortions performed in the U.S. about 33 percent are on black women, but only about 13 percent of the population is black. Abortions are killing off the black race. It’s really sad and it hurts me.”

 

What do you believe is God’s calling for you?

I would say that God has called me to stand beside my husband to assist him in raising up the church in these last times in any way needed. My husband does not compromise the Word of God and God is calling for that in these last days.

 

Is the role of women changing in the faith community?

I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade, but I really don’t think women are called to pastor. We have a lot of that going on right now, and I don’t see it in the Word of God.

 

What Bible verse has encouraged you?

My verses are Psalm 91:5-7 (KJV), “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; Nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; Nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; But it shall not come nigh thee.”

 

What was your most challenging time as a mother?

The challenging time as a mother was in our daughter’s teen years when she left home right after graduating high school and went to live with another family and their son. We were at a church event and when we came home, she was just gone. It was a stressful time with her leaving like that, and I just could not let her go like that. So, I would have lunches with her and kept communications with her. Eventually she ended up staying with my mom and then ended up getting married.

 

What was your most rewarding time as a mother?

Well, now our daughter is a very successful cosmetologist, she got married and we have our first grandchild, and her name is Righteous. Those are the rewarding times. And she’s also my hairdresser.

 

Advice for women and mothers:

Keep the faith!  Even though it may look like it’s hard at times, keep the faith and God will bring you all through it, including your child.

 

 

women of distinction
From left to right: Reina Lomenick, Dede Osborn Lomenick, Rachel Lomenick and Delaney Lomenick

Dede Osborn Lomenick

Rio Vista Church

 

Founder of the Unleashed Women’s Movement, Dede Osborn Lomenick is a gifted speaker, Christian comedienne and creator of “The Divine Momedy – Word to Your Mother,” an unforgettable show combining stand-up comedy and song. She and her estranged husband Matt Lomenick, former executive pastor at Rio Vista Church, have three daughters, one natural and two adopted through foster care. “I always wanted to adopt because I was adopted as well,” said Lomenick. For years, Lomenick served on the women’s ministry at Rio Vista Church, did a lot of volunteer care and was on staff for a time doing children’s ministry.

How did she get into comedy? “Over a decade ago I was really ill and while I was laid up, I began reading about standup comedy. I wrote some funny skits for church. Then a friend who was doing a comedy thing asked if I’d like to open for her. I said, yes! And it just felt like this was exactly what I was made to do.” She uses her comedy as a type of ministry. “Comedy has a way of having people relax and let down their guard, then you’re able to look at our humanity and our struggles and put some deep truth in there.”

In 2019 Lomenick set into motion a new vision God gave her for a movement of women, Unleashed. It developed into multi-church weekend conferences where women could learn to live in the freedom only Christ can bring, connect with others and leverage their gifts to do big things for Christ. More than 600 women attended the Unleashed from 60 different churches, and they continued it the following year before COVID hit.

 

What do you believe is God’s calling for you?

I think it would be comedy, but also authenticity, and not authenticity just for shock value, but instead just being able to get us past all the cultural niceties and really be more honest about what we’re dealing with.

 

Is the role of women changing in the faith community?

I would say I don’t think it’s changed enough. As of today, women have very limited roles in the denomination that I’m currently in, which is the PCA. It doesn’t mean that women need to be in charge of everything, but I do think that God gave women different outlooks. Each brings something different to the table, and they might be able to explain things differently when talking about a passage of scripture or praying. I feel like we’ve missed out on the voices of some incredibly gifted women.

 

What Bible verse has encouraged you?

“Delight yourself in the Lord and will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

 

What was your most challenging time as a mother?

The biggest challenges have been most recently, continuing to encourage them in the gospel when they’re very confused about what they believe. The only thing I can do is continue to try to live out the fact that my faith has not changed. My desire to see them in godly marriages has not changed, and I still believe that God ordained all those things.

 

What was your most rewarding time as a mother?

It is a joy to watch your children assimilate their faith. I think the most rewarding thing is to watch how this unfortunate situation has bonded them in ways they weren’t bonded before. It doesn’t mean they didn’t love each other, but God is using this circumstance to kind of teach them how to hang on to Him and how to minister to each other.

 

Advice for women and mothers:

I think culturally, everybody has something to say about every single age of kids. Newborns are so exhausting. You’ll never get to sleep again. My kid, he’s two. Oh, those are the worst, then middle school and high school… I’ve spoken to tons of people just about speaking words of life about their children instead of pre-deciding that those are all going to be horrible stages. Every stage comes with wins and losses, but the bigger thing is to choose to enjoy them at every age, which is not always easy.

 

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