Behind every powerful male figure in history there has been a woman; there have also been women who have risen above all odds and wielded tremendous power. Queens, princesses, presidents, ambassadors, heads of state, successful business women, wives, mothers — all running, organizing, informing or supporting some type of organization or institution. Indubitably, God has given women a certain type of wisdom mixed with deep emotion and spiritual ability that gives us the capacity to influence and change people’s lives while making our mark in history — good or bad.
Women have helped define some workplaces with our beliefs, intelligence, designs and styles. Although in some circles it has never really been politically correct to share our faith for fear of being ridiculed, isolated, ostracized, or for fear of losing a promotion because of it, women are finding that the power of God lies within.
For Dr. Grace M.A. Stephens, President and Chancellor of MacCormac College in Chicago, where she serves as the first African-American and first woman to hold this role, this truth is clear. “For so long, as professional women, we have chosen to keep our faith to ourselves,” she said. “What happens is you become a closet Christian. And in becoming a closet Christian, you are unable to truly develop your gifts and talents because you are hiding God in a pocket or in a closet. You think, I know He is the reason why I am successful, but this is my little secret. I am not going to share it because I don’t know how people are going to react.”
In early 2016, when Stephens founded The Global Christian Professional Women’s Association [GCPWA], she did not turn to the Lord in desperation looking for work. In fact, he recruited her. After achieving key leadership positions at major universities around the country, and as an executive for Kaplan, Inc. and Goldman Sachs & Co. on Wall Street, Stephens felt the Lord’s calling to start this association with a mandate: empower women to be the salt and light of this world.
Hour of Power
This revelation came to her one day as she was praying and praising the Lord for everything he had done in her life. From her education to leading positions, to that hour of Bible study he had put on her heart to start at the MacCormac College a few years ago. “Train up, and send people out. That’s what I felt obligated to do,” said Dr. Stephens, who had been fused with wisdom, knowledge, and new ways and approaches of doing things, and in godly ways. “When I came to MacCormac College, which is a non-Christian institution, I saw young people walking on the campus, many using profanity and not dressing appropriately. So, the Lord put on my heart to start a Bible study on campus. I asked the Board if it was okay to do it, and they supported me,” she said, affirming that getting the approval of key administrators first is very helpful. “First came the students, then I started getting faculty and staff.” The Bible study started to grow and the next thing: they began praying before every semester in the classrooms, with anointing hands over every seat. “We would pray quietly, not as part of any formal thing because of course, this is not a Christian college. But the staff and the faculty who were came together and prayed. And don’t you know? We started to see change in the environment, like Christ said would happen,” she said.
In praying, they started seeing students begin to change the way they dressed and talked, not using profanity between every other word, as is the norm on most school campuses these days. The faculty and staff began changing too, respecting one another, not succumbing to trivial fights, which is also so common in institutions. Even the new staff that started coming to the college were found to be Christians. God was clearly recruiting them.
“It all started with an hour of prayer; we called it the Hour of Power,” explained Dr. Stephens. For some of their students who live an hour away from the college to be on campus by seven in the morning for the Bible study, they had to leave their homes an hour before. As a result from that hour of prayer, the college began to retain more students and see more of them graduate. “I saw how the power of Christ in us can change an institution,” she said. “Even our performance improved and our enrollment began to increase. Everything we touched seemed to prosper.”
God’s revelation to Dr. Stephens ignited in her a new flame: to educate, empower, and inspire women to be the salt and light in their environment. In her life, she had been mentored by professional women, but she had also relied on her church elders and spiritual mothers to provide that balance in perspective between what the world says and what God says. In the end, she would always let God lead. And that has been the key to her success, and now she wants to give that key to other women in the world.
“The Lord said that he would put us up on the hill so that the whole world can see that we can be a beacon of light. We are in our workplace but people see us and wonder, ‘What makes [Insert your name] different?’ We should be able to say, ‘The reason I am like this is because…now, you may think it is because I have all of these credentials and degrees, and fantastic portfolio, but it is truly God in me. It is Christ who lives in me that makes me this way. Let me tell you about it.’ There you go…now you’re carrying out the Great Commission; you’re forming disciples, which is why we exist.”
We are living in a world where there are so many places that don’t know Christ. And in her mission to carry out the Great Commission, Dr. Stephens has been talking to global corporations to bring GCPWA’s seminars that talk about how to bring Christ into the workforce, to their doorstep. Companies are attracted to her offer.
Always looking for ways to make their employees lives better and to make them more whole, companies have added gyms, daycare centers on their premises, or special working arrangements to work from home on specific days or situations. Why do they do that? Is it because they really care that much about their employees? Yes, but they really care about the bottom line: productivity. In a world where depression and mental illness is on the rise, employers are looking for answers and ways to keep their staffs healthy: mind, body, and now even soul.
“A lot of times, people don’t know what else they need, but they’re seeking some type of relief,” explained Dr. Stephens. “So, companies are realizing that many of their employees are going to churches or trying to engage their faith in order to make it through the day sometimes. Companies are looking for ways to align more with people’s faith.”
GCPWA is bringing together like-minded women who desire to be the best that they can be through Christ in order to achieve their greatest potential. If you want to find out more, visit their site: www.gcpwa.org.
Maritza Cosano is a freelance writer/editor, writing teacher and author of young adult books. She offers editorial and publishing services for writers and can be reached at [email protected]