Learning from African-American women

Published 8:15 pm Wednesday, November 9, 2016

By Tonya S. Swindell

I have the pleasure of knowing and occasionally spending time with five African-American women who served as apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher. The uniqueness of each woman’s ministry and personality is special. And their investment in my life is invaluable.

Apostle Caretha Crawford and I became relatives when I married her cousin. She is senior minister and founder of The Gateway to Wholeness Church Ministries and In Pursuit of His Presence Worship Arts Ministries.

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She mentors me in person at least once a year and occasionally over the phone, through emails or via text messages. She leads by example, with a regal but quiet and strong demeanor.

Apostle Crawford wrote and published “Dance, God’s Gift to You” and “Hold On to Your Dreams.” I was one of 21 women who shared personal stories of success in her newest book, “Determined to Succeed.”

The confidence I gained from contributing to her book propelled me further as a writer.

Prophetess Karen Seymore Portman, director of the School of Prophecy for Kingdom Building Equipping School, is diligent, focused and inclined to deliver a prophetic word, which propels people into their God-given destiny.

She taught me how “practicing the Lord’s presence” can lead to greater spiritual discernment.

I met Dr. Phyllis Young at a Tasha Cobbs concert in Norfolk. She is founder of Miracle Christian Center in Hempstead, N.Y., Phyllis Young Ministries Inc. and a yearly women’s conference called, “There is a Queen in You.”

Dr. Young flowed under a heavy evangelistic anointing when I heard her preach. Her gifts of healing and prophecy were confirmed by people who testified about the goodness, grace, mercy and saving power of God.

On more than one occasion Dr. Young challenged me to “get out of my comfort zone” and follow God’s leading. Her autobiography, “The Journey”, also inspired me.

Chaplain Kimberly Willis spoke with passion and authority while preaching at the Franklin Murphy Chapel in Hampton. My friend, Hattie, called her “pastor” when she introduced us.

Chaplain Willis is a U.S. Air Force veteran, and she is the newly installed Director of Chaplaincy at the Hampton V.A. Medical Center.

An inspiring quote she is credited with saying is: “Don’t let your hindsight be your insight to your foresight.”

Teacher Juanita Smith is the founder of Kingdom Building Equipping School, for which I am a teacher in training. Juanita is recognized as a “teacher of teachers,” skilled at explaining context and practical application of scripture.

She consistently leads by love, while guiding others into spiritual truths. I am in awe of her stamina and wisdom. Juanita authored “What I Believe – Open Letters to the Women of Something Different.”

I appreciate the tenacity, strength and dedication of women who study to show themselves approved unto God. And I’m blessed to have relationships with distinguished African-American women who function effectively in roles as apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher.

Their influence has positively impacted my life.

Tonya Swindell writes a blog for www.inspirenewlife.org and a teacher for Kingdom Building Equipping School (KBES.com). She can be reached at 1brightot@gmail.com.