Women answer the call to ministry: Zhanna Petrovna, Central Asia Field

This month we at NCN News continue our series on women in ministry in the Church of the Nazarene’s Eurasia Region, courtesy of the region’s communications department.

From its very first days, the Church of the Nazarene has recognized that God calls women into preaching, teaching, and other forms of ministry just as He calls men. 

Women have played an integral role in expanding God’s kingdom around the world. In the Eurasia Region, women serve in numerous leadership roles with Nazarene Missions International and Nazarene Youth International, as local pastors, missionaries, district leadership roles, and the list goes on. Just last year, 30 women were ordained in Bangladesh – the largest group of women to be ordained in denomination history. The region also has three women serving as district superintendents — the most women to hold this position in any region.

This series will highlight five women who hold key leadership roles in the region: three district superintendents and two field education coordinators. They are just a few among many women whom God is using to shape the church in Eurasia.

God continues to call and anoint women to lead and expand the Kingdom around the world. The Eurasia Region is opening doors for women to fulfill that call.

This week’s feature: Zhanna Petrovna, Central Asia Field.

Zhanna Petrovna has been the district superintendent (D.S.) of the Central Asia District for the past two years. She was ordained in 2007.

Eurasia Communications (EC) talked with Petrovna about her experience as a woman in ministry, both in her home culture and in the Eurasia Region.

Eurasia Communications: How did you come to be in this position?

Petrovna: The missionary from Korea, Park Michael, was the D.S. of the Central Asia District. When he left to Korea, I became the D.S.

EC: What was your ministry role before being a D.S.?

Petrovna: I was the interpreter of Korean language during 13 years. I was the district secretary; for four years I was the pastor of [a church]. I was the leader of women’s ministry. I was, and continue to be, the administrator of EuNC [European Nazarene College] in Central Asia Learning Center.

EC: How did you see God preparing you for this leadership role?

Petrovna: I had EuNC courses in Moscow and St. Petersburg with missionary Park, then we came back and taught the students of Nazarene churches. I had translated many books for believers, lectures from Korean language into Russian language. I was the leader of the Bible study group.

EC: How did you first get involved in church ministry and why?

Petrovna: I was an interpreter and I took part in every service in the church.

EC: What are the different activities and responsibilities that have been part of your role as a district superintendent?

Petrovna: There are 11 churches of the Nazarene in our district. They are situated far from each other. I want every church to be a member of the Central Asia family. I want to pray for each others’ challenges so we could enjoy everything together. I tried to visit every church once or twice a year.

EC: In your society, what are the normal, accepted roles for women?

Petrovna: The women are the active members in various spheres of society.

EC: In your society, is it unusual or is it common for a woman to have this kind of leadership role in the church? In other areas of society?

Petrovna: In our society, it is unusual for a woman to have this kind of leadership role in the church. In other areas of society, it can be more common.

EC: What are some of the challenges women face in your society?

Petrovna: If there are two candidates – a woman and man – for any work or position, the man will be chosen.

EC: While you have been D.S., what are some milestones in your district that you are proud of?

Petrovna: I am proud of the revival of the church in Stepnogorsk. We had no local leader in this church and it was almost destroyed by incorrect doctrines. Now there is a local leader, a woman pastor in Stepnogorsk church. She loves God and loves every man and woman.

EC: What have been some of the greatest challenges your district has had to overcome?

Petrovna: Recently a new law concerning religion was approved in our country. This law causes problems to our ministry because, practically speaking it will be very difficult to register our churches again and it is almost impossible to found new churches. This is the most difficult issue that we face in our district.

EC: Have you had any personal challenges as a woman leading a district of churches?

Petrovna: I have faced no challenges in ministry concerning the fact that I am a woman. I have some opposition, but it is not because I am a woman.

EC: Do you think your role as a D.S. has influenced Nazarene women in your district?

Petrovna: I do not think that it has a special impact on women Nazarene in particular.

EC: What do you love most about your ministry?

Petrovna: Pastoral care.

EC: Do you think God is increasingly calling women to lead in the church in your district or in our region? Why or why not?

Petrovna: The majority of our congregation are women; they are more sensitive and obedient to the call of God. That is why we have many women that are leaders.

EC: As a woman, what special qualities do you bring to your role?

Petrovna: Some pastors and leaders call me “our mother;” that is why I think that this “mother’s care” feature is exactly a very special characteristic of a woman.

EC: Do you feel God is calling more women into church leadership in our region or globally?

Petrovna: I think that God calls both women and men and He waits for those who will say, “Here I am to be in Your will.”

EC: Tell us about your family.

Petrovna: I have a husband, two sons that are married, two grandsons and one granddaughter.

EC: Do you have a favorite Scripture verse that has encouraged you?

Petrovna: 1 Corinthians 1:25: “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” It was an all-in-all verse in my life; because of this verse I put away my ego and pride and opened my heart to God.

EC: How can our regional and global church family pray with you for your district?

Petrovna: Please, pray for us so we could always be constant in our faith, commitment and love towards God regardless of the circumstances that we face.

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