A Deeper Belonging

It was May 2014 when I declared emphatically to my sister, “I am done.” I had lived in the land of women’s ministry, a foreign land, for six years and was ready to return to where I had the deepest sense of belonging—children’s ministry. I had been dutiful and obedient in this new land, but I was disillusioned and tired. I was ready to cross the finish line and resume my familiar, preferred life of ministry.

Today, I am happy to report that God had a better plan. I did not leave the land of women’s ministry. I stayed and experienced the joy of a deeper belonging because of a gracious invitation.

In the narrative of Ruth, I find parallels to my own experience. I found myself a stranger in a foreign land, knowing I had journeyed there to draw near to God. My love for God was strong, but my sense of belonging with those around me lacked integrity. Ruth was not automatically accepted by the women of Bethlehem; yes, they were all women, but Ruth was a foreigner, a Moabitess. I was graciously accepted by the women I now led in my role as national director of Alliance Women, but in my own heart, I kept a distinction between us. I desired to be a woman in ministry but not in ministry to women!

We can be on the same team, occupy the same space, and still experience a disconnect from one another. We need someone greater than ourselves to declare that we all belong. In Ruth’s experience, it was Boaz declaring, “Stay here” (Ruth 2:8). In my story, it was Jesus Himself saying, “Stay here” at the Alliance Women table; “You may not feel it yet, but I know that you belong here.”

As I obeyed and stayed, I experienced an inner transformation that can only be explained by the faithful work of God. I did not ask for it because I wouldn’t have believed it possible, but I found my capacity to love women increasing. As my love grew, my sense of belonging grew as well. Those who once seemed foreign became “my people.” I know how stubborn and willful I am, so this deeper belonging must be credited to God alone.

Now, as I prepare to conclude my tenure as national director, I declare with deep gratitude, “I am not done; I will stay.” Yes, I will step away from a title and a team, but my availability to women will remain. I will stay in this once foreign land and live day by day, keeping in step with the Spirit. Where will the next chapter of my story lead me? Only God knows.

But this one thing I know: I belong.

May it be so for you as well.

All glory be to Christ.

Jen Vogel

Jen served as national director for Alliance Women from 2015-2023; she serves in a variety of ministry capacities, including on the President's Cabinet for The Alliance. She enjoys reading, travel, and completing the New York Times crossword puzzle daily. Jen and her husband, Doug, attend Dover Avenue Alliance Church in Orange City, Iowa.

16 Responses to “A Deeper Belonging”

  1. Thanks, Jen, for your faithful ministry. I have always enjoyed hearing your heart as you shared these posts. So glad you chose to serve women! You have led us well – Woohoo! I had a chance to meet you twice in the past, once in the North Central District and once at Council. Loved your commitment to women. We will miss you, but we celebrate your future ministry! 🥳🙏🏻 Much JOY to you! 😍

  2. Jen,
    Thank you for your transparency and your beautifully woven story. I have never worked with you directly, but can relate to your words. I often felt out of place when I held positions in Alliance Women, but my love and loyalty for this women’s ministry continues to grow.
    Thank you for obeying the voice of our Lord.

    • Susie – Thank you. May God continue to grow you in the joy of a deeper belonging. Perhaps some day we will have the gift of meeting each other in person.

  3. Thanks so much for your leadership and devotion to our precious Savior. May God give you overwhelming joy as you step
    into this new chapter of your life.

  4. It was a privilege to serve with you Jen in earlier years of your AW directorship. Thank you for leadership and encouragement, your gracious acceptance of your Team and all that you poured into our lives. Thank you for your ministry with Alliance Women as a whole and the impact your life has had on so many. May you be richly blessed as you move on to the next chapter of your journey with the Master.

    • Thank you, Patty, for helping me get off to a good start in my leadership. All God’s best to you.

  5. Jen, I thank God for your leadership of women in the Alliance. I’m grateful for the voice you gave to all of us as you sat on the President’s Cabinet. Your writing and speaking have encouraged me personally. Your influence for women to be fully conformed to the image of God in every way will continue. Thank you for Spirit-filled leadership.

    • Thank you, Janet. This has been a delight and an honor I did not expect. All glory be to Christ.

  6. I’m glad you chose to stay, Jen! God went before you and you’ve done a wonderful job ministering to women. Praying for you as you move forward into whatever God has for you next.

    • Jen, I know you as our National Leader and will remember you as a person of poise, strength, and leadership. This how I felt after seeing you and hearing you speak at the Women’s Retreat on “Whose Table Do You Belong”. I may not have the subject exactly correct, but that was the crust of your message and I loved it. I pray that you will continually allow God to use you in ministry to encourage and uplift others. Blessings ❣️ on/in your journey with the Lord.

      • Yvonne – Thank you for your gracious words. I am confident that God will lead and equip for whatever comes next. May you, also, continue to find your life and joy in Jesus.

    • Thank you, Terri, for your kind words. I have enjoyed journeying with you. Together, let’s see what God does next!

  7. Thank you for sharing Jen. I have been a recipient of her love for women because she has chosen to come alongside me in a strange and unexpected season. You are a blessing my friend. I am grateful to journey with you. You make me feel belonged too.

    • Thank you, Cary. I know your words come from a very deep place and I receive them. God is kind.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *