In the capital of Uzbekistan, a heavily Muslim country, Lisa found Jesus.
And then hard times found her.
When she was still a teenager, her mom died. She left Lisa with an apartment, which would’ve been a big help — except that other family members wanted it for themselves.
So they made Lisa’s life even harder.
“Lisa was forced to leave Uzbekistan to save her life, leaving everything behind,” Oleg Turlac said.
She landed in Moldova. That’s when she found the Baptist college.
And that’s where she met Turlac, a Beeson Divinity School graduate who moved to the former Soviet nation to teach theology at the college.
“She wanted to study missions so that she could then tell people from different cultures about Christ,” Turlac said.
And that went well until funds began to be an issue.
“Seeing this, I remembered about the Second Century Fund, of which I read on the website of Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU),” Turlac said. “I decided to apply for a grant for Lisa. Because of funds received through the grant, Lisa was able to finish the college program. She graduated in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in missions.”
And she hasn’t slowed down since.
Lisa is now serving in a small town in southern Moldova, reaching out to young people and teaching at the town’s only Baptist church.
Along with Galina, her friend and fellow graduate of the Baptist college, she started a tailoring school with the purpose of teaching a trade to girls at risk of human trafficking, Turlac said.
It’s a vital ministry, he said. “More than 100,000 women have been trafficked out of Moldova by human traffickers since 1990. In the town where Lisa ministers, school has been closed and teens had nowhere to go.”
So Lisa held summer camps for them, and during winter she and Galina would gather the teen girls into the mission station and have Bible study, do crafts and teach them tailoring.
“Lisa is saving the lives of these young women from human trafficking,” Turlac said. “Personally, I have seen few people as dedicated to ministry as Lisa is. In spite of very challenging circumstances, God is using Lisa to reach people for Christ in the former USSR.”
The ongoing fruit of Lisa’s $2,000 grant in Moldova is one of many ways WMU Foundation is seeing the impact of the Second Century Fund continue years after the grants are made.
The grants have been providing women’s leadership training domestically and internationally ever since the first four Second Century Fund grants were given at WMU’s Centennial Celebration in Richmond, Virginia in 1988.
Ruby Fulbright, current chair of the fund’s awards and nominations committee, said it’s an indescribable legacy.
“Only heaven will know the impact the Second Century Fund has made on countless women in leadership here in the U.S. and around the world,” she said.
Fulbright said she saw the grant’s impact close to home when she was serving as executive director of North Carolina Woman’s Missionary Union from 2002 to 2012.
“It was the Second Century Fund that helped us start an amazing leadership training in the western part of North Carolina. It was a difficult place to get work started, but a bold group of WMU women started and the Second Century Fund provided the start-up funds,” she said.
And in the time since, she’s seen these women and others become a “force to be reckoned with.”
“WMU — nationally and on the state level — is stronger because of those who continue to see value in leadership training and development,” Fulbright said. “I personally, and on behalf of an organization that trained and nurtured me, am grateful.”
This article first appeared in the February 2017 edition of Missions Mosaic.