Parakaleo Newsletter Our vision is to see every woman in church planting trained, supported and valued.

Welcome to our quarterly newsletter! We will be rounding up Parakaleo news on a quarterly basis for you.

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NEWS: executive director transition

It is with deep gratitude that the Parakaleo Board of Directors announces the transition of Shari Thomas to Director of Global Strategy beginning April 1.

Shari has spearheaded new ministries through Parakaleo that have helped build more healthy church planting ecosystems around the world. As the organization’s first Executive Director, her leadership, fortitude, and grit were instrumental in developing Parakaleo into a ‘come alongside’ ministry dedicated to helping women in church planting thrive. In her new role, she will continue to forge new ground by developing partnerships in global cities as Parakaleo continues to bring its mission to church planters around the world.

On her transition, Shari states: “Tami Resch and I started Parakaleo with a calling, a vision, and $500. The executive team has created a strong foundation, and yet we need to dramatically increase our organizational leadership and fundraising efforts to fulfill our vision of seeing every woman in church planting trained, supported and valued. I have been overwhelmed by God’s goodness in sustaining and growing Parakaleo during these years. But now is the time to focus on finding an Executive Director who can lead Parakaleo into the next phase of our calling. It was a joy to found a ministry for women in this unique role. I eagerly anticipate handing over the leadership to others so I can return to my love of taking this relational gospel message to new areas.”

As we seek a new Executive Director, the board has identified three priorities for the coming months: developing a sustainable funding strategy, lowering training costs and developing better succession planning moving forward. With these key focus areas in mind, we are pleased to announce that the board has selected Todd Naille to serve as Interim Executive Director effective April 1, 2019. Todd not only brings his extensive experience in fundraising and ministry but is also well-acquainted with Parakaleo and is in full support of our mission and values. The board is confident that Todd is the right person to lead the organization and the executive team over the next twelve months as we seek a long term Executive Director for the organization.

On his transition, Todd Naille states: ”It has been my joy to watch the ministry of Parakaleo grow from Shari and Tami’s humble vision to come alongside a handful of church planting wives to its current global reach. While church planting, my wife and myself, both got to be the recipients of such great support and encouragement. I am excited to champion the cause of “coming alongside” and thrilled to serve at this moment of Parakaleo’s growth spurt!”

With Todd in place, we will be seeking the input of staff, board members, the Parakaleo community and others as we trust God and seek a permanent Executive Director. Thank you for your continued support as we move on to a great new chapter for Parakaleo. Now, as always, we depend on your faithful prayers that God will give us courageous grace, insight, and stamina in the high calling of joining Christ in his worldwide campaign of renewing all things.

The Parakaleo Board of Directors

2018 annual report

2018 was a big year for Parakaleo. We saw tremendous growth and continue to be in awe of all God is doing through your generousity and our leaders around the world. Review the highlights from 2018 here.


Utako Grateley

Originally published on Redeemer City to City's Blog

When my husband, Damian, and I entered into church planting, we were too excited to consider any negative emotions or possible hardship. We were the kind of people who wanted to see every sickness and sin defeated but failed to see and trust God’s bigger story in the midst of suffering. With less than 1% of the Japanese population declaring themselves to be Christian, we praised God for each conversion and loved watching God move in people’s hearts. Unsupported by an organization, we established various businesses as a way of providing for our staff and ourselves. Each month we witnessed hundreds of unbelievers passing through our building and socializing with members of our small Christian community. We presumed our plan was working well until the day our business partner quit, taking with him a large number of clients and a portion of our income.

During the months that followed, I felt disillusioned with God and with church. As news spread, the sense of betrayal became overwhelming, and I realized how lonely life as a pastor’s wife can be. On the outside, I remained strong, but inside I was screaming, “God, get me out of here!” My momentum dropped, my pioneer-spirit cracked and hope slipped from my heart as I recalled other pastors’ wives who were also struggling to stay afloat. As the darkness became increasingly unbearable, my inner voice protested, “God, I did everything I could do for you, so how could you let this happen to me?” I realized church planting had become about my effort and not good news. The gospel had become something I preached to others but not to my own heart. In my time of need, God brought Parakaleo into my life.

Parakaleo is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to come alongside women in church planting and create a relational space for these women to experience a robust gospel that frees them to embrace and live their truest identity. It trains us with tools to coach our own hearts in the gospel, and the fruit of that will be expressed in our marriage relationships, family and the church. Being the first Japanese woman exposed to Parakaleo, I have been journeying with them through virtual cohorts, leadership training and apprenticeship to be better equipped to bring these gospel tools to women in Japan.

Japanese culture places huge expectations on authority figures — a pastor’s wife is no exception. Like our husbands, we need someone to come alongside and invite us into the “gospel dance” (a Parakaleo phrase referring to repentance, faith, love and obedience). During my first Parakaleo retreat in Singapore in 2015 July, I relearnt the freedom of just being me — as God’s beloved daughter. It was a profound experience, which not only opened my eyes to the depths of the gospel but also reawakened my compassion for others and enabled me to freshly embrace the role God has for me.

My journey is not uncommon. As Christians, we all have moments when we succumb to external expectations as the truths of the gospel leak from our hearts. But using the tools provided by Parakaleo, we, the wives of church planters, learn to coach our own hearts in the gospel. We assist one another to better understand our own stories within God’s bigger story of grace. Whilst many church planters network together with other like-minded pastors, the wives are often left out. Their need for someone to come alongside them is just as vital. Please pray for our humble beginnings here in Japan, and join with us in seeking to provide these women with the necessary tools to flourish.

After growing up in Japan, Utako lived for six years in the UK, before graduating from Bible college and marrying her British husband, Damian. They returned to Japan in 2002 and spent the next thirteen years church planting in Shikoku. Utako and Damian moved to Nagoya, Japan in 2017 to lead Grace City Church. Damian is currently the director for the GraceCPNetwork, a multi-denominational network that assists church planters in Tokyo. In 2015, Damian participated in the CTCAP Intensive, and Utako had her first taste of Parakaleo. Utako is currently serving as a Parakaleo trainer and group leader, as well as working for the “Joy of Japan Center” (a ministry which focuses on church planting and church revitalization). They have three boys—a fifteen-year-old and twelve-year-old twins.

training snapshot

Parakaleo training is theological, practical, visual & memorable!

Women in ministry are seen as safe people to share stories and circumstances of pain and struggle. Often, they find themselves feeling ill-equipped to respond. What do you say when someone is vulnerable with part of their heart or story? In our desire to point people to Christ, we can tend to first respond with some type of spiritual reassurance that sounds like a pat answer, or awkwardly share our own story, explain, solve and/or ask a lot of questions.

In the Alongside Coaching Intensive, we teach women that a great first response is some form of re-dressing. Redressing is a practical way to give words to honor the naked vulnerability.

Here's an example: Celina shared a deeply personal struggle ending it with "...and I have no idea what to do now."

COVERING SHAME WITH GRACE: "Celina, your story doesn't make me want to run away but to draw close to you and sorrow with you."

VALIDATING PAIN WITH EMPATHY: "Celina, thak you for trusting me with this paintful part of your life."

AFFIRMING DIGNITY WITH TRUTH: "Before we talk about what is next, let me say I see you now and your contrite heart is beautiful."

writer's retreat

Parakaleo's group of gifted content consultants met in-face for the first time to brainstorm, tweak, conceive, and dream.

The writers gathered in Florida for a 4-day writer's retreat hosted by a generous donor. The goal of the retreat was to revamp training for online classes and rework the flow of content for the implementing cohorts which will be placed in printed journals.

The writers also had the opporuntiy to dive into the content for Parakaleo's Gospel Lens Lookat cohorts on Forgiveness, Resilience and Cultural Intelligence which were launched in 2018. These cohorts take the issues we face and invite us to explore how to navigate them in community.

Stay tuned for more updates and registration details!

Maria Garriot, Intercultural Development Consultant
Ruth Ann Batstone, Curriculum Consultant & Gospel Lens Assessor

Here for Her

Church planting is a unique calling. We consistently hear from women in church planting that they were unprepared for the challenges they faced and do not have access to resources or training.

Will you be here for her?

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