(Photo: Paul Wharton Photography)
The first ever Pastor's Wife of the Year Award went to a South African woman who has been in the job for 29 years.
Jenny Carstens from Cape Town helps run two international schools alongside her husband, the Rev. Casie Carstens. She teaches some 120 children basic skills and the Word of God. And the children are AIDS orphans.
"She is unbelievable," commented Becky Hunter, president of the Global Pastors Wives Network, on why Carstens was honored.
The award was given at GPWN's annual Free 2 Soar conference which concluded Friday with some 600 people. This was the first time the network collected nominations and presented the Pastor's Wife of the Year Award.
Being a pastor's wife is an "amazing adventure," said Carstens, who expressed gratitude to her husband for providing her with the opportunity to minister alongside him.
"For me, it's a great passion and joy," she commented.
While her husband pastors a church - Vredeluht (Love of Peace) Community Church - of some 3,000 people, both Carstens emphasize ministering to the hurt both inside and outside the church.
At the international schools, at which some 100 countries have been involved in, according to Hunter, the children are educated and inspirited to express their faith.
For the last two years, Carstens has taken the children to the United States on a choir tour to perform at various churches and plans to go for a third year beginning this October.
As a pastor's wife, she encourages others like herself to identify with the needs with the community at large.
"I would like to encourage them to bring Christ to all areas of life, not just to church on Sundays, but into the marketplace and the business place, and into the community that is hurting to give the church the opportunity to share salt in these areas and in other countries," said Carstens.
The Global Pastors Wives Network was founded by Dr. Vonette Bright, the co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, in 2002. The network was originally founded because almost 50 percent of pastors families worldwide were going through some sort of divorce issue, said Hunter, and Bright felt a burden to give pastors' wives support.