Refresh Stories: Cherice Stoltzfus
This month REFRESH Stories is featuring Cherice Stoltzfus with Nameless Collaborative! She has nearly twenty years of ministry leadership experience as well as co-founding several businesses and kingdom projects with her husband Dwayne. Out of her heart to encourage and connect women in leadership roles, she founded Nameless Collaborative, a ministry dedicated specifically for serving and connecting leaders worldwide. She and Dwayne live in North Texas with their five children ranging from teenager to toddler. This is such a great story about women supporting each other. We hope you are encouraged and inspired by Cherice’s heart!
Tell us how Nameless got started.
My husband and I have been in leadership/ministry positions since we were saved as teenagers. We started our first business out of our home in 2006, then moved our family to China to start a ministry there in 2010. It was around this time that I realized I had some close friends in my life, but I was really longing to be surrounded by women who were leading on the same level I was. Other women who understood all the dynamics that go along with leadership. So I began to pray specifically for the Lord to bring women like that into my life, and He has more than answered. Over the past several years, He has brought so many of these women into my life! Last year He began to tug on my heart to do something with all of the these specific relationships He has given me. He showed me such a need for women in leadership to join together. I felt like He wanted me to provide a place for women in leadership to come together in community, collaborate and partner together in their ministries or kingdom minded business, and I also knew He was calling me to serve women in leadership, because they are always the ones serving.
How have you implemented this vision God has given you?
There are three parts to Nameless Collaborative: through serving, we want to build a community of women in leadership; encourage collaboration and partnerships within their ministries/businesses. Also, to serve them and their individual ministries and businesses.
The main thing we have done to provide this is by holding a quarterly Nameless dinner. We rent a venue, cater food and set up a sweet environment for the ladies to come into. We want them to feel special and loved on and to serve them. We are very intentional with every detail and spend a lot of time even just praying over the seating chart.
At the dinner, we have a lot of time for the women to fellowship and build relationships. We have questions at each table for women to be able to share on a deeper level concerning the work God has entrusted them with and really get to know each other. They get to talk though things that have helped them or challenges they have had to overcome. Then we have a short worship time and a short word. I ask different women to speak at each dinner. It’s just meant to be a very short encouraging word on leadership. This is really secondary to letting new relationships and connections form.
One of the challenges has been the connecting and collaboration during the dinner. It hasn’t happened on the level we would have liked, so we are launching our Nameless Roundtables in October of this year. This will be a much smaller group, 5-7 women sitting around a table strategizing together. We are having them fill out in depth questionnaires so we can connect the right women together. The vision for the roundtable is to let them have a think tank together. In this group, they will be able to more openly and easily talk about their ministries and the challenges they may be facing. They will all be able to speak into each other's’ lives and solve problems together as those relationships deepen.
When did you start Nameless?
We launched with our first dinner last November. I feel like the Lord gave me the vision last August and I didn’t know what to call it or what it would look like. After praying I didn’t feel like it was supposed to have a name really because it is not about one individual ministry or one work of what one woman is doing. I felt like this community was supposed to be called Nameless.
It’s not about a ministry, it’s about the kingdom of God and women coming together to expand the kingdom by partnering together.
What steps did you take to get the ministry started?
Just like the vision for the ministry, I knew I wanted to work together with other women to form this community. I began to tell women I trusted about the vision, and they became the ones who really helped me launch Nameless initially. I also brought together a small advisory board from all different generations. They have been a great support and asset to our team.
Have you had moments in the journey that have set you back or wanted to make you quit?
Yeah! All the time. Lately though, I have been really encouraged. I have such an even greater appreciation for people who step out to start what God has called them to now. Sometimes I think I tend to take things too personally and that can make it feel like a rollercoaster. It’s like everything is going so well and then the doubts, questions and discouragement come in. I have been learning how to separate myself from this ministry I have been entrusted with. If it is God’s, I need to be less concerned with how it turns out and instead trust Him with the vision He has called me to carry out.
What has kept you going?
I feel like I know I am supposed to do this. He put it in my heart to do. I know there will be challenges, but I have to keep pushing through.
One thing that has helped me is the actual community that has been formed through Nameless. I am just as much a part of the community, and when I am discouraged, I am surrounded by women who either have or are walking through the same thing. We are a great community coming together in unity to support each other.
Do you ever get discouraged by people not understanding what you are trying to do?
Yes, but normally I only share the vision or about this community that God is forming with women that the vision fits, in leadership and will benefit by being apart.
Is this your main gig?
Well, I have 5 kids ages 16, 14, 11, 8 and 3 and I homeschool 2 days a week. We still have our ministry we started in China and have a team here in the U.S and a team in China. We also own an investment company working with different businesses. So I’m not busy at all... hah!
The good thing about all of this is that I understand a lot of what the women may be going through as mothers, business owners and leaders in ministry, and I know how important it is to have other women who understand to lean on.
Where are you at in the journey and where do you hope to be?
We are less than a year old, and I am really excited about our future especially since our last dinner. The vision is starting to come together and watching it unfold is breathtaking. We are growing at a good healthy pace, and in this next season I feel like that will continue.
I want to grow, but I want to have something that is operating so well here that it is able to grow internationally as well. Last April, I went to Japar, India, to meet with a team of 9 women leaders from all over Asia. We were able to collaborate with them and spend time with them. What they told us was that this kind of community is one of their biggest needs. They need other women leaders to talk to and get encouragement and community from. I feel like this is needed all over the world and I want to be able to duplicate it and bring it to them. They need the support too. That would be our long term goal.
Once we get this DFW Nameless running well, I also want to teach or help other women to start this in their own communities. Life is so much richer and inspiring when you can walk with other women who are in your same position and challenge and cheer each other on.
What kind of advice or encouragement do you have for other women trying to pursue their own purpose in God?
When God gives you a dream or vision, be encouraged to trust Him and step out in it. Don’t let fear hold you back. You will be discouraged and face battles, but stay consistent and faithful and don’t let those things stop you.
Find a team of people who are gifted in other ways to come around you and cultivate their gifts. Not one of us can do it alone. If we join forces we can do so much more to advance the kingdom. It’s not a competition. We are better together!
Written by Kelli Sommers
Kelli Sommers comes from a long line of storytellers and comedians. Through her stories she hopes to inspire others to know how much God loves them.
Kelli is married to a complete opposite who loves to watch her fly. She has 5 beautiful kids and serving her family is one of her greatest joys in life, but bedtime is one of her favorite times of day.
Kelli loves to read the Word and that’s the only book she has time for right now. If she is not at home picking up messes, you will find her out with a friend, having a long talk and some good food (probably tacos). She is passionate about unifying women. We are better together. You can find her on her blog and instagram.