Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Women's Ministry.

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus ~ Romans 16:3

A friend, a dear sister in Christ who has made herself newly known to me, has left some of the most interesting thoughts in the comments section.  Indeed I have found them so inspiring I want to put this one in particular out here for your thought & consideration.  Please, please be thoughtful & considerate in your responses!  Sylvia has bravely shared her soul so be gentle.

I will quote this section in full.  Sylvia wrote:
As for women preaching, in my native country women preach a lot. While it is tempting to say feminism has crept into the church, IMO it is a response to culture. My native country has buses segregated by sexes, a ladies only compartment in a commuter train, ladies only schools and colleges etc. And in many churches even in cities men and women sit separately. I did not find it different or odd until I came to America. In villages it is more complex as well as orthodox families from other religions. Many women will not enter a room where strange men are or even show their faces to men other than those related to them through blood or their husband, not even to a father-in-law. The only way to preach the gospel to them I have seen is through another women.

Oh how my heart lept within me at these words!  I do not know Sylvia's country of origin.  I know very little except what she has so kindly chosen to share with me here but this, to me, is terribly, terribly important for the extension of the kingdom.  Sylvia has stated a very important truth.  Sometimes the only way to reach women is through other women!  If you reach women you reach their children ~ & even their husbands!

This is probably the best argument I have heard for encouraging our daughters into ministry ~ not to usurp men, but to reach women!  Dare I suggest that women are often more open to spiritual matters?  Within the home sphere they wield considerable influence.  It is no secret I believe the Spirit uses who He will for His purposes, man, woman or child.  We can safely leave the men to the men.  They speak a language I do not understand but who will preach to the women?  Do we damn them to hell because we believe & teach a woman is not to speak or teach?  That she should not preach? That is not the heart of Christ!

Even should a woman come to Christ, if she is submitting to Christ as she should she will be submitting to the dictates of her husband & still ~ the only way to reach her, to encourage her, to uphold her, is through other women.  Oh my dear, dear sisters in Christ, have we been so rigid in our interpretation of scripture we have forfeited the souls of countless women for whom Christ died? 

May He give us hearts of flesh to replace our hearts of stone!


Amanda said...

Amen... Ganeida, what a blessing your blog is, to have Sylvia come by and comment. We can have such a limited perspective on things, until our eyes of understanding are opened by others around the world.

Just as Sylvia was accustomed to her culture, ie women being segregated from men in all facets of life, her perspective was changed by her move to USA. Most of us have no idea how the other half live, until we read such comments as these.

Great post Ganeida... I enjoyed this one immensely. I feel like we have been given a treasure from the Lord via all this.

Ganeida said...

Amanda: I was so convicted by her comments. Not that Sylvia was in any way judgemental but isn't the important thing to get the message out there ~ by whatever means are available. And if that means putting a woman in the pulpit, so be it!

seekingmyLord said...

Seems the Lord is talking a bit louder now, eh?

And you know how much I enjoy a change of perspective!

Bonnie said...

A big amen to this. Thank for you sharing Sylvia's comment. We do so easily forget or overlook how many others live. I always think of the missionaries and how so many were and are women. There is a reason for this. Even my mother, who is a pastor, does her best work when reaching other women for Christ. Now, if only we were all so willing to be used for His purpose (myself included).

Ganeida said...

Seeking: Now what makes you say that? ☺

Bonnie: I think women have a different way of looking at God's message ~ more personal, less theology.

Sandra said...

Hello from the middle of America. : ) I don't have a comment on the topic, just popping in to see what is on your mind. Plenty, as usual!

Kate said...

Thankyou to you and Sylvia for sharing your thoughts - that's a perspective on the issue I hadn't thought about.

Sylvia said...

Very powerful post.

Thank you for the kind words though I do not have the age, wisdom or experience.

Ganeida said...

Sandra! You reappear like the proverbial genie with bizarre timing lol. Post prior & after are on farming yet you land on this one! lol Should I be worrying about something for you ~ fire, flood, extreme brain drain?

Kate: Me either. ☺ I am still hinking about the implications of this one.

Sylvia: Truly, I love a new perspective. This one really has me thinking. It has huge implications for the misson field & how we think about spreading the message ~ & therefore how we train the people we send.

Sandra said...

Well, as you know, a pestilence has been brought upon me! I'll blame it on the dogs though.

You would also know, I am sure, that I do not subscribe to a notion of male superiority or female submission.

Perhaps I reappear at these times to have a voiced opinion? Ah, but it is not my business as long as it does not become the law of my land. : )

Ganeida said...

Sandra: lol You are such a funny, funny lady. I miss you when you disappear. And I don't recall saying anything about male superiority because we all know ;P that women are superior & smart enough to keep the fact to ourselves! Actually my ideas on submission might be closer to yours than you'd think but that is a topic too long & complicated for the comments box. ☺

Sylvia said...

"It has huge implications for the misson field & how we think about spreading the message ~ & therefore how we train the people we send. "

How do we train people to go into the mission field ? Very nice question.

I would personally look to a culture of a country on how to spread the gospel. And go without any preconceived notions on 'this is the only way'

For instance in some places covering of the head during worship helps though people may not necessarily agree or think it is required.

Second, we cannot always assume people have the ability to read, have a written language or access to a bible. If those in the mission field are well versed in the bible and can quote verses from memory but lack the ability to connect with the audience by means of a simple story or parable like Jesus did, many people will not be reached. Seen it happen too many times.

Third, What is the goal as a missionary ? How do we define 'success' ? Is it conversion or preaching the gospel ? Is it a numbers game as in 'how many souls have we reached' or 'how many have we baptised' ? There are some people who cannot be baptized even if they accept Christ because it may mean ostracisation or worse death. The phenomenon of secret christians is very true even today.

IMO, our job is only to plant seeds. It is God who will nurture, grow and harvest.

Thank you once again.

Ganeida said...

Sylvia: our job is only to plant seeds. It is God who will nurture, grow and harvest. Agreed.
It is of particular interest to me because my older girl is *called* to missions. What I am finding absolutely fascinating is how the Lord is preparing her ~ & it is all in very practical ways for the culture she will enter.

She is farming alpacas. Alpacas are native to the country she will enter. She is learning more about permaculture & wants to do an alternative energy course ~ all ways she will be useful & knoweledgable & helpful to the people she wants to reach with the good news. I believe the Lord has shown us that she will need these things in her future. Someone once said something along the lines of you can't feed a person's spirit if their tummy is rumbling & I have learnt the Lord is very practical & very holistic.

I have no idea how you count *success*. I only know obedience. If the Lord sends, you go. If He calls, you follow. If He says, "speak", you speak. If He says, "Be silent", then you remain silent. The rest is up to Him.

Sylvia said...

I have followed your daughter's journey as she prepares for the mission field. I think it is so wonderful that such a young person is called and more so is willing to go.

On the topic of 'success', I think I should elaborate further. I am by no means an authority on anything so I do not want to give an impression of that.

However, I was involved in a very small capacity for a number of years in my native country in spreading the gospel through our church youth mission in rural areas in my teens. We used to go for a few short hours on the weekend. It involved giving medicines, teaching people to read, write, count (basic literacy), teaching them sanitation, making water easily accessible (they had to walk a long time to the source of the water and it was very unsanitary, we taught them things like boiling it to make it safer) etc. They were quite wary of us in the beginning. Took a long time to build trust. And we did spread the gospel.

When I speak of this, many people in America ask 'how many people did you save'. The answer is I do not know neither do I think that should be quantified. We did not refuse help to anyone who was not interested in listening to the gospel nor was it the only reason we were there. Which I think is very important.

I have personally seen many people who are baptized and become christian, but then go back in a matter of years or months. My ancestors were converts too by British missionaries. At a time when my native country was colonized by the British. They had to leave property, family etc. The work of those missionaries has stood for generations. I think because they lived among the people and spent years among them.

I do not know the answers or solutions to 'how to do this', but I also think the focus should be on spreading the gospel not on counting the number of converts or baptisms which many people seem to equate with 'success' or 'failure'. I hope I explained that well.

Thank you.

Amanda said...

oh wow!! this is fantastic... loving the comments, Sylvia. I am hearing Truth and wisdom...

joyfulmum said...

Wow, so much seems to happen when I'm away from blog land for a few days lol!
Great post and great comments too!
I am so glad Sylvia is contributing to this great discussion!

Ganeida said...

Sylvia: Thank you for sharing so much & so freely. It gives me a far better understanding of culture differences than I would otherwise have had ~ & that's all good in our cosmopolitian world.

Amanda: Agreed. It's been a really great discussion, hasn't it. sylvia has contributed so much!

Rosemary: Well, if you will stay away...;P Nah, I'm sure you also have some interesting experiences to share.

Ember said...

Really interested to read this, because much has been stirring in my heart around the same issue.
I feel a call to preach and teach the Gospel, but increasingly what I feel at peace with is the prospect of this taking place in groups of women (and/or children).

I've changed my retreats to being women-only groups, and my housegroup is all women. I am holding in my heart the thought of beginning a 'Women Praying For Healing' group.

In the past I used to be very keen on open, inclusive groups, but I feel a leading more in this direction now. As with other matters, I find that when I follow this intuitive leading, the reasons why it's a good idea become clearer after the fact of following, rather than in advance.

As to submission, I am blessed by the Scripture that says 'Submit to one another'.

Ganeida said...

Ember: I am so pleased you chose to enter this discussion & share your thoughts as I know you have been in ministry yourself. In our home group we see the husband/wife tag~team & that seems to me a good example but it would only work publically when both are equally called & equally educated. If there are churches already doing this I haven't met one.

I wish those who taught so fiercely on women's submission were equally adamant about this one ~ the one you quote. When you put them together you have the mutual respect, kindness & fellowship that should be seen amongs believers. However, in the case where one is a believer & one is not I think the onus is on the believer to be the *bigger person* ~ always, because they have Christ. ♥

joyfulmum said...

Ganeida, just came back to say that our pastor and his wife both preach at our church, I'd even go so far as to say his wife is the better preacher, even dh agrees:) btw, she is on my blogroll on the right, she is a bright and very articulate young lady!

Ganeida said...

Is that Matron Down Under? I have her on my blog roll too.

joyfulmum said...

Yes that's her:) oh I didn't realise you had her on your blog roll!
she has a zillion friends (a true extrovert) so please don't be offended if she doesn't reciprocate:)

Ganeida said...

No, not at all offended. She writes a witty post which is why I added her. ☺

joyfulmum said...

Yes, she sure does:) I have often thought about how you are similar to her in your being able to be witty and articulate:) I'm glad you're following her, she does make me laugh seriously with some of the things she writes....she is exactly like that in real life too!

MamaOlive said...

Without reading the comments (yet!), I'd say that there is a world of difference between a woman speaking to women and a woman taking a position of authority over a mixed congregation.

Also, I'd like to suggest that if a man were properly converted he'd lead his wife toward Christ as well. But a woman converted has a very tricky situation between her new knowledge/zeal for Christ and her renewed love and commitment to her husband.
If you can only convert one of the genders, work on that one. But in the grand scheme it would make more sense to encourage male preachers. But you knew I'd say that. ;-)

Ganeida said...

MamaO: you make very good points; such a lovely logical mind you have! ☺ Sylvia, any thoughts on the matter?

There is however a problem ~ more single women
are on every mission field than men!

Frontiers said In 2002 women comprised 75 percent of their short-term team applicants to the muslim world.

More stats here: Scroll down to Marti Smith. These are the only stats I could find but it certainly bears out Liddy & my antecdotal experience ~ & when Lid went to pre~field training there were certainly more women than men, married or single ~ & it has been this way since 1910. And the women are signing up for the really hard places! Go figure.

There is a problem when you say only men because we are simply not seeing the men volunteering for the mission field & when they do they tend to be married & less eager for the more dangerous countries. Certainly if the men will go that is optimum but where are the men?

Oh & in Lid's group ~ those going to countries with a high possibility of martyrdom were all single women!

MamaOlive said...

There's nothing to stop a woman ministering to women. That's good and right. But if men are lacking, we don't need more women, we need men! How to get them is another problem all together...
I just mean that we can agree women are great at what they do, but that doesn't mean that they are equally great at what men do.

Ganeida said...

lol MamaO: you know I agree with you. ☺ The men are absent from our churches too ~ the stats are scary ~ & even scarier out here. Any ideas on how to get the men?