The prompt to write this blog came unexpectedly while reading a short but unusually candid post, from, of all sources, FaceBook . This thought provoking, bold post was from an old family friend we have known for many years.
The basic premise of the FB post was a lecture she had heard about the full participation of women in the life of the church. She recalled how as a young student, she had to come to terms that pursuing a career as a pastor or evangelist was not really an option for her, being that women were not accepted for those roles. She felt that it was positive to be discussing these options and that hopefully, the next generation of women have more opportunities and not face similar barriers.
Just as I finished reading her post, I recalled instantly two very remarkable Scripture verses by two different Apostles – independently! The first scripture is from Peter, who went to visit Cornelius, the centurion, in Caesarea. Remember, Peter was an ordinary fisherman who abandoned his “net profession” to follow Jesus and to become instead a “fishers of men”. In Acts 10:34-35 “… I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” (You and I included!). That was an extremely powerful statement/commandment from God Almighty through Peter the Apostle. I wonder how seriously we have taken it?
The second scripture reference is from Saul of Tarsus who was quite different from Peter. He was definitely not a member of the twelve, but a scholar, and a “Pharisee and the son of a Pharisees”, who was privileged to sit and learn at the feet of the famous and distinguished Guru (Sanskrit word for a great teacher), Gamaliel. Saul accepted Jesus as his Lord on the road to Damascus when he encountered the Saviour and became, just like Peter, another disciple of the Lord. He later wrote as an apostle “For God does not show any favouritism” -Romans 2:11. These two verses should excite any and every Bible believing follower. I am sure you have observed that both these Apostles used those powerful words independently of each other, yet almost verbatim.
I take these powerful statements, therefore, to mean the divine mission ought to be shared with joy and with everyone. In other words, every follower of Christ has a ministry, whether strong, feeble, rich or poor, education degree, male or female! The responsibility is great among our leaders who must gently and wisely select, supervise and then delegate for the extension of God’s kingdom from among all persons. Not an easy job; therefore pray for the leaders! Remember, responsibility involves not just preaching but also training/mentoring, channelling and then delegating, always remembering “we are all in it together”.
I have a family friend who was the Chaplain of 8 Wing Royal Canadian Airforce (base) Ontario. Prior to his post in the Airforce, he was a pastor in a small church who had an annual routine. Once a year he has his entire Sunday Morning Service assigned and conducted by “non-clergy” by lay members (not ministers) of his chapel. Great wisdom, what a great idea!
This “good news” must relentlessly spread and not be tethered with cultural and gender baggage and restrictions. It begs the question then why are there not more gifted, capable, talented, God fearing women serving as Preachers, Teachers, Evangelists, or a new crop of future Missionaries like Mother Teresa, Mother Amy or “mother” (Mrs) Huldah Buntain? I am privileged to have known all three (especially Mrs. Buntain who was my pastor’s wife, Rev. Mark Buntain) of them from the good old city of “Oh Calcutta” now called Kolkata! Yes, praise God, changes, progress and advances are happening worldwide, albeit at a snail’s pace.
I am closing this post with the following challenging thoughts for my next post #128:
(a) Old Testament women like Deborah, Abigail, et al
(b) Mary the mother of Jesus and Elizabeth. (recall the “Magnificat” in the New Testament, St.Luke 1:34-55)
(c) Thinking of Mother Mary reminds me to look at the worldwide Catholic convents, Schools, Residence for Seniors, Universities, Hospitals, worldwide Institutions like Convents and Hospices by their consecrated Mothers and Sisters worldwide ?
(d) The witty dialogue between the Canaannite Woman of Tire & Sidon and Lord Jesus (Mathew 15: 21-28 – one of my favourite verses)
(e) The discourse between (heathen) Centurion and Jesus, Luke 7:6-9
(f) (Space permitting) I will also add the ministry of women, especially in South Korea, with their large (830,000 strong) Church. Their Pastor Yonggi Cho wrote “these women became the “backbone of the church”.(copied from Darrin J. Rodgers)
God bless, Danny Paul