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Posts Tagged ‘women’

All the time I challenge people—and especially God’s daughters—to discover who God made them to be and to live out what He created them to do.

All of us—occasionally or as a way of life–settle for less than God’s best for us.  Sadly, we women are often encouraged to settle for less, or readily choose to, robbing ourselves and the Body of Christ of the best contribution we have to make.

The mission Christ gave us requires what we have to offer.

man_in_wheelchair

So click on over to Jenny Rae Armstrong’s blog to read Limping Along: Why We Can’t Let Half Christ’s Body Atrophy.  I’m so grateful to be guesting with Jenny.

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Sheryl Wudunn

A major focus of my life and ministry is to challenge women to believe God for the more He wants to do in and through their lives.  I write and speak about this a lot.

But for many women in our world, they can’t think about potential and becoming all they can be.  All they can think about is survival.

I have had the privilege, on several occasions, to meet and listen to Sheryl WuDunn of Half the Sky tell stories about the realities for women in many parts of the world.  The research she and her co-author husband, Nick Kristoff, did on the atrocities and oppression of women around the globe was devastating and hopeful.

The subtitle of their book is Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

When I spoke in Ethiopia recently I recounted the story of a woman who was left to die by her family because a fistula disabled her and the stench was unbearable to others.  She crawled to another village with a missionary hospital, had the fistula repaired, met Jesus, finished school, went on to become a doctor and returned to start a fistula hospital.

You can hear Sheryl on Ted here:

18 min

On Wednesday I will post a fascinating video interview of Carolyn Custis James, author of Half the Church, and Chai Ling, Chinese activist and founder of All Girls Allowed.

What about you?  How can you help turn oppression into opportunity?

c2012Judy Douglass

Related post:

Only a Worthless Daughter?

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The man who led Ethiopia from the fall of communism in 1991 until the present, Meles Zenawi, died this week.  His illness and whereabouts occupied much conversation when I was in Ethiopia last week.

Generally revered by many of the people, Zenawi was credited with enabling the nation to weather drought and war and economic downturn to become a fairly stable republic with a growing economy.   Poverty, still starkly evident, was not so pervasive as I had seen 10 years ago.   Roads and infrastructure were clearly improved.

I also know that God is working in amazing ways in Ethiopia.  Students are boldly going, at risk of their lives, to share the gospel where it has not been welcome.  Churches are growing and spreading—and cooperating.   Leaders have sensed that women are key to reaching families, neighborhoods and workplaces.

A few women, brought together by Martha Hilawe of GCM, began to pray–for 40 days, then 30 days, then 21 days.  Participation multiplied.  The vision and interest spread.  The intial plan to reach hundreds of women expanded to equip thousands.

Women: Key to Transformation

So for the 8,000 women I was with last week, the primary topic was how God could use them to bring transformation to their country.  The Rise and Shine National Women’s Conference was sponsored by the Great Commission Ministry (GCM) and many churches.  Coming from churches throughout the country to Addis Ababa for five days of inspirational speakers, practical training and lively worship, the women were tireless and enthusiastic.

As one of the “inspirational” speakers, I was surely the one who was inspired.

An amazing worship group opened and closed the conference.  Twenty minutes of non-stop singing, dancing, rhythm, with props and percussions.  I was almost as exhausted as they were as they concluded.

The beautiful women, quite distinct in features and coloring from other parts of Africa, sang, swayed and danced to the frequent worship interludes.  They frequently, in unison, bent over and swung their arms back and forth in shib sheba—dancing as David danced—with palms open to the Lord’s plans for them.  From that they moved to clapping, then hands raised above their heads, swaying side to side.

The distinctive Ethiopian trill repeatedly punctuated the worship and the messages, signifying enthusiastic agreement.

 

 

 

 

Amens and Hallelujahs

As a speaker, I appreciated the encouraging Amens and Hallelujahs!  I was awed as I surveyed the crowds spreading in three directions, protected from the rainy season by the church’s tin roof, with sides open to the elements.  They squeezed together on hard benches, breaking only for lunch and waiting in long lines for the few toilets.

I loved sharing with them about God’s intentions in making them women: in His image, as ezers—strong warrior helpers called to serve alongside their brothers in blessed alliance.  The Lord had me change my next two messages.  We talked about giving all to Him—and seeing what He will do with it.  And we ended with an emphasis on grace.

My friend Elizabeth Schenkel spoke three times about God using these women to make significant differences where they lived as they ministered in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Erick Schenkel enabled us to soar with the eagles and run in the Olympics with his devotional.

Shocking Reality

Inspiration transitioned to application.  Sessions on leadership, family and the use of Magdalena, a moving  version of the Jesus Film told by Mary Magdalene, for sharing the love of Christ helped to equip them to return home with effective ministry.

Probably the most powerful session, though, addressed issues concerning women in Ethiopia.  A young professional woman presented staggering statistics concerning forced child marriage, abuse, abductions and female circumcision.  Then she made her point vividly by showing an horrific video of a young girl undergoing female genital cutting.  I can still hear her screams.

Conference leaders felt that, although many women in the audience would have experienced that procedure, most had no idea how widespread it still is.  Hopefully the shocking video will cause many to rise up against such practices.

GCM director Damtew Kifelew gave the closing challenge, exhorting them to pray,  to plant thousands of churches–so that there was a church in walking distance of every person.  To reach children and students and families. To transform Ethiopia with the love of God.

My purpose was to open their eyes to their value in the sight of God.  I hope I did that to some degree.  But truly my eyes were opened to a passion and oneness in the Lord that touched me deeply.  I was reminded once again of my privilege—of the comfort I live in, of the relative ease of almost every aspect of my life.  And of the incredible privilege to be friends with such women.

I hope I encouraged them as they walk with God.  I know they challenged and encouraged me.

What about you?  Who challenges the comfort of your life?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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I love to read the stories of the people God has used powerfully throughout history.  And I especially get challenged when I see women of God who surrendered all to Him.    Their words are kindling to my spirit, starting fires in my heart and mind.  Here are five of my favorites.

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc, mystic visionary, military leader, martyr, heroine of France:

“One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying. “

“In God’s name! Let us go on bravely!”

 

Catherine Booth

Catherine Booth, co-founder of The Salvation Army:

“If we are to better the future we must disturb the present.”

“Here is the reason why we have such a host of stillborn, sinewless, ricketty, powerless spiritual children. They are born of half-dead parents, a sort of sentimental religion which does not take hold of the soul, which has no depth of earth, no grasp, no power in it, and the result is a sickly crop of sentimental converts. Oh! the Lord give us a real, robust, living, hardy, Christianity, full of zeal and faith, which shall bring into the kingdom of God lively, well-developed children, full of life and energy, instead of these poor sentimental ghosts that are hopping around us.”

Amy Carmichael

Amy Carmichael, missionary to India, rescuer of children, founder of Dohnavur Fellowship:

“But God is the God of the waves and the billows, and they are still His when they come over us; and again and again we have proved that the overwhelming thing does not overwhelm. Once more by His interposition deliverance came. We were cast down, but not destroyed.”

“Missionary life is simply a chance to die.”

Corrie ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom, survivor of Nazi concentration camp, author of The Hiding Place:

“Hold everything in your hands lightly; otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”

“Trying to do the Lord’s work in your own strength is the most confusing, exhausting, and tedious of all work. But when you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the ministry of Jesus just flows out of you.”

Isobel Kuhn

Isobel Kuhn, missionary to China and Thailand:

“I believe that in each generation God has called enough men and women to evangelize all the yet unreached tribes of the earth. It is not God who does not call. It is man who will not respond!”

“The difficult lessons of 1942 taught me to fear leaning heavily on human props. I had surrendered husband, child, friends, all I possessed, long ago. But this was something deeper. This was relinquishing my rights to them. This was holding them, but on the open palm of my hand…. Affection, especially with intense natures… runs to excess if given free rein. Uncrucified love runs to inordinate affection and selfish possessiveness which blights rather than blesses.  When we allow the Lord to nail our affections to the cross (to use the scriptural metaphor), we do not cease to love. We love even more widely, but it is a love stripped of corrupting influences. Love is not killed – only the seed of corruption in natural affection is killed.”

What about you?  Who has started fires in your heart and mind?

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I had the great privilege of writing and editing with Bill Bright for 14 years.  One my favorite articles of his was one about the three people who had influenced him the most in life:  his mother, a single church leader/educator and his wife, Vonette.  I am going to let him tell you about each one over the next few weeks.

First, though, he shares some of his perspective on Jesus’ view of women.

For thousands of years, with few exceptions, women have occupied a lowly place in society.  Prior to the time of Christ, women were regarded as little more than slaves or sex objects.  Frequently they were looked upon as merely property to be dealt with as the men wished, or as something of no importance.

Even the Orthodox Jews then (and some still today) said in their prayers, “Blessed are You, Lord God… for not having made me a woman.”

Our Lord performed a revolutionary role in elevating women from their bondage.  In the case of the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus broke several social customs to speak to her about her spiritual needs.  He knew she had a heart.  As a result she brought practically the entire town to hear the words of life.

Women of wealth, women of no wealth, religious women and immoral women were liberally sprinkled among the multitudes who crowded around our Lord to hear His words.  He had a special concern for the spiritual condition of women.

Through spending His time and exercising His compassion for them, Jesus showed that women are very important in God’s plan.  And women are equally important in our day as well.

Today women in our society are taking on roles that have much more visibility than in the past.  Others still work in more traditional, behind-the-scenes ways.  Women in both roles are vitally important.  Both have the potential of making a long-lasting influence for Christ on our world.

I suppose that I appreciate as much as anyone the impact women can make in our world.  The three most influential people in my life have been women.

Next week:  Bill’s mother.

C1987 Campus Crusade for Christ, inc.

Bill’s Mother  >   Dr. Henrietta Mears  >>   Vonette Bright  >>>

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You know the drill, girls:

Don’t go anywhere with a stranger.  Look in the back seat before you get in your car.  Keep your purse close.  Walk with confidence, eyes straight ahead.  Don’t post where you are going on Facebook.  Keep a close hold on your drink at parties and bars so no one can drop something in it.

In many nations, these are the risks women and girls face.  They are real, and can be frightening, and occasionally life threatening.

But around the world, girls and woman face greater risks:

Starvation—available food goes first to boys in the family.

Debilitating illness—available health care goes first to boys in the family.

Marriage in her early teens.

Serious injury or death in child bearing.

All kinds of abuse at the hands of her husband.

Violent rape by gangs of militia.

Or, in some places, being aborted or killed at birth—for being a female.

Watch with your heart this video trailer on gendercide:

It’s a Girl!

What can you do to make a difference?

Reading Half the Sky and Half the Church would be a starting place.  Then take action where you can–those books make many suggestions.  You may not be able to change it all by yourself, but you can make a difference.

C  2011 Judy Douglass

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Each of us wants to believe that we matter. That we have something to offer. That our contributions to building God’s kingdom are needed and valuable.

But as I travel the world speaking to women in ministry, I have found a substantial obstacle to seeing that happen. One might think the biggest barrier would be convincing men that women are needed for this assignment, but that’s not the most difficult challenge.

Convincing women

A greater challenge seems to be opening the eyes of women to see that we are mission critical.  That the task of Kingdom building will not happen unless every daughter of God is prepared and equipped and given opportunity to make her best contribution to the mission at each season of her life.

That certainly fits with God’s view of us. Ephesians 2:10 assures us that we are God’s workmanship and we are created for specific good works. He made each of us uniquely who we are, to be equipped to make the unique contribution that He has prepared for us. I am the only one created for the works God has for me. You are the only one formed for the purposes God has for you. Each of us is truly critical to God’s mission in this world.  What a hopeful vision!

Unique contributions

Key to that contribution is the growing discovery of who we are—the workmanship God has wrought in us. We work and serve and find out there are some things we are good at—and others we are not so good at. We take faith risks and grow and develop in our gifts and abilities. Hopefully, then, we increasingly serve our Lord with those gifts, accomplishing the good works He has prepared for us.

Because the task is so vast and needs are so great, we often seem to just fill in and get the job done. And that is sometimes necessary. But each entity/body/church within the Body of Christ will be far more effective and fruitful, and people will be far more assured of their value, when each person is consistently operating out of giftedness and strength. This is especially needful and challenging for women because of the great variation in cultural expectations, seasons of life and developmental opportunities.

It won’t happen without women

A second need, if we are to see God’s mission on earth accomplished, is for God’s sons and His daughters to understand that the job will not get done without the contribution of women.    We readily acknowledge that they are the primary ones who will win and disciple children and other women.  If God’s daughters are not empowered to live out their faith, millions of women and children will not be reached.

But there is more.  Throughout Scripture we see that our God practices good stewardship.  He tells us there is accountability for our use of what is entrusted to us.  Jesus even gathered the leftovers after feeding the 5,000.  So surely that same accountability applies to all the resources God has given us for fulfilling His great commission.  He has given us finances, tools, training—and most importantly, people—human resources.

More than half of followers of Jesus are female.  Half of our human resources are women.  Surely our Lord has no intention of allowing us to waste that important resource!  He has given us—together–all we need to do the job.  But every time we do not equip and empower a woman to make her vital contribution, we are wasting what God has provided.  We are settling for less than could be.  Fewer men and women will be in the Kingdom because part of the work did not get done.

Women are mission critical—You are critical to God’s mission!  We will never accomplish what God assigned to us as His children unless all his children—sons and daughters—are making the contributions for which He created them.

en español:  ¿Son cruciales las mujeres en la misión?

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