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Made as a Woman

Woman's Silhouette in WindowBy Ann Chen

A well-known female preacher recently wrote some reflections about the treatment of women around the world, and recounted her own experience facing discrimination as a woman in ministry. As I enter a season of transition from being overseas to stepping into full-time ministry in the States, I’ve been recounting my own journey as a woman navigating a call into ministry.

I don’t think I’ve faced the type of overt discrimination I’ve heard others go through: women who were told that they had no place in the church except in the nursery, others who were hit back with 1 Corinthians 14:34 if they expressed any opinions, even others who were told that a desire to go into ministry was actually sinful and of the devil.

However, I can recall subtle experiences here and there where I was discouraged from being who I am fully as a woman minister. I’ve heard people comment about the presence of so many “strong women” in my college fellowship, and they didn’t mean it as a compliment. A pastor once mentioned to me that he’d prefer a man to lead worship but since there weren’t any, that was the only reason I was allowed to lead. I’ve seen opportunities given to men that were never offered to me.

It made me think, where might I be ministry-wise, if I were a man? I’ve never thought to enter the pastoral ministry and still don’t feel the call to do so, but has that been influenced by the fact that nobody has ever encouraged me to do so because I’m a woman? And if I had decided to pursue pastoral ministry, would most doors get slammed in my face? Even where I am today, I’ve felt the need to advocate for myself and self-promote, oftentimes far beyond my normal comfort levels or personality. It has been frustrating at times being a woman in ministry. Wouldn’t it just be easier to be a man?

Then I remember, God has made me to be a woman. I love being a woman, and it is a good and beautiful thing, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God intricately designed me to be female, and He also intentionally called me to serve Him full-time.

As I navigate this tension, I’m reminded of the story in Mark 14 of the woman in Bethany who comes up to Jesus and anoints Him with expensive perfume. The men in the story chastise her for her act. While the text merely has these men outwardly questioning stewardship of the perfume, I can imagine the thoughts going through their minds: Who does this stupid woman think she is? Look at her being so wasteful. We walk with Jesus, and she obviously has no idea what it means to do God’s real work. She doesn’t belong here.   I imagine in that moment, the woman felt discouraged, even crushed in her calling to anoint Jesus, just like the times in ministry where women have been subtly (or not-so-subtly) dismissed.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Mark 14:6-9 (emphasis added)

Jesus’ response is so different to the other men. He sees her, acknowledges her love and desire to serve Him, and affirms what she did. And he takes it one more step beyond. He says that her act would be preached throughout the world for the rest of time. He never says this again about the mighty men that walked with him: Paul, the disciples, Peter, John. He says it about a woman who has chosen to love Him with what she knew, somebody who had been rejected by the other people standing in the room. He honors her.

When I think about this story, my heart is brought to a place of peace once again. I am a woman and I have been called to serve my King. Perhaps the other people in the room might discourage those of us who are women, misunderstand us, or even discredit us, but the One who matters doesn’t. And He sees my heart and my desires to serve and love Him, and He receives the gift only I can give as a woman, affirms who I am, and honors me. That makes it completely worth it.

Ann Chen was recently serving in Malawi, working to see a discipleship making movement raise up amongst the Yao.  She is an International Staff member with Epicentre Church and has a degree in Intercultural Studies at Fuller Seminary

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And So I Wait

Photo by Mike Behnken

Photo by Mike Behnken

(In her previous post, Tina shared her inner ache to serve in Christian ministry again, even as a mom with a baby girl only just turned one.  A continuation of her reflections…)

By Tina Teng-Henson

I do not shape my life or direct my steps. I do not even know if I will have a tomorrow, honestly. Continue Reading »

Photo by Kasia

Photo by Kasia

By Melanie Mar Chow

How do we know Jesus loves us?  Not just the ways the Bible tells us how much the Father loves us, how Jesus sacrificed his life for us as an act of love, or how we love because Jesus first loved us.

I have been considering this more and realize that people need to know about the powerful love of God in more tangible ways.  As a campus minister, I am reminded by the honest cries of youth.  Continue Reading »

Photo by Ryk Neethling

Photo by Ryk Neethling

By Wendy Choy-Chan

When I first considered going into seminary, a church friend asked if I had a calling to full-time ministry.  My answer was, “not really…  I just love to study the Bible and what I am getting at church and elsewhere is not enough.”  She then said, quite bluntly, that I shouldn’t go because I didn’t have a calling. Continue Reading »

Photo by The 5th Ape

Photo by The 5th Ape

By Diana Gee

“But God chose the foolish  things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”   –1 Corinthians 1:27-29
 
I don’t like being weak. One of my earliest recollections of weakness was when I was a toddler. I wetted my pants while someone else was in the bathroom.  I stood in the hallway crying in front of the bathroom door. And instead of being sympathetic, my mother gave me a scolding. It was so unfair! I couldn’t control it. Why was I being punished?

Continue Reading »

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