It’s 1983: Tony and I are in Seoul, South Korea. The insurance money from a burglary has given us the excuse to visit Tony’s parents in Hong Kong. We’ve left our kids with them while we visit the largest church in the world–at that time around 350,000 members–where Dr. Paul Yonggi Cho is the pastor. When we get there, the temperature is fifteen degrees below freezing, and with no heating in the church guest facilities (we are the only visitors crazy enough to go at that time of year) we need to go out frequently to warm up.
One of our outings is to the administrative building of the church. We are wandering around the offices, reveling in the central heating, when a man approaches us.
“Would you like to visit with Dr. Cho?”
I have to admit that my first thought is “I’m not dressed appropriately” (jeans and boots and as many layers as I can fit on)!
We have about twenty minutes with this humble man of God. Towards the end of our conversation he says he would like us to communicate three things to our nation. The first two concern prayer and fasting. It’s the third I’ve never forgotten.
“Tell your nation to empower your women. You people in the West will never see a move of God until you use your women.”
Dr. Cho attributes the phenomenal growth of his cell church in part to the fact that he empowers women–47,000 of his 50,000 cells are led by women and two thirds of his 600 associate pastors are women.
Could this be true? In those nations where there’s currently a massive harvest being reaped, women are a vital part of what is going on, being used by God in extraordinary ways. Is our misunderstanding of the Scriptures and our legalistic following of the letter of the law concerning women actually preventing a move of the Holy Spirit here? When women are relegated to supporting men, the body of Christ is robbed of half its potential.
The group of women I work with spent some months looking at the role of women in revivals. We were investigating whether women in strategic leadership positions have any impact on revivals. One of our conclusion was this: there are classically two types of revival. Some are over very quickly (think Wales, Hebrides, Indonesia etc) while others last for decades (China, Korea, Wesley and Methodism, Zinzendorf and the Moravians). Our conclusion? Those that last for decades empower their women.
What could happen in the West if women were encouraged to step into their full potential without the usual restrictions placed on them? Could this release a move of God?
What do you think?
Photo credit: Christopher Jetton (Creative Commons)