What if: could it take this to see a move of God in the West?

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)

  • Tim

    This all comes down to one question. Are you willing to obey God’s Word or not? Our methodology is not determined by what “works”. Our methodology is determined by God’s word.

    • felicitydale

      It also depends on one’s interpretation of Scripture–not just the specific challenging Scriptures but also the tenor of the overarching themes of the Bible. Equally, the Holy Spirit doesn’t contradict himself. He isn’t going to use women in one part of the world and not another.

      • Tim

        I must be missing something here. Paul makes a crystal clear statement on this issue:

        1Tim 2:12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

        He states two areas where women’s ministry are restricted. Teaching and exercising authority over men. He does not restrict other places of ministry. And he makes it crystal clear that this command is NOT due to cultural issues of the time. He makes it clear that this is a command for all time, because he goes on to give the following reason for this restriction:

        1Tim 2:13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve;
        1Tim 2:14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

        Paul also does not restrict the spiritual gifts in any way. There is no indication that the spiritual gifts are gender specific, including the gift of pastor or teacher. But he does clearly restrict the office of elder (overseer) to men and it is clear that the use of some of those spiritual gifts are restricted to a limited sphere by this passage. Clearly there were women who as Paul put it, “laboured side by side with me in the gospel” (Phil 4:2). But did they teach men and exercise authority over men? Not if you believe that scripture is in perfect harmony. And if you don’t believe that scripture harmonizes with itself, you’ve got a big problem with 2 Tim 3:16. They could have taught women and children, and they certainly could have shared the gospel and exercised other spiritual gifts without violating Paul’s prohibition, and in that case we would have expected him to refer to them as laboring side by side with him in the gospel. Women certainly can labor side by side with men in the gospel in countless ways that do not involve teaching men or exercising authority over men.

        There is one statement in your post that is extremely troubling. You said:

        “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?”

        The first concern is your assertion that there is a misunderstanding of Paul’s teaching. Paul’s restriction is crystal clear. And he gives a reason for the prohibition that is rooted in creation and the fall. To deny Paul’s clear teaching seems to me to be no different than doing what Saul did with what God told him to do in 1 Samuel 15. God gave Saul a clear command, and Saul decided he had a better idea. Samuel called that rebellion:

        1Sam 15:23 ” For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.”

        The second concern is your statement that obeying the clear teaching of scripture equates to legalism, or as you put it, “the legalistic letter of the law”. Felicity, when God tells us to do something and we obey it, that is not legalism. Legalism is going beyond scripture and making up rules that are not in scripture. I am a teetotaler, but if I teach that it is a sin for a Christian to have a glass of wine I have become a legalist, because I cannot support that from scripture. That is a whole different category from obeying the clear commands of scripture. When God told Saul what to do, he expected obedience. Complete obedience. No arguing. No excuses. He is our master, and we are his slaves. We obey. The apostle Paul saw himself as a slave of Christ and a slave of God’s word. Are we better than him?

        • felicitydale

          Tim

          While I understand and respect where you are coming from, I happen to disagree with your interpretation of this passage and the traditional understanding of the one in 1 Corinthians 14. They are passages I struggled with for a number of years because I have to have integrity in my position. Having studied a number of books written by theologians on the subject, I believe there is room for disagreement about the interpretation. (For example, how do you explain the plural and singular use of the word “woman” in this passage.)

          A few posts from now I have some guest posts on the Timothy passage that someone far more theologically trained than I am and who has spent a lifetime of Biblical study on this issue has written. I’ll be interested to know what you think of what he says.

      • Tim

        I must be missing something here. Paul makes a crystal clear statement on this issue:

        1Tim 2:12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

        He states two areas where women’s ministry are restricted. Teaching and exercising authority over men. He does not restrict other places of ministry. And he makes it crystal clear that this command is NOT due to cultural issues of the time. He makes it clear that this is a command for all time, because he goes on to give the following reason for this restriction:

        1Tim 2:13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve;
        1Tim 2:14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

        Paul also does not restrict the spiritual gifts in any way. There is no indication that the spiritual gifts are gender specific, including the gift of pastor or teacher. But he does clearly restrict the office of elder (overseer) to men and it is clear that the use of some of those spiritual gifts are restricted to a limited sphere by this passage. Clearly there were women who as Paul put it, “laboured side by side with me in the gospel” (Phil 4:2). But did they teach men and exercise authority over men? Not if you believe that scripture is in perfect harmony. And if you don’t believe that scripture harmonizes with itself, you’ve got a big problem with 2 Tim 3:16. They could have taught women and children, and they certainly could have shared the gospel and exercised other spiritual gifts without violating Paul’s prohibition, and in that case we would have expected him to refer to them as laboring side by side with him in the gospel. Women certainly can labor side by side with men in the gospel in countless ways that do not involve teaching men or exercising authority over men.

        There is one statement in your post that is extremely troubling. You said:

        “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?”

        The first concern is your assertion that there is a misunderstanding of Paul’s teaching. Paul’s restriction is crystal clear. And he gives a reason for the prohibition that is rooted in creation and the fall. To deny Paul’s clear teaching seems to me to be no different than doing what Saul did with what God told him to do in 1 Samuel 15. God gave Saul a clear command, and Saul decided he had a better idea. Samuel called that rebellion:

        1Sam 15:23 ” For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.”

        The second concern is your statement that obeying the clear teaching of scripture equates to legalism, or as you put it, “the legalistic letter of the law”. Felicity, when God tells us to do something and we obey it, that is not legalism. Legalism is going beyond scripture and making up rules that are not in scripture. I am a teetotaler, but if I teach that it is a sin for a Christian to have a glass of wine I have become a legalist, because I cannot support that from scripture. That is a whole different category from obeying the clear commands of scripture. When God told Saul what to do, he expected obedience. Complete obedience. No arguing. No excuses. He is our master, and we are his slaves. We obey. The apostle Paul saw himself as a slave of Christ and a slave of God’s word. Are we better than him?

  • Dori

    Christ has empowered his bride. Perhaps we could simple admit that it is not acknowledged in the fullest extent that we should.