It takes a lot to render me speechless. Even more to make me angry. This story happened yesterday.
We have had a delightful lady church planter from India staying with us this week. She trains other women church planters and between them they have seen 50,000 to 60,000 baptisms of women over the last few years. In the network that she and her husband run, there have been around 250,000 baptisms. They have planted thousands of house churches.
This lady is in the United States to get her doctorate in ministry–she comes over once a year to attend the course in person. The course is about missions and how to reach the world for Christ.
I was driving her back to the airport and the subject of the book I’m compiling on women came up. I told her that in some circles, in this country, women are not allowed to speak in church.
“I understand what you mean when you say that ,” she said. “I am the only woman in the group taking this course, and I don’t say anything.”
“Why not?” I asked.
“I’m not allowed to speak because I am a woman.”
“Do the people in the course have any idea what you are involved in?” I asked. “Do they know how many churches you have and how many people have become Christians through what you are doing?”
“Oh no,” she replied, “I haven’t been able to tell them. I’m not allowed to take part in any of the discussions that the men have.”
I asked her several questions to make sure I was really understanding her correctly. The men are allowed to speak during the course but she has to keep silent. They teach from theory but do not benefit from her experience. They have no idea what a treasure they have in their midst.
Here’s a woman who has seen what these men long to see–a move of God–and she’s muzzled.
It’s the men’s loss, but oh, what a tragedy!
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29 replies on “A true story that makes me angry (and sad)!”
The “Third Rail” of Christian paradigms is the subject of women and the ministry. I could exegete Genesis and draw out Scripture, however I cannot in good faith picture our Lord and savior advising half of humanity to remain quiet. Luke/Acts clearly paints a clear picture of how Jesus interacted with women. Beloved lets move forward!
Well, I could and should take time to speak intelligently into this tragic situation, but I have to say my first response is…”Idiots.”
My feelings too! But I can just imagine all these important guys and one insignificant-looking middle-aged Indian housewife, and they just would assume she has nothing to offer.
Once, while in India, I took a step of faith and visited an Indian family in a small village in Andhra Pradesh. The story itself is amazing, as I’d never met this woman before. We had only corresponded by email. She had found my name in an American housechurch website, even though I live in Australia. Here was I travelling across India by myself, not knowing what lay ahead. Amazingly, when I stepped off the train she and her son Babu were there to meet me – along with a couple of hundred other people! It took a four hour journey in very primitive transport to arrive at the village, by which time it was around 10pm. There to meet me where around 15 women who had arrived by bicycle from nearby villages. Each of these women had started up a house church. Lilly herself was a widow, and had the oversight of all these house churches – 25 in number, each with 20-30 members. Not only that, but she was a diabetic with a number of serious health issues. Nobody would ever dare to tell Lilly that this was a man’s job!
I love this kind of story, Anne. And there are so many women in other nations who, like Lilly, take their faith very seriously and are doing work that we, here in the West, both men and women, are too preoccupied to do.
Why in the world would this precious woman of God want to attend a dead religious institution?? She is ministering The Truth already, better to not be defiled by our North American idea of “church” witch is complete and utter rubbish and is not of the Lord in any way!
Agreed. I think people overseas often look to a Western education, which is sad. But I have to assume she heard from the Lord on this one and that for whatever reason, he wants her here.
Disgraceful sorry but it is. I think your friend should write a resume of her work, plus her photo, and leave copies on every seat just prior to the other students coming Into the room. Presumably the men do actually speak with her during coffee breaks? How has her amazing story never been told? Better still, rather than leave an a4 resume, get your friend to get her story published and leave her BOOK on every chair. 🙂
I’ve considered writing to the institution in question too, but I think wiser counsel (in the shape of my husband) has prevailed. I’d hate to make life more difficult for her, and she’s nearly finished.
yea its stuff like this that makes me say if your going to use the bible to propagate garbage then put it down and let god run the show-then females who have gods spirit being in them would be speaking up a storm–let the wind of god blow!
Thank you for sharing this story…it makes one realise how important correct teaching and understanding is…I am looking forward to your book being published to perhaps right the wrongs laid down in centuries of mistaken belief systems….it must totally break God’s heart….
Thanks, Helen. I’m hoping and praying that our book will contribute to this whole area. It’s certainly an area that the Holy Spirit seems to be highlighting at the moment.
I would wonder about the value of what she is learning if that is the rule in her seminary, and the wisdom of her choosing to learn at that institution. There are far better choices in school, as this sounds pretty backward to me.
I agree with you. It covered topics she wanted to learn about and I don’t think she’d realized their position on women until she was well into it.
She’s living what those men only read about in books. How sad for them. She, on the other hand, gets to leave those moribund classmates behind and return to the joy of being in the field God has given her.
Thanks for sharing her story, Felicity. As sad as it is in many ways, it heartens me as well to know that she serves our Lord faithfully.
P.S. My take on the nonsense of forcing people into manhood/womanhood straitjackets: http://timfall.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/biblical-womanhood-is-nothing-and-neither-is-biblical-manhood/
Loved the blog post, Tim and especially the first cartoon. (Any chance I could use it?) I’ve sent it out via twitter, fb etc.
Thanks Felicity, I’m so glad you liked the post. That Jael cartoon isn’t mine to give out, unfortunately. It was drawn by my friend Rachel Stone’s father, a very talented cartoonist.
this is so heartbreaking and also terribly infuriating. sigh.
I believe God is in the process of changing things across the body of Christ as a whole, thankfully!
My heart aches.
I certainly agree with your final statement but we should also respect certain Christian tribes who may interpret Paul’s letters differently than some of us do. My son is a Mennonite and I can attest to their being far more conservative in tradition than my tribe, i.e., no music, women sit on one side and men on the other, and probaly women don’t speak, etc.
Pete, agree. I quite often get negative comments from people who believe women should be silent or should not teach when I post about women on this blog. After engaging in discussion if appropriate, my usual response is to say, “I understand what you say and respect your position, but on this topic, we’ll have to agree to disagree.” I used to be where these people are, and it’s taken a journey for me to believe what I now believe. We are just at different places on our journey with the Lord.
I’ve read several comments and the only thing I don’t see is the applause from people for this woman regarding how she is handling the situation where she is. While she and many others may not agree, she has taken a noble approach by not fighting and insisting on her way. I’m not saying its the optimum situation, but life in this broken world rarely is. In my fellowship we are still struggling with this issue. I hope people don’t bad mouth us and talk about how stupid, idiotic, and backwards we are just because we don’t have the same understanding others do.
I’m thankful for anyone who will have patience with me.
Very true. She is taking the godly approach. In fact, she would never have mentioned the situation to me if the topic had not come up in conversation. I believe it is right not to defend ourselves, but it is also right that we defend those who are being unjustly treated. But I agree, this should not be done by “rendering evil for evil.”
When are we ever going to understand that God picks who He is going to gift, we don’t. This story makes me sad, considering my struggles in my own church.
Tafy, so true. It’s sad when the church fails to benefit from what God has given someone simply because of their gender.