Amy Carmichael was a missionary to India who had a profound impact on my life through her writing. Even reading some of her work now, I can understand why they were so impactful (ouch!) Here are some quotes, several of which are taken from one of her little books called If:
“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”
“If I am afraid to speak the truth lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, “You do not understand”, or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the other’s highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“There have been times of late when I have had to hold on to one text with all my might: “It is required in stewards that a man may be found faithful.” Praise God, it does not say “successful.”
“Satan is so much more in earnest than we are–he buys up the opportunity while we are wondering how much it will cost.”
“If I do not give a friend “The benefit of the doubt,” but put the worst construction instead of the best on what is said or done, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
Quotes from here and here.
When I worked as a doctor, there was a diagnosis I never liked to make. “Hemiplegic” is the medical term used to describe paralysis down one side of the body that occurs, for example, after a stroke. If the condition was severe, it was potentially a devastating diagnosis for the person involved, who had to come to terms with the fact that they would be weak and unable to fully function and might have to depend on the help of others for the rest of their lives.
The body of Christ in the West is hemiplegic. Half of it–the female half–is significantly weakened, if not totally paralyzed. The whole body of Christ is suffering as a result.
Where are the women apostles? Where are the women who are prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers? Where are the female role models who dare to do great exploits for the Kingdom of God? I’m grateful to count several like these as my friends, but in general, women in any form of strategic church leadership in the West are conspicuous by their absence.
It’s not that way in other parts of the world.
- In China, around 80% of house churches are planted by ordinary women
- In India there is a significant harvest being reaped by women of all castes. Two years ago, I met two women–ordinary, middle aged housewives–one of whom was responsible for starting 2,000 churches and the other, 6,000 churches.
- In Dr. Cho’s church of more than 800,000 in Korea, two-thirds of the associate pastors are women, and 47,000 of the 50,000 cell group leaders are women too.
- In many nations where there is restricted access for the gospel, women are planting churches–they have easy access to homes and naturally share their testimony with others, pray for the sick and demonized and find persons of peace.
If women can do it in other nations, why not here in the West?
Are there women in this country who are willing to break out of the stereotypical role assigned to them by tradition? Who will follow the Great Shepherd into the harvest? Who will dare to break out of their boxes of convention, who will color outside the lines of expectation.
If God is using women in extraordinary ways elsewhere, (and he is) then why not here too? We do not have to remain hemiplegic!
Do you have examples of what God is doing through women either here or in other nations?
Photo credit: Vici-Jane
For some years we have been friends with Molong Nacua, who lives just 40 minutes from where the worst of Typhoon Haiyan hit in the Philippines. He’s not exactly a house church guy, but he makes disciples all the time. His new disciples go on to make other disciples and so far they have touched about 600 families, reaching to 14 generations of disciples. They don’t hold meetings; for them, life is one long encounter with Jesus in the company of others. Discipleship is practical, and very reproducible.
We stayed with Molong and his lovely family a few years back. They live simply, as an extended family, always taking in others in need. There were two other families and several single guys living with them when we were there. They looked after us like royalty, giving up their bedroom for us to sleep in, producing delicious meals that we ate out in the open, talking and laughing until late in the evening. They took us to the coast–I’ve never seen such an incredible variety of starfish before or since.
So when we heard about Typhoon Haiyan, we were sure that Molong and his community would be in the thick of things. Sure enough, they were.The community, including the children, spent hours and hours preparing hundreds of grocery sacs of food and water to take to those in need. These they delivered out in the community, visiting different areas, distributing to thousands of people.
As people elsewhere heard the story, they sent them funds that are being used to help provide for those whose lives have been devastated.
The work continues, blessing many whose lives were impacted by the typhoon. Nowthey are rebuilding homes. And alongside all of this, they continue to make and baptize disciples. Eight were baptized just yesterday!
Molong’s blog on Facebook is worth following to give you an idea of what is going on. His pictures are worth a thousand words.
The needs will be ongoing. You can donate to the work Molong and his family are doing via House2House.
During World War II, my father was a prisoner of war under the Japanese. He, and those with him, endured unspeakable atrocities for more than three years. Although I was protected from all the details as I was growing up, it dominated our family in many ways. Looking back on it now, I’m fairly sure he would have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. It affected him for most of the rest of his life.
Today we have troops coming home from tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are many veterans from the Vietnam War. Yesterday I came across these horrifying statistics. More than 22 veterans commit suicide every day. Every day. That’s one every 65 minutes. It’s more than are dying in combat.
Where in the world is the church? Surely Jesus has an answer.
Photo Credit: Za Rodinu via Compfight cc
A few years back, Paul Young, author of The Shack spoke at one of our House2House conferences. When we first invited him, The Shack was barely known. A few months later, by the time he spoke at our conference, it had sold 7 million copies! We asked Paul for the story behind the book. It went something like this. Paul was working three jobs when he finished writing a book for his children. Somehow he managed to scrape up the money to get 11 copies for his family and a few friends made at Kinkos. Friends sent it on to friends… From there, the rest is history. It was a God thing! No marketing, no publicity campaigns, just the Holy Spirit taking it and changing lives through it.
It was every Christian author’s dream.
But it was a once in a generation thing.
I’ve just finished compiling The Black Swan Effect: A response to gender hierarchy in the church, and it’s now with the editors, due out in April 2014. I’d love to send it off to the printers and just have the Holy Spirit do what he wills with it. But the work for most authors when they finish a manuscript is only half done. Which is where the dilemma comes in. I want to promote the message of the book, but I want to make sure that my motivation is not seeking recognition for myself or any kind of self-promotion.
And so I will do the things that authors need to do in our current climate to bring their books to the attention of others, while asking Jesus to deal with my heart, praying that he gives me wisdom.
It’s only the Holy Spirit who can transform lives and change the church. I pray that The Black Swan Effect will be a tool in his hands.
Sometimes Tony and I will look at each other and just say, “We are so blessed.” God has showered us with his grace and favor in many, many ways.
I am so thankful for you, the readers of this blog, who put up with my rants about this and that, my theological musings, my passion for simple/organic church and for women in ministry. Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting. Thank you for your encouragement. Thank you for being my brothers and sisters in Christ.
May you all have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!
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I’ve read a couple of books by Carolyn Custis James. Her book,The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules is an unusual and inspiring look at the book of Ruth and how it communicates the truths of the gospel. It was of particular interest because it was through our church’s study of the book of Ruth that a Hindu couple committed to the Lord.
Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women is another book by Carolyn. It covers two major areas:
The loss that occurs when women believe there are limits on how God will use them. This loss isn’t just to half the church whose vision of God’s purposes for their lives is stifled, but also to the men who are carrying a weight of burden they were meant to share with us. God meant us to build his Kingdom together.
A global tragedy is underway as women and girls are suffering the worst kinds of injustices. The book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Krystof and Sheryl WuDunn graphically details some of these atrocities–sex trafficking, female genocide, genital mutilation and so on. In Half the Church, Custis James examines this further. What is the church doing about oppression and injustice to women? Apart from a few Christian organizations, most of the church is too busy and just ignores their plight.
Half the Church challenges us to search for God’s vision for his daughters. His plans for us are more far-reaching and life-expanding than we have yet experienced. God is calling us to engage in the world, to right injustices, to stand up for truth. If the other half of the church would fully engage, we can impact the world for the King.
Those who have been reading my blog for some time will recognize how this well-written and thought-provoking book resonates with truths that I believe the Holy Spirit is bringing to the attention of the body of Christ. I highly recommend it.