Women Need Women
Sharon Beougher and Mary Dorsett
I. INTRODUCTION: WOMEN NEED WOMEN
God has a unique role for women in evangelism, a special calling for women to minister to other women. As women, we need to understand the enormous value God has placed on us. We should realize the influence He has given us in the lives of other women.
Women have some needs that only other women can fully appreciate. Only a single, middle-aged woman who has desperately desired to be a wife and mother can truly empathize with another woman struggling with the same problem. Who can help the bereaved mother more than someone who has been through similar circumstances? Only women can fully understand difficulties with the desire for marriage, pregnancies, the stresses of balancing a career and home life, the trials and tribulations of mothering several preschool children, the pain of an unfaithful husband, and the list could go on and on.
Tired, lonely, discouraged, depressed, or confused women are searching for a sense of worth. You, as a woman, have an unique opportunity to share with others the solution to these deep needs. You can show them God’s love, His plan of salvation, His forgiveness, and His hand on your life. You do not have to be “experienced” to do this—you do not need to be a graduate of a Bible college or seminary, or have any kind of formal training to share. No matter what your circumstances or background, you can share your story. You have your own joys and sorrows, disappointments and successes, victories and failures. You may be married or single, divorced or widowed, a mother or childless. You may be old or young. Whatever the case, you have something priceless to offer. You know Jesus Christ in a personal way, and you can share that wonderful relationship with others.
Titus 2:3-5 says: “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
You as an “older” woman, no matter what your age, can minister to a “younger” woman. Each contact provides a valuable opportunity to either bring her to a saving knowledge of Christ or to help her deepen her commitment and reliance on Him.
Everyone is in need of encouragement today. Encouragement is the affirmation that spurs someone on to want to be a better Christian, even when the going is tough. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overexposed, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Women especially need other women to encourage them. Each Christian is precious in the sight of the Lord, because we are adopted into His family as joint heirs with Christ. Share this with someone!
II. PERSONAL COMMITMENT
A. A Call to Radical Obedience
If women are going to do their utmost to glorify God and obey His command to make true disciples (rather than mere converts), they need to be purposeful about their walk with God. New believers require help in developing this trait. This is what Jesus meant when He told us to “make disciples.” If we are to be true disciples, we must continually “learn from Him.” Then we must teach others to know and obey Him, so they in turn can become teachers who assist other new believers along the way.
God desires that we grow and become like Christ, but this is a process. Each day we need to let Him take control of every area of our life. Further, we must learn to be obedient to His commands. This obedience should never spring from fear but from a desire to please God. Psalm 40:8 says: “To do your will, 0 my God, is my desire; your law is within my heart.”
The true disciple recognizes that God’s law provides a safety barrier between us and evil. Obedience to God never deprives us of fun, but rather protects us from all that would injure or harm us. The law is God’s gracious provision for our well being.
Hannah Whitall Smith, a Christian teacher, lecturer, and great devotional author from the last century, understood this principle of obedience and in response penned a beautiful prayer of commitment:
Here Lord, I abandon myself to thee. I have tried in every way I could think of to manage myself, and to make myself what I know I ought to be, but have always failed. Now I give it up to thee. Do thou take entire possession of me. Work in me all the good pleasure of thy will. Mold and fashion me into such a vessel as seemeth good to thee. I leave myself in thy hands, and I believe thou wilt, according to thy promise, make me into a vessel unto thy own honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.’
B. Seven Elements of Discipleship
Although there are scores of books on discipleship, one of the best is a slim, seventy-seven page volume by William MacDonald entitled True Discipleship. Following the advice found in this tiny book has inspired countless souls to become better disciples who then helped others follow the pathway themselves. MacDonald says “true discipleship begins when a person is born again,” but it must be followed by “an all-out commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.”2 According to the author, “The Savior is not looking for men and women who will give their spare evenings to Him—or their weekends—or their years of retirement. Rather He seeks those who will give Him first place in their lives.” 3 MacDonald suggests seven elements that are essential to true discipleship which he gleaned from the Bible:
1. A Supreme Love for Jesus Christ
In Luke 14:26, Jesus says we cannot be His disciples if we love anyone else—mother, father, spouse, children—more than we love Him. Anything less than this, He said, is unacceptable. The same can be said about loving things—especially money or fame—more than the Savior. The first and greatest commandment will always be to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” [Matt. 22:37].
Self-denial is the second element. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself.” This is not a matter of self-denial (such as giving up coffee, candy, or some bad or sinful habit). Rather, it involves submission of all one’s “rights” and “will” to Him. In short, it is saying to God, “I give up all claims to myself. You will be my master.” Luke 14:33 quotes Jesus as saying that only the person who gives up every¬thing can be His disciple.
If this sounds radical, MacDonald’s third point is even more so. The true disciple must not only love Jesus supremely and deny herself, she must take a further, deliberate step described in Matthew 16:24.
3. Taking Up The Cross
The cross is not the pain suffered when a loved one dies or the doctor prescribes major surgery. No indeed. These things happen to nonbelievers as well as believers. Taking up the cross is the shame, criticism, and pain received from family, friends, and even some Christians for living a life of radical obedience to Jesus Christ. Of course the cross can be avoided. Everyone is free to choose to be conformed to the ways of the world rather than the pathway set forth by Christ.
4. A Life of Following Jesus
A fourth element of discipleship requires Christians to spend their lives following Christ. Again as found in Matthew 16:24, Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, he [she] must deny himself [herself] and take up his [her] cross and follow me.” By “following Jesus,” MacDonald means emulating His example. We need to learn to live as He did in the power of the Holy Spirit, giving unselfish service to others, and demonstrating complete obedience to every-thing commanded by the Father. Then we will become like Jesus.
5. Love for the Body of Christ
Element five is “a fervent love for all who belong to Christ.” Jesus said that others will know we are His disciples by the way we love one another [John 13:35]. This is the kind of love that considers others better than ourselves [Philippians 2] and seeks the welfare of others before our own. In brief, it is being lovingly responsible for others, rather than selfishly seeking to secure our own privileges and rights—a revolutionary world view in these times.
6. Uncompromising Commitment to His Word
The sixth factor of true discipleship demands continuance in His Word. Jesus said, “if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples” [John 8:31]. Many people start their new life in Christ with great enthusiasm, only to turn away and give up once the novelty wears off or life becomes difficult. Fair-weather Christians (or those who join Christ’s army for glamour or ease of life) soon fall by the way. They are not true disciples.
7. Willingness to Forsake All
Note that it is Jesus who sets forth these elements—not some overzealous and misguided modern teacher. In Luke 14:33, Jesus said in a way that must have astonished His followers, “any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Jesus did not say you must be willing to forsake all. He said you must do it. He did not say that He required this of full-time Christian workers (such as missionaries, pastors, or evangelists). Rather, He said this is the standard He demands of all disciples.
This way of true discipleship is presented quite clearly and succinctly by Robert E. Coleman in The Mind of the Master:
We are sent into the world, not to satisfy our own whims of ambition, but to do the will of Him who commands us. For us the cross does not mean that we will die for the world. That has been done by Jesus. But in accepting the benefit of His vicarious death, we are made aware that we are no longer our own, and compelled by the mandate of His love, we must give ourselves to the purpose for which He died [that is to see people reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ]….4
The demands of discipleship require that we live in a state of spiritual mobilization, bringing our thoughts into the same captivity as the obedience of Christ. Reflecting this commitment means a strict discipline and simple lifestyle, unencumbered with the things this world seeks, that we might give our maximum energy to God’s mission. In the same spirit, we should hold our material resources with an open hand, recognizing that they belong to Christ, and are His to use for the furtherance of the Gospel.
Daring faith is required if we are to walk such a pathway. Most people will call this fanaticism rather than discipleship, but those following the steps of the Master know it means freedom and joy. As Robert Coleman noted, “Jesus is looking for such persons to follow Him—disciples who will throw caution to the wind and live like fools for His sake.”5
III. CIRCLES OF INFLUENCE IN EVANGELISM AND DISCIPLEMAKING
You are a woman of influence. The way you live influences others. Whether we realize it or not, this is part of God’s plan. God values not only our relationship with Him, but also our relationships with others. Every life either “gathers” (that is, attracts) or “scatters” (that is, distracts) others for the Kingdom of God.
A. Influence as a Single Woman
Singleness is a gift given to some people. In Matthew, the disciples ask Jesus about divorce. He instructs them that it is only permitted when one partner commits adultery. The amazed disciples respond: ” ‘If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.’ Jesus replied, Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it has been given’ ” [Matt. 19:10¬11]. In other words, for many the single life is a gift to be enjoyed because it is a special calling from God. Likewise, Paul writes to the Corinthians: “I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that” [1 Cor. 7:7]. If you are single, do you view your state as a blessing or a burden?
Singleness often brings time and opportunities that married people do not have. Singles have more freedom and mobility to “pick up and go” than a person with children has. There may be more flexibility to go to the mission field for either short- or long-term mission assignments. In addition, singles often have more time for education and training for ministry.
Without the distractions of a husband and children, the single woman can develop many varied friendships and ministries. John Fischer (author of the pamphlet, A Single Person’s Identity) reflected on this topic:
I have a strange feeling that the single person who is always wishing he were married will probably get married, discover all that is involved, and wish he were single again! He will ask himself, “Why didn’t I use that time for the Lord when I didn’t have so many other obligations? Why didn’t I give myself totally to him when I was single?”6
Singleness is not better or worse than marriage—just a different life path. Whichever way God has chosen for you, each Christian should live a life that brings glory to God. If you are single, praise God for the gift He has given and see how you can take full advantage of your calling to advance the Kingdom of God.
There are others, however, who are single because of circumstances. Divorce or the death of a spouse has placed them into a single state. While it is not something they chose, they need to believe God is not only at work in them, but through them. God can take the pain they have experienced and through the comfort He has given them, enable them to comfort others and share God’s faithfulness in difficult situations.
B. Influence as a Wife
Each Christian wife has an unique opportunity for evangelism in her own home. The wife of a nonbelieving spouse has the all-important task of seeking to introduce her husband to faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Equally exciting, the Christian wife of a Christian husband has the unique opportunity to work in tandem with her spouse in leading others to Jesus. She realizes this goal through actually witnessing to her faith and also by encouraging her Christian husband in his ministry of evangelism.
A wife can be a refreshing spring for her husband. Sarah Edwards, the wife of the great eighteenth-century preacher Jonathan Edwards, has been described as “the resting place of Jonathan’s soul.”‘ Besides her own witness to her family and community, Sarah gave needed support and encouragement to her husband.
Likewise, Maria Taylor, the wife of Hudson Taylor (the great missionary to China), dramatically influenced his life and ministry:
Maria tempered without quenching his zeal, was largely responsible for the common sense and balance characteristic of Taylor at the height of his power. She made him take holidays. He became more assured, grew up. Her passionate nature fulfilled his warm-blooded yearning to love and be loved. She gave him full response, fostering and feeding affection so that together they had such a reservoir of love that it splashed over to refresh all, Chinese or European, who came near them.’
C. Influence As A Mother
It is our children who will carry the Gospel to succeeding generations. Therefore we must carefully nurture it in their lives until the message of salvation burns brightly through them to the world. Hannah Jowett profoundly influenced her son, John Henry Jowett, whose preaching touched lives on all continents. Arthur Porritt, John Jowett’s biographer, writes that:
Jowett went through life chanting the praises of his mother. To the end of her life she was the object of his solicitous care. He never wearied of acknowledging the immensity of his indebtedness to her. “At my mother’s knee,” he said once, “I gained my sweetest inspirations.” To a friend who once asked him whence came his gift for felicitous illustration he replied, “From my mother! It was she who taught me to see—she taught me to see things, and the things within things.” 9
In a similar way, Hudson Taylor’s mother prayed earnestly for him:
Leaving her friends she went alone to plead with God for his salvation. Hour after hour passed while that mother was still upon her knees, until her heart was flooded with a joyful assurance that her prayers were heard and answered.10
Mothering can often seem very mundane, unexciting, and of little consequence when you are up to your ears in diapers, bottles, or turbulent teenagers. At these moments, it helps to imagine what your child can become when he or she is surrendered fully to the Lord. Remember that the cake in the mixing bowl bears little resemblance to the iced delicacy on the china plate. It takes time and patience to get to the finished product.
Mothers need to keep a sense of perspective about household duties and responsibilities that can easily dim the little joys of life. No matter how pressing the demands of the day, it is imperative that Christian moms spend quality time with God and their families. The reward is not always instantaneous, but it will come.
If children feel neglected by Mom, they will not see the message of God’s love shining through her life. It is difficult for a child to believe that he or she is important and loved by God when they do not experience similar reactions from their earthly parents. Although it is difficult to imagine when you are surrounded by preschoolers, children grow up quickly and each day of their young years is precious. Investing time in your child’s life will pay eternal dividends. Irene Foster’s poem, Time is of the Essence, whimsically sorts out priorities.
Time is of the Essence
Now is the time to get things done…
wade in the water,
sit in the sun,
squish my toes
in the mud by the door,
explore the world in a boy just four.
Now is the time to study books,
how a cloud looks
to ponder “up”,
where God sleeps nights,
why mosquitoes take such big bites.
Later there’ll be time
to sew and clean,
paint the hall
that soft new green,
to make new drapes,
refinish the floors
later on… when he’s not just four.11
If you find yourself stressed out and in need of spiritual restoration, set aside time to be alone with God. Get your husband or a friend to watch the children for several hours. Pray for guidance and direction. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal things in you that need to change. Pray for each of your children—for their strengths and weaknesses. Finally, beseech God to give you the ability to become a better model of His love to your family.
Keep praying for your children, no matter what their age. If they do not have a relationship with Christ, pray that they would recognize Him as Lord and Savior. For your Christian children, pray that Christ will shine through their lives and that He will use them to bring others to faith.
Besides your children, recognize that your circle of influence extends to other mothers. A struggling mother will more readily turn to a fellow mother for help and guidance. Keep your eyes open. Opportunities to minister surround each person.
D. As a Senior Citizen
The potential for senior citizens to influence others is enormous. Older, mature Christian women have more experience to draw upon, more wisdom, and often more time to minister than do other women of younger ages.
All soul winners recognize that prayer is the greatest work in evangelism, and many have been won to Christ as the result of an older person who prays consistently for the work of salvation.
Hilda, an eighty-nine-year-old member of a church, was so crippled with arthritis that she could not write, play the piano, or walk easily. But she spent countless hours praying for souls to be won to the Lord. People would ask her to pray for someone, and she would be faithful until they accepted Christ. Only eternity will reveal the number of Hilda’s spiritual children.
Sybil Warren, a pastor’s wife from North Carolina, began praying daily for Ann, a young visitor to the church. Ann went on to college and seminary before becoming the wife of a professor of evangelism. Unknown to Ann, Sybil prayed for her for twenty years. Imagine how encouraging it was to Ann when she received a note from Sybil and learned of the older woman’s faithfulness as an effective prayer warrior.
Senior adults often find wonderful evangelistic opportunities when they become foster grandparents to children whose own grandparents live far away. Or consider what a difference might be made in the life of a young child who has no one else who really loves and cares for her.
Mature Christian women are urgently needed as role models for women who want to learn about personal discipleship, churchmanship, and giving. If you find yourself in this era of life, rejoice that you have flexibility with your schedule. Get involved with the teaching ministry of your church, or perhaps take a lead in evangelistic endeavors such as Vacation Bible School, Backyard Bible Clubs, or Evangelism Explosion. Ministry to young families provides an outlet not only for you to share what God has taught you about mothering, but it offers a chance for service as well. Offer to baby-sit for a housebound young mother who desperately needs a break.
Some seniors feel called to work with those in their peer group. Taking meals, tapes, or simply offering companionship to shut-ins brings the love of Christ in a tangible way. Providing chauffeuring services to the grocery store, doctor, or other appointments can open the door for spiritual conversations.
All ministries can be used as bridges to share the gospel to those in need. No matter what our age, we are never to forget our charge of reaching others for Christ and being faithful to the Great Commission.
A. When Feeling Guilty and Overwhelmed by Needs
There are “seasons” in every person’s life. It is understandable if you are discouraged in a season of dirty diapers, preschoolers, sick parents, bereavement, or other difficult circumstances. But try to remember that God does not expect us to be superhuman. He knows our limitations. Frequently Satan tries to bog us down in guilt for all that we are not doing. Needs surround us, and the evil one’s voice accuses us unceasingly because it seems we are failing at every turn. It is then that we must go back to the cross and seek God’s direction. Every need is not a call, and no one can conquer every need that presents itself.
Our model is Jesus. His example and Spirit will encourage us. He was swamped with needs and feelings of concern and compassion for the lost. Even so, He did not despair or fall apart. The first chapter of Mark illustrates this point vividly. Jesus was in Capernaum, surrounded by people who came to Him for physical or spiritual healing. The text says: “The whole town gathered at the door” [Mark 1:33]. Jesus has had an exhausting day, but Mark goes on to relate that “very early in the morning while it was still dark,” Jesus went off to “a solitary place” to pray. Jesus recognized His own need for spiritual refreshment and direction in His ministry.
Later that morning Peter reports to Jesus, “Everyone is looking for you” [Mark 1:36]. But instead of going back to Capernaum (where the crowds were waiting to welcome Him), Jesus followed the direction received during His morning prayer time and moved on to nearby villages who also needed to hear His message. There will always be more places and people with spiritual needs than can be met by any one person. Our primary job is not to run frantically from one to another, but to seek God’s guidance prayerfully and then work in His strength to fulfill His specified plans for certain tasks. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the number of needs or you are consumed with guilt, set aside time alone with the Lord and seek His specific direction for your ministry.
If at all possible, perhaps even try to set aside a couple of hours, a half day, or even a whole day for a season of prayer where you can focus your mind on Him and allow Him to lead and refresh you. It is important to remember that Jesus did not try to meet every need. On the contrary, He concentrated on a few people and sent them out to do the same. This geometric progression has spread the Gospel all over the world.
B. When Suffering from Spiritual Burnout and Depression
Electrical burnout occurs when too much heat in the current overloads the circuit. Christians can suffer from “overload” as well. Spiritual burnout can occur even if we are doing good things in the right way with pure motives. Only God can be everywhere and everything to all people.
Susie, a young single woman, was involved in every ministry of her small church. She taught Sunday School, played the piano, was a member of the evangelism team, did consistent church visitation, volunteered in the nursery, chaperoned youth functions, and worked in the kitchen. She got to the point where she did not want to go out and tell anyone about anything, much less share her faith. She was tired and weary from doing good things. She wanted to quit everything and move far away. Susie was suffering from spiritual burnout.
The pace of modern life can be destructive. On top of all the hustle and bustle, there is an intense spiritual battle as well. “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” [Eph. 6:12]. “If the enemy cannot get to us via lust, money or power, he’ll attack by twisting our virtues into vices. He will lead us into spiritual burnout.””
There are countless instances in the Bible where strong spiritual leaders fell victim to burnout and depression. Moses suffered from the pressures of ministering to a multitude of ungrateful complainers (Ex. 12:37-38; 15:24; 16:3) who worshipped idols (Ex. 32-33). As a result, Moses became angry and depressed (Num. 11:4-6), lost sight of God’s power (Num. 11:13), and forgot God’s promises (11:14). But God understood his problem (Ex. 33:2-3) and guided Moses to divide responsibility among seventy men to whom He gave the Holy Spirit (Num. 11:17). God wants you to recognize His strength and His ability to meet your needs. Christians who labor in their own strength will always fail.
Jeremiah also went through severe burnout and depression. After he faithfully proclaimed God’s prophetic message, the people of Judah turned against him. Lonely and rejected because of his obedience, he felt alienated from his family (Jer. 12:6). Because of his calling he could not marry and have children (16:2, 8) and the people refused to believe his message (20:7-8). How did Jeremiah handle his depression? He continually turned to the Lord and talked to Him about his problems (15:10, 15). Jeremiah obeyed God, thus keeping his line of communication open (12:1-7), and he concentrated on God’s character (Lam. 3:22-23). God promised and gave him protection (Jer. 15:20-21), and then Jeremiah rested in personal victory, finding joy and comfort in his relationship to God (15:16).
Or consider Elijah, God’s mouthpiece to Israel. His ministry led to a great spiritual awakening in the land, but he was personally hated by Jezebel, the evil Queen of Israel. She persecuted Elijah because of his influence. At one point, Jezebel was so enraged by Elijah’s actions that she sent him the message: “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” In other words, “If I don’t kill you within twenty-four hours, I’ll be ready to kill myself.”
Elijah, who had fearlessly obeyed God’s commands for three years, suddenly buckled under the threats of this powerful woman and ran to the desert where he abjectly cried to God:
Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’ Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep [1 Kings 19:3-5].
But the merciful and omnipotent Lord became Elijah’s comforter. He confronts, comforts, and encourages Elijah, who picks himself up and continues in obedience to God. There are several lessons to be learned from Elijah.
1. Focus on facts, not feelings (v. 3). Elijah felt like a failure and assumed that he was (since he ran away). Some days you may not “feel” like a Christian, but being a Christian is based on fact, not feeling.
2. Do not compare yourself with others (v. 4). It is common to compare your weaknesses with others’ strengths. You may get down on yourself for not being the Christian you ought to be, not spending enough time reading the Bible, or for not witnessing to as many people as you think you should. Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses, determine to set some goals to work on (one weakness at a time), and don’t wallow in self-pity.
3. Do not take false blame (v. 10). Elijah could not change the nation so he blamed himself. You can influence others, but you are not responsible for the decisions other people make. You can share the gospel, but you are not responsible for another person’s decision to accept or reject Christ.
4. Do not exaggerate the negative (v. 10). Elijah said, “I’m the only one left and now they are trying to kill me too.” The “they” that Elijah mentions really refers to just one person, Jezebel. If she really wanted to kill him, she would not have sent him a messenger but a murderer.
God’s remedy in Elijah’s case has profound implications for each person in a similar situation:
1. Take care of your physical needs. Elijah “lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread, baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again” [1 Kings 19:5-6]. God did not condemn him, but provided for his physical requirements.
Maybe your pace of life has left you physically exhausted and you have not been taking care of your nutritional or exercise needs. Billie Hanks, an evangelist with International Evangelism Association, has said, “The most spiritual thing you can do when you are tired is sleep.”
2. Talk to God and express your feelings to Him. In verse 10, Elijah poured out his feelings to the Lord: “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
All of us have moments when we need to pour out our fears honestly to God. No matter how trivial or seemingly unimportant, God hears and cares.
3. While you are alone, try to gain God’s perspective on your life and allow God to give you a fresh awareness of His presence in your life.
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came afire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ ” [1 Kings 19:11-131
4. Clarify your goals and ask God to give you new direction for your life. It has been said, “If you shoot at nothing, you will hit it every time.” Paul says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” [Phil. 3:14].
God gave Elijah a new assignment in verse 15. Maybe God wants to change your assignment. Perhaps He does not want you to be involved in so many areas of service. Could it be that you have a problem with saying “no” to people? Some Christians think God will be pleased if they over-extend them-selves—even if this causes them to neglect their family or their physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
If this has been your problem, confess it to God and ask Him to help you break old patterns that lead you astray. Then seek God’s true direction and purpose for your life.
5. Do not isolate yourself. Find someone to nurture or mentor you. You may be so busy trying to witness and disciple that you fail to realize that you need a trusted mentor as well. You need another Christian woman to pray for you, challenge you, support you, and hold you accountable. All Christians need fellowship and encouragement from others. Look for ways to slip out of your regular routine every week or two for a quiet breakfast or lunch with a Christian friend or mentor. If this is not possible, at least talk on the phone. Plan times of refreshment and encouragement into your schedule.
There are many sources of depression: problem situations, fatigue, life changes. Such causes usually produce temporary periods of depression and will pass. For prolonged depression, it is always wise to seek medical counsel.
C. When Storms Come And Life Seems Out of Balance God has always calmed storms and brought peace. When the circumstances of life are swirling around us like a hurricane, we need to learn to abide in the calm of the storm. We do this by continually centering ourselves in His Word and staying on our knees close to the cross of Christ. Whether we realize it or not, people are watching us. How we handle difficult circumstances is often a living testimony of the grace of our Lord Jesus. The recently bereaved, ones who have experienced great personal disappointment, the newly unemployed, or the mother of a handicapped newborn will testify with their actions to the reality of Jesus in their lives. If He is real, others will see Him shining through their pain and sustaining them in their difficulties. Such a witness often influences more people than a mighty sermon or book.
But sometimes it is the little waves, not the major storms, that keep us out of balance: the piles of laundry, the never-ending task of cleaning, the way “Murphy’s Law” works—your daughter spills her apple juice AFTER the floor was mopped, the unexpected business trip, the prolonged visit of a very talkative neighbor. Again, our lives become a spiritual mirror for those around us. Will people see Christ or an angry woman more clearly?
Keep in mind through all circumstances that God is sovereign. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and He loves you. Also look at how Jesus used ordinary events as opportunities for evangelism and discipleship.
Jesus used the unexpected intrusion of 5,000 people on his rest time to teach the disciples compassion. He used the interruption by Zacchaeus (the little man in the tree) as an occasion to change a man’s life in order to demonstrate to a community the meaning of repentance. The Apostle Paul used prison time for worship, for evangelism, for teaching, and for writing to young congregations that he had previously established. Biblical men and women of God never saw any circumstance as pointless.”
Now is the time to begin reaching the world for Christ. We must not wait until we are fully trained or until we feel a miraculous “personal call.” God has commanded all Christians to join in this task! God has called you!
An incident from the life of swimmer Florence Chadwick underscores a profound truth:
The California coast was shrouded in fog that fourth of July morning in 1952. Twenty-one miles to the west on Catalina Island a 34-year-old woman waded into the water and began swimming toward the mainland, determined to be the first woman to do so. Her name was Florence Chadwick, and she had already been the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. The water was numbing cold that July morning and the fog so thick that Florence could barely see the boats in her own party. But still she swam, mile after mile.
After more than 15 hours, her body numbed with cold, she asked to be taken out. “I can’t go on.” Florence Chadwick had never before quit. Her mother and her trainer urged her not to give up, assuring her that the coast was just a short distance away. But in the California fog, Florence could not see land. She swam for 15 more minutes before finally giving up.
Later when her body began to thaw, she blurted to an inquiring reporter, “Look, I’m not making excuses, but if I could have seen land, I would have made it.” When she quit, she was only a half-mile from the coast. The fog defeated her because it obscured her goal.
It was the only time Florence Chadwick ever quit. Two months later, she swam the same channel, again in fog. But this time, things were different. This time Florence didn’t allow the fog to blind her reason, her eyes, and her heart. This time her faith kept her swimming toward a goal she knew was there but couldn’t see. She made it, not only as the first woman to swim the Catalina Channel, but also the fastest swimmer, beating the men’s record by two hours.
Do not let a fog dim your vision of reaching people for Christ. Ask God to give you His vision for your life. Then make it your goal to honor and glorify Him by submitting all of your life to His plan.
“Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joys set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” [Heb. 12:1-3].
Susanna Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, took time each day to be alone with God in order to study her Bible and pray. One of her daily prayers was: “Dear God, guide me. Help me do Thy will. Make my life count.”14 As a young woman, she wholeheartedly dedicated her life to evangelism: “I hope the fire I start will not only burn all of London, but all of the United Kingdom as well. I hope it will burn all over the world.””
May we have that same kind of vision to reach our world for Christ!
Now that you have completed the manual, you can gain an appreciation for the developing role of women in evangelism by listening to the last cassette tape in the series, featuring a historical essay presented by Edith Blumhofer.
1 Hannah W. Smith, The Christian’s Secret to Happy Life (Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, n.d.), p. 39.
2 William MacDonald, True Discipleship (Kansas City, MO: Walterick Publishers, 1975), pp. 64-65.
3 /bid., p. 5.
4 Robert E. Coleman, The Mind of the Master (New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1977), pp. 100-101.
5 Ibid., p.101.
6 John Fischer, A Single Person’s Identity (Palo Alto, CA: Discovery Publishing, 1973), p. 4. Elisabeth Dodds, Marriage to a Difficult Man: The Uncommon Union of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards
7 (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1971), p. 203.
8 John Pollack, Hudson Taylor and Maria (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co, 1962), p. 102.
9 Arthur Porritt, John Henry Jowett (Hodder & Stoughton, 1900), p. 4.
10 Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret (China Inland Mission, 1958), p 13.
11 Jean Fleming, A Mother’s Heart (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1982), p. 56.
12 Charles Bradley, “Spiritual Burnout—When There’s Nothing Left to Give” (Decision Magazine, February 1991), pp. 14-16.
13 Gail MacDonald, High Call High Privilege (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1981), p. 58.
14 Charles Ludwig, Susanna Wesley (Milford, MI: Mott Media), p. 30.
15 /bid., p. 88.
The above article, “Women Need Women” was written by Sharon Beougher and Mary Dorsett. The article was excerpted from their book, Women & Evangelism.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”