Saturday, December 12, 2015

From Miriam to Mary to Modern Day: God's Role for Women in Ministry

This year I have faced many people with opinions that God does not want women in ministry. The idea that God did not want me on the path I was headed greatly troubled me. I started to look for people who supported it and found that many of my favorite people did, so I would be momentarily content to continuing believing what I had. I could not imagine that my best friend did not want me to go out into the world to preach His great name. I became puzzled and wanted to dig more into the idea of women in ministry. However, there are these things called work and school that consume much of my time year round. Then came along my good friend, Critical Thinking and Writing (whoever thought such a statement would ever be uttered). This class gave me the opportunity to dig into a controversial topic in my field for 2 months. Guess where I headed right away: the library's section on women in ministry. And so without further ado, this is my paper I wrote for Critical Thinking and Writing class. It was a great privilege to be able to spend time researching the arguments for and against women in ministry since this issue is one near and dear to my heart. I hope women who have desires to go into ministry are encouraged by this, like I was. I hope men who read this and already support women in ministry are inspired to support women with dreams of being in ministry even more. And I hope that those who do not hold my view allow their hearts to be changed by what God's word says both directly and indirectly about women in ministry. I know this paper is long, but that is only because the argument for women in ministry is so strong.

From Miriam to Mary to Modern Day: God’s Role for Women in Ministry
            According to Dr. Jaco Hamman (2010), the number of women going to seminary and stepping into pastoral positions is increasing, but there is still a lot of bias against women. Hamman recalled story after story of gifted and highly educated women who struggled to be accepted into the pastoral community after graduation (pp. 769-770). Even those who are officially accepted into the pastoral community face a lot of judgement afterwards. Dr. Kimberly Alexander (2012) suggested in Theology Today, “male ministers who have charisma, are decisive and outgoing are called ‘anointed leaders’; women with the same traits and gifts are rebuked for having a ‘Jezebel spirit’” (p. 405). Theologian Riet Bons-Storm also argued this point by saying when women do take control they are described to be feminists or rebels (as cited by Hamman, 2010, p. 776). Therefore, even when women are accepted, they are seen in very different ways by the church.
The Barna Group (2012) also noted this partial acceptance of women and other pieces of information surrounding women and the church. According to their research, 20% of women in the church feel under-utilized, and roughly the same percentage of women think their opportunities are limited by their gender. One-fifth of women surveyed said they strongly believed male leaders in their churches were not willing to make changes to allow for more women to have leadership roles, and one quarter did not think their churches approved of women as pastors (para. 3, 8). Women are feeling judged, and in many churches they are being held back. This judgment, however, is not new to women. As pastor Matt Anderson (2014) astutely noted, “no group of people has been more consistently devalued and marginalized than women” (para. 3).
This heartbreaking observation does not always have to ring true, and the solution can begin with churches allowing women to live out their God-given ministry aspirations however they are called. Women should be accepted as pastoral leaders in the church because keeping women from prominent ministry positions denies their equal value, women have many gifts which are beneficial for pastoral leaders to possess, God’s use of women in the Bible shows it is biblical, and the Scripture commonly used against women in pastoral leadership is often wrongly interpreted.
When one agrees with the idea women and men are equal, it is difficult to argue against the idea women and men should have the same opportunities to serve within a church. Early on in Genesis, the Bible supported the idea men and women are equal. L.E. Maxwell (1987) recalled where in the Bible it said “God created man in His own image…male and female He created them”, it was clear “man” was used in the generic or universal sense (p. 31). This means both men and women were created in the image of God. Not only were both created in the image of God, but both were given dominion over the creatures of the earth. In Genesis 1:26, 28 it said let them have dominion. It did not merely say let men have dominion, but them making the meaning much different. When speaking about those verses, Gilbert Bilezikian (1989) noted God was very careful to list every creature men and women have dominion over, and even said they had dominion over the creatures that crawl on the ground, but He never established any kind of hierarchy between men and women (pp. 19-21) meaning no hierarchy of importance was ever meant to be established.
In Genesis 2:18 it said man should not be alone, and so God promised to send a helper, the woman. When looking at the creation story, it is interesting to note as Bilezikian did, that in Genesis 2:18 the true definition of “helper” is different than what one could expect. Many think of the term “helper” as meaning servant or otherwise a lower position and so “helper” may be seen as a degrading term today. However, it was never meant that way because the very same word was also used to describe God rescuing His people in other texts (p. 22). Another interesting thing about the creation story is how Eve was created. Henry suggested since the woman did not come from the man’s head she is not to trample on him, but also since she did not come from his feet she should not be trampled upon. The woman came from his side symbolizing the equality of men and women (as cited by Maxwell, 1987, p. 33).
It is also remarkable to notice, as Maxwell (1987) did, that throughout the Old Testament Israelite women have been more highly regarded than the women of every other culture. He noted men and women were called to make decisions together, and the fifth commandment does not just instruct people to honor their fathers but also their mothers (p. 18). Pitman drew attention to the fact that Christ came as a man born of a woman. He argued the sexes were made more equal through this because womanhood and motherhood were seen as more valuable due to the miraculous way Christ came into the world (as cited by Maxwell, 1987, p. 16). Maxwell mentioned how Galatians 3:28 is often thought to be a very liberating verse for women because it said Christ has broken down all barriers and divisions previously set up (pp. 73-75) because that verse said, “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (NIV). Here, Christ was tearing down all the human-made barriers and stating that in spite of what people have come to believe everyone is one in him.
Throughout the Bible, it is demonstrated men and women were always intended to be equals, and it is still widely believed in the church men and women were created equal. However, many still do not let women enter into various positions in the church. The positions women are often banned from are ones of pastoral leadership. How does this portray the idea men and women are equal if men are allowed to hold any position in the church but women are barred from the most influential ones? If the sexes are equal, then both men and women should be able to hold the same positions in the church.
Another one of many reasons women should be allowed to take on the roles of pastoral leadership is women tend to have many gifts which would be extremely beneficial for pastoral leaders to possess. While not all men have the same gifts and not all women have the same gifts, some basic conclusions can be made about the general gifts and qualities people have. This will be addressed later.
First, it must be clarified some women do indeed have the spiritual gifts of teaching, pastoring, and leadership. Many assume women do not possess these gifts, but there is absolutely no evidence women cannot possess such gifts. In fact, the opposite is true. Mark Husbands and Timothy Larsen (2007) mentioned the lists of spiritual gifts in the New Testament are completely gender neutral (p. 116), and people have different gifts depending on what the Spirit gives them (p. 121). The Bible did not give its readers a list of masculine gifts and a list of feminine gifts, and that is for a reason. Encouragement and hospitality are not strictly feminine gifts, and leadership and teaching are not strictly masculine gifts. Many men are gifted with encouragement and hospitality, and many women who are gifted with the ability to teach and lead well.  Numerous examples exist throughout time of women incredibly gifted in these areas. Hamman (2010) recalled how during the past several years in the seminary he works at many academic awards and most performance awards related to leadership and preaching were awarded to women (p. 769).
            It is not that men do not at all hold gifts for leadership, teaching, administration, or have other qualities or gifts which are important for pastoral leadership. They certainly do, but there are also women who are equally gifted in these areas. Not only are many women highly gifted in the areas men would traditionally hold in the church, but there are other gifts women possess which would be extremely beneficial for our church leaders to have. Research from High Abilities Studies reported (2011) women tend to be more naturally inclined towards emotionality and sensuality (Wirthwein, L., Becker, C. V., Loehr, E., & Rost, D. H., p. 146). Pierson also said men tend not be highly gifted in the areas of heart qualities, moral intuition, affectional depth, empathy, sacrifice, and ability to suffer (as noted by Maxwell, 1987, p. 35). Being in ministry requires a leader to be empathetic. According to both Pierson’s and High Abilities Studies’ findings, women would be more naturally able in this area. Husbands and Larsen (2007) said women tend to be less aggressive, which could make for a more loving work and ministry environment. They also agreed women are more fluent verbally, which could make for greater communication among workers, more clarity in the vision of the church, and more understandable sermons (pp. 198-199). Browne’s (2002) findings affirm these thoughts (p. 13). The authors of A Fearful Symmetry? also pointed out the focuses of men and women are often quite different. They said women tend to focus more on relationships while men focus more on work. It also said men seem to gain their sense of self-worth from personal achievement in the public eye while women tend to enter into positions that center around people and deal with caring (Allchin, A. M., & Taylor, J. V., 1992, p. 15). Browne (2002) wrote that women have been found to have a higher work ethic as well (p. 82). How could ministry look different with women? It could mean ministry may become more relationally focused with leaders whose focuses are not on work (yet still work hard) but on relationships themselves. It could also mean ministry leaders are more humble and less focused on personal achievement. Many ministries and pastoral leaders do have these qualities but with more women present these ministries could excel in these areas even more.
            These sources show women do indeed have gifts of leadership, pastoring, and teaching as well as other gifts that come naturally to them which would be amazing for pastoral leaders to have so women should not be held back from exercising these gifts. As Edward and James Hastings once said, “if in our age God has given women who both can evangelize the world and teach the Church, it is not for the Church to reject this gift of the ascended Christ, but to use it with thankfulness and wisdom inspired by His spirit” (as quoted by Maxwell, 1987, p. 16). When women are welcomed to be in pastoral leadership alongside men, the faith community receives the necessary gifts men have and also the vital gifts women have.
            Not only does it make logical sense gifted women should be able to exercise their gifts, but God’s consistent use of women in leadership positions throughout the Bible shows it also makes biblical sense. This is a third reason women should be welcomed to leadership positions in the church. When looking back at the Old Testament, one could easily overlook Miriam, but she is not one to be forgotten. Maxwell (1987) was one of the few who did not forget her. He noted that she was a part of the deliverance of Israel and even Micah mentioned her part in it (p. 22). While Miriam’s contribution was impressive, she was not the only woman in the Old Testament who did great things for God. Deborah was also a Godly leader. Keener (n.d.) wrote that Deborah held the highest position in Israel in her day, that of a judge. It is also interesting to note there was nothing negative written about her like there is against most other judges (para. 5). Maxwell also drew attention to Deborah’s good leadership by noting Barak shows his dependence upon her in Judges 4:8 (p. 23). Just like Deborah, Huldah was also chosen by God to be a prophetess in a time when there were many men available to do the job, demonstrating God does not just choose women when there are not men to fill a position (p. 27). Theologian Scot McKnight (2011) mentioned how Josiah passed over Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Nahum, and Jeremiah to have Huldah do the work he needed to be done (p. 12). Huldah was a prophetess who helped start Israel’s greatest revival ever (p. 1). Women were not just eating fruit off of forbidden trees in the Old Testament. They were also being chosen by God to do great things for His glory.
            The New Testament continues to shower favor upon women in ministry. Carroll (1975) pointed out Jesus allowed women the honor of learning from him, which traditionally would never be a privilege a woman could have had (p. 663). Ben Witherington (1984) pointed out Jesus was not afraid to teach Mary in private despite the risk of scandal (pp. 114-115). Maxwell (1987) highlighted how well Jesus treated women in his ministry. He treated the Samaritan woman at the well and Mary of Bethany with much more respect than they would generally receive (pp. 50-52). Not only did Jesus associate with women, but he also used them in his teaching. Belleville (2000) noted women were frequently in Jesus’ teachings, and he often used them as positive examples, such as when he spoke of the widow’s great sacrifice and lifted up the woman who anointed him (p. 48). Evans (1983) also drew attention to Jesus’ teachings involving women. She said when Jesus used women in parables they often illustrated themes of persistence in prayer, mercy, joy of God over the salvation of others, and care (p. 48). It is also interesting how women treated Jesus. When Jesus was on the cross, there were many female followers present as mentioned in Mark 15:40-41. An anonymous poet even wrote this poem: “Not she with traitorous lips her Savior stung; not she denied Him with unholy tongue; she, whilst apostles shrunk, could danger brave; last at the cross, and earliest at the grave” (quoted by Maxwell, 1987, p. 56). As it is stated in the poem, the women who were at the cross when Jesus died were also the first at his grave. Carroll (1975) mentioned women were chosen to be the witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection (p. 665). They were commanded by the angel to tell everyone about it in Mark 16:7, which made them to be the first evangelists. If God meant for women to be silent in the church, He would not have had the angel tell the women to spread the news of Jesus’ resurrection.
Many complementarians point out, as Saucy and Tenelshof (2001) did, that Jesus only chose men as disciples (pp. 105-106). While this is true, it is still important to note how Jesus treated women and also important to remember the different leadership roles women held in the New Testament in the building of the church.
            The roles of women in ministry did not end when Jesus ascended into heaven. If one looks carefully, one will see how influential women were in the building of the early church and how important their roles were. For example in Paul’s letter to the Romans, he noted many women at the end of his letter. Payne (2015) affirmed seven of the 10 people mentioned in his list of co-laborers were indeed women and said “Paul’s naming such a high proportion of women leaders in an open society is unparalleled in the entire history of ancient Greek literature and suggests a level of female leadership in the early church exceptional for its culture” (p. 5). One of the women Paul mentioned was Junia. McKnight (2011) talked about how Paul wrote that Junia was highly esteemed by the apostles and thought to be an actual apostle herself (pp. 8-9). In all early translations of the Bible into other languages, Junia was assumed to be a woman. In fact, in English translations from Tyndale’s translation to the late 1800s Junia was thought to be a woman (p. 16). Of course, proving she was a woman does not solely prove her apostleship, but there are many things about the passage that suggest such. Belleville (2000) noted Paul mentioned Junia went to prison as well so this suggests their roles were quite similar (p. 55). If Junia were truly an apostle, as it is suspected, this greatly affects the argument about women in pastoral leadership. Another woman of faith was Lydia, a woman who led the people of Philippi and did not go unnoticed by Maxwell (1987, p. 63). He also mentioned how Paul said Euodia and Syntyche both shared in his struggle for the Gospel and said they were of the same mind as the Lord (p. 64). As Thomas declared, “not only is there no hint of any restriction on women, but on the contrary, it shows the Philippian church to be one in which women played a prominent part” (as cited by Evans, 1983, p. 128). Maxwell (1987) also talked about Philip’s four daughters who were prophetesses, which meant they were also teachers and preached the Gospel to both men and women (pp. 65-66). Dr. Spencer (1985) noted how Phoebe, Euodia, Syntyche, Prisca, and perhaps also Stephana, Lydia, Apphia, Nymphia, Tryphosa, Tryphaena, and Chloe were church overseers (p. 109). When one truly studies the Bible, it is easy to see that women were very involved in the early church.
Women held nearly every pastoral leadership position in the early church, with the exception of priestess. Payne said it is important to note one of the reasons women may not have been chosen by God to priestesses is in that time priestesses were associated with prostitutes in heathen cults, and God would never want His people to appear to be involved in anything as unwholesome as that (p. 4). Therefore, the argument against women never being priestesses has a sensible rebuttal and the fact remains women did indeed hold every other office showing God did not make women to only hold a select few positions.
            However, there are certainly passages in the Bible that seem to very clearly speak against women in ministry. Perhaps the most famous is 1 Timothy 2:8-15. Here, it said women should learn in quietness and submission. Paul also said he was not allowing women to teach or have authority over a man. It is also seemed to argue in the passage that the woman sinned first and therefore, she was the one who became the sinner. The words in those verses seem to make things completely clear. Walker (2011) noted this passage seems clear enough for complementarians, who are people who hold the view that God made men and women for different roles and do not support women ministering to the general congregation (p. 21), to make these verses their “controlling paradigm” (p. 79). Verses like that can seem like difficult verses for egalitarians, who hold the view men and women do not have set roles in the church or family life (p. 22), but one must keep digging deeper to find the true meaning and context of this passage and others that seem to clearly preach against women in ministry because the Scripture commonly used against women in pastoral leadership is often wrongly interpreted.
Payne (2015) started breaking down the 1 Timothy passage right away. He argued the entire context of 1 Timothy is there was a lot of false teaching occurring in Ephesus at the time. It is also important to note at this point in history women were woefully uneducated so when women spoke up they were unknowingly spitting out lies they had been fed by the false teachers. That is why Paul called for the women to be silent and not try to teach the men. Paul restricted the women specifically because they were the ones being deceived (p. 6). Keener (n.d.) said Paul’s point in the passage about Eve was meant as a way to parallel how Eve sinned because she was deceived just like the women of Ephesus were (para. 28).
Payne (2015) also covered 1 Timothy chapter 3. It is widely said that because this section only talks about the requirements of men in leadership, women were never meant for it. However, 1 Timothy 3:1 says “anyone who aspires to be an overseer desire a noble task.” Payne mentioned how in the Greek language the word used for ‘anyone’ is not strictly masculine. It is a gender-inclusive word so both men and women have the opportunity to be overseers (p. 7).
Another common “problem passage” is in 1 Corinthians 14. In these verses, it said women were to be silent in the church. Bilezikian (1985) argued the idea that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 was supposed to be Paul quoting someone else, and then the following verses were meant to rebuke that idea. This is supported by the fact there is a sudden turn at that point in the text (pp. 115-116), it does not align with Paul’s actions towards women, and the audience would likely have been Jewish and therefore have those beliefs. Maxwell (1987) also pointed out that it would seem quite contradictory for Paul to say women should be silent, when in the same letter he talked about how he allowed women to pray and prophesy (p. 17). With all the times Paul openly supported women taking leadership in churches, it would not make sense for Paul to call for women to be silent in the church. Maxwell (1987) gave another suggestion for the meaning of this passage. He suggested perhaps women had been speaking up in the middle of services and it was causing confusion. That idea may seem unlikely, but there are records of people interrupting services and uproars occurring in Acts so it could have been an issue in those churches in Corinth (pp. 88-89).
Another passage often brought up that has to do with women in the church is 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. There it said women should have their heads covered. Keener’s (n.d.) response to the issue was that “although Paul often advocated the mutuality of gender roles, he also worked within the boundaries of his culture where necessary for the sake of the gospel…. When Paul urged women in the Corinthian churches to cover their heads (the only place where the Bible teaches about this), he followed a custom prominent in many Eastern cultures of his day. Although women and men alike covered their heads for various reasons, married women specifically covered their heads to prevent men other than their husbands from lusting after their hair. A married woman who went out with her head uncovered was considered promiscuous and was to be divorced as an adulteress. Because of what head coverings symbolized in that culture, Paul asked the more liberated women to cover their heads so they would not scandalize the others” (para. 16 & 17). This verse does not condemn women at all and was not meant to shame them, but it was only important because it was culturally important at the time of Paul’s writing.
            Another verse that comes up in the discussion of women in ministry is Genesis 3:16, which said what consequences men and women would each have due to the fall of humanity. Maxwell (1987) addressed this verse and talked about how although its words seem to condemn women, the verse actually shows that both men and women were responsible for the fall of humanity and will experience consequences. He suggested the verse was not prescriptive, but descriptive when it said women will be ruled by their husbands (pp. 36-41).
            Maxwell (1987) also brought up 1 Corinthians 11’s discussion of headship. Most interpret this to mean men should rule and have power over women. However, Maxwell said headship was never meant to spark a discussion of superiority versus inferiority, only order. This is supported by 1 Corinthians 11:3 because there it said the head of Christ is God. It does not mean there Christ and God were not equal, only that Christ was subject to God (pp. 82-83). Therefore, even the argument of headship does not stand as one against women in pastoral leadership when truly looked at. In fact, when all the common “problem passages” are really and truly examined, they actually strengthen the argument for women in ministry.
            In the course of history, many women have proven themselves to be Godly leaders and teachers. Maxwell (1987) dedicated three long chapters to list over 20 women who have been great teachers and leaders in his book. Three among them are Catherine Booth, Jessie Penn-Lewis, and Anne Hasseltine Judson. Booth was the co-founder of the Salvation Army with her husband and in fact widely accepted as the reason the Salvation Army was started. Lewis has been called one of the most gifted speakers the world has known. Judson was a pioneer of the female missionary effort (pp. 106-107, 109, 120). Imagine how many people would have not been saved if it were not for Judson and the other female missionaries she inspired. Imagine the world without the Salvation Army and other organizations like it. Imagine the world without great speakers like Lewis who call people to live Christ-like lives. What has the world missed out on? Anderson (2014) wondered the same and said “for thousands of years, who knows what beautiful gifts the church has missed out on because it has shut out over half of the world’s population from having roles of significant leadership” (para. 9). The world has enjoyed so many wonderful things because women stepped up and led, but there are still unfortunately thousands of others who did not get the opportunity to step up and lead who could have made a huge difference in the world.
            One reason the world has missed out on the influence of women is women are not encouraged enough to make an impact. Alexander (2012) argued women desperately need encouragement from the Church (p. 410). She says rather than encouragement, women instead are often told they will be hard to place and many women are encouraged to pursue less prominent, “safer” ministry areas like counseling or youth ministry (p. 405). She suggested instead of pushing them towards “safer” ministry areas, leaders and ministers of influence should focus on being intentional about sponsoring gifted women who hold great potential. Alexander said influential leaders must be willing to take a risk, since doing this would be going against the status quo (pp. 410-411). Alexander pointed out that if influential leaders do not give these gifted women a chance then “younger women will have no models of how they can fulfill their own calling”, and the lack of women in ministry will only continue to exist (p. 411). However, having women in pastoral leadership positions is not the complete solution. Those in any kind of ministry must strive to make sure that certain things are present so that both men and women can thrive. Spencer (1985) noted that mutual respect, the building up of each other, the cultivation of true community, focusing on fixing our own issues, giving others the benefit of the doubt, rejoicing in one another, and tolerance are important things church leaders must practice in order for there to be strong ministries where males and females can effectively work and do ministry together (pp. 168-171).
            The world needs strong, Godly pastoral leaders. If women were welcomed into pastoral leadership positions, the world may just get the leaders it so desperately needs. Women should be welcomed as pastoral leaders in the church because banning women from certain ministry positions contradicts the idea that men and women are equal, women have many qualities that would be beneficial for church leaders to have, God’s frequent use of women in the Bible shows that a woman in ministry is biblical, and the passages frequently used against the idea of women in ministry are often not properly examined.  Gifted women have been kept from leading in ministry for far too long. It is time for the Church to stop putting up barriers for them and start embracing them for the gifts they add to ministry.


Alexander, K. E. (January 2012). Pentecostal women: Chosen for an exalted destiny. Theology Today, 68(4). DOI: 10.1177/0040573611424932
            The author of the article Dr. Kimberly Alexander is a professor at Regent University School of Divinity and former president for the Society of Pentecostal Studies. The publication this article was in, Theology Today, is an academic journal which is put forth by Sage Publications for the Princeton Theological Seminary. I used this source to illustrate how men and women are treated differently in ministry, and how leaders can better support women in ministry.
Allchin, A. M., & Taylor, J. V. (1992). A fearful symmetry?: The complementarity of men and women in ministry. London: SPCK.
Anderson, M. (2014, August 1). Why I Am A Feminist. Retrieved from
Belleville, L. L. (2000). Women leaders and the church: Three crucial questions. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.
Bilezikian, G. G. (1989). Beyond sex roles: What the Bible says about a woman's place in church and family. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.
Browne, K. (2002). Biology at work: Rethinking sexual equality. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press.
            Kingsley Browne is a law professor at Wayne State University who is also the author of a couple books. Biology at Work, his first publication was published by Rutgers University Press. I used this source to affirm my previous findings on the different traits of men and women.
Carroll, E. (1975). Women and ministry. Theological Studies36(4).
            Dr. Elizabeth Carroll has done lots of research, has many publications, was a president of the Pittsburgh Sisters of Mercy and of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and was president of Carlow College. Her article “Women and Ministry” was published in the academic journal Theological Studies by Sage Publications. I used this source to show how Jesus involved women in his ministry and how women responded to him.
Evans, M. J. (1983). Woman in the Bible. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press.
Hamman, J. J. (2010). Resistance to women in ministry and the psychodynamics of sadness. Pastoral Psychology, 59(6). DOI:
            Dr. Jaco Hamman studied both theology and psychology in college, is a professor at Vanderbilt Divinity School, has experience in ministry and psychology, and has many published works. This particular work is in the well-known academic journal Pastoral Psychology. I used this source to find out how women pursuing ministry are treated by one who interacts with them everyday.
Husbands, M., & Larsen, T. (2007). Women, ministry and the Gospel: Exploring new paradigms. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic.
            This source was edited by Mark Husbands and Timothy Larsen. Husbands is the associate professor of theology at Hope College and Larsen is a professor of Christian Thought at Wheaton College. This book was published by IVP Academic. I used this source to learn about the gifting of men and women.
Keener, C.S. Was Paul for or against women in ministry? Enrichment Journal. Retrieved from
Maxwell, L. E., & Dearing, R. C. (1987). Women in ministry. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
McKnight, S. (2011). “Junia is not alone.” Englewood, Colorado: Patheos Press.
Payne, P.B. (Winter 2015).  The Bible teaches the equal standing of man and woman. Priscilla Papers, Volume 29, Number 1. Retrieved from
Saucy, R. L. & Tenelshof, J. K. (2001). Women and men in ministry: a complementary perspective. Chicago, Illinois, Moody Press.
            Robert L. Saucy is a professor at Talbot Theological Seminary, was the president of the Evangelical Theological Society, and is an author. Judith K. Tenelshof is a professor at Talbot School of Theology, has started and led counseling centers in churches and schools, is the founder and vice president of Hilltop Renewal Center for Christian Leaders, and is an author. Their book was published by Moody Bible Institute’s Moody Press. I used this source to find out more arguments complementarians make.
Spencer, A. B. (1985). Beyond the curse: women called to ministry. Nashville: T. Nelson.
Walker, D.H. (2011). Women in ministry: the logical core of the debate (Doctoral dissertation)Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.
            Dr. Douglas Walker wrote this dissertation to obtain his PhD in philosophy. It was published by Trinity International University. I used this source to determine the different viewpoints on women in ministry and also find out what verses egalitarians hold to be most valuable to their argument.
Wirthwein, L., Becker, C. V., Loehr, E., & Rost, D. H. (2011). Overexcitabilities in gifted and non-gifted adults: Does sex matter? High Ability Studies22(2). doi:10.1080/13598139.2011.622944
Witherington, B. (1984). Women in the ministry of Jesus: A study of Jesus' attitudes to women and their roles as reflected in his earthly life. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire: Cambridge University Press.

            Dr. Ben Witherington III is a New Testament scholar, professor at Asbury Theological Seminary, and pastor in the United Methodist Church. This book he wrote was published by Cambridge University Press. I used this source to find out how Jesus treated women, specifically how he taught them.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Prostitution, Parties, & Peru

Like I said in my last post, I feel as though God has been talking to me a lot on the subject of seeing the world. Like most human beings, I avoid discomfort and pain a little too much. When I hear about tragedy and the pain of others around the world I try to distance myself. I was challenged on this in chapel (at Northwestern) last spring. I downloaded a news app this spring to keep up with what is going on the world more. Still, I have been feeling lately like this is not nearly enough. It is not enough to check out the news app every once in a while and see what is going on through the eye's of an author. Lately, I have been feeling like God is calling me to see the world for myself. With this constant nudging came the repetition of a quote by one of my heroes. This hero of mine chose to see the world and face it. That is why William Wilberforce is one of the people I admire the most. The quote that continually repeated itself was this: "you may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know." I feel like God doesn't want me to able to say 'I did not know'. I feel like God is calling me to know - to know the world as it truly is, not just the rose-colored glasses version. He wants me to see the world through His eyes. Now, this requires a great bit of discomfort and pain, which as I mentioned I am not particularly fond of. But God doesn't usually ask us to do easy things now, does He?

God gave me this call and then just like He usually does He plopped several opportunities to live out that call in front of me within a matter of a couple of weeks.

Right when I was feeling like seeing the world was something I needed to do I was asked to be a leader of a weekly ministry team called Seeds of Hope. Seeds is a new Northwestern ministry started by friends of mine and what we do is we go out into the cities and minister to real people with real stories right where they are. The past 3 Saturday nights I have gone out with them have been amazing. God has truly blessed our time and allowed us to impact people. But He has also shown me the world through it. The first week we went to the U of M... during homecoming. That was completely eye-opening for me. I had never seen anything like it in my life. I thought college parties in the movies were completely exaggerated but what I saw that night was just like all those movies. It hurt to see it. It hurt to see all those people ruining their lives when they thought they were truly living them. But at the end of the evening I knew that I was there that night because God wanted me to see it all and dare me to feel something about it rather than try to shut it out. It is easy to make Northwestern a bubble where you stay and get a Christian education with Christian friends and never leave the safety net. But that is not exactly what God wants from us. He calls us to train ourselves to impact the world for His sake, yes. He calls us to be in community with other believers, yes. But He also calls us to be in the world and that is something I think we are called to do now as students. We don't have to wait for God to use us. He wants us to go out now and reach out to people.

Another way I feel like God is helping me to see the world came through a piece of paper. It was almost like God legitimately sent me an invitation (except it was not actually addressed to me - although it might as well have been). Before I tell you about this piece of paper there is some background you need to know. I have been on 4 mission trips now. They have all been within the states and have all impacted me greatly. I had every intention of going on the last Revolution mission trip next summer. But I was trying to figure out how I could do that if I were able to intern somewhere like I intend to. I didn't know if it would be a possibility so I started thinking about other mission trip opportunities. If I were to be unavailable in the summer I would only have one other window of opportunity to go on a trip: spring break. Luckily Northwestern sends teams out to places all over the country during spring break. They often go to New Orleans so I started thinking about how great it would be to go back to the place where God decided I would leave part of my heart. But before they announced where they were going over spring break I ran into this piece of paper. It was announcing an informational meeting about a trip to Peru. And get this - the trip was not over the summer like all but one of the international trips UNW takes are. This trip was happening during spring break. Coincidence? Probably not. For about a year now I have been thinking about how I have seen the world through mission trips but how in America nothing is quite so extreme as it is everywhere else. I was thinking about how going on a mission trip overseas would be so different and I began to think that maybe it was about time I go on an international trip. Well, here God was giving me one. Still, being a human, I tried to make excuses. Like how I am not a person built for the jungle or the mountains or warm weather in general and how I don't exactly speak fluent Spanish along with other excuses. But I realized quickly they were very weak excuses and my prayers for clarity were resulting in answers of "yep, Kallee, Peru" and "yes, I am calling you to go see all kinds of things that will hurt you to see them but it's something I need you to do for me". So long story short I spent my day today renewing my passport and in less than five months I will be in South America.

A third way God is continuing to show me the world is through Streetlight, Northwestern's homeless ministry. Every week we get to meet people with stories very different from ours and it is amazing. It can be eye-opening too. But this year there has been an additional opportunity God has given us through Streetlight to see the world even more. This year we have been able to do street ministry. Now this isn't average street ministry This is Franklin and Chicago in South Minneapolis at 11:00 on a Friday night. It is not family friendly and the Dove foundation would not approve of that picture. In many ways it feels like the devil's playground. Everywhere on those streets he is altering people's minds in order to try to keep them from the Gospel. It can feel like no one on those streets is sober but that doesn't stop us. This last time we went out was especially eye-opening for me. James, a staff member of the Marie Sandvik Center, came with us and as a former walker of the streets he pointed things out to us we might never have seen before. He pointed out a drug dealer to us as well as an actual drug deal going down. While James was explaining some of these things to us we made light conversation with a woman passing by. We then watched her as she continued down the street and a car made a U turn. We watched the car pull into the parking lot of the strip mall and the woman walk over to the car. We saw them talk and then we watched the woman get in. Then James said "yeah, that just happened". So now I can add prostitution to my list of things I have seen but never want to see again.

God has been showing me the world these past few weeks. And I can't always say that I have loved what I have seen. In fact a lot of what I see makes me sick but I know it is what I need to see because in order to change the world we must know the world even if knowing the world breaks our hearts. It is okay that it does because when our hearts are broken that much we are forever changed. And when we are forever changed we are moved to action.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Opening our Eyes to our Brothers and Sisters

In chapel a few weeks ago we took a moment of silence for the victims of 9/11 and we talked about the Syrian refugee crisis. When I got back to my dorm after Greek class that day I listened to a radio clip that was recorded on 9/11/01 and then a video John Green posted explaining the refugee crisis (I know - some heavy topics for a Friday afternoon after class). Anyway, it got me thinking about what our brothers and sisters around the world face. I think we often think of the world as 'us' and 'them' but a better way to view the world is 'we'. We are all in this world together at this same time in history and I believe it is all for a reason. Those thoughts inspired me to write this post. In this post I will write about who are brothers and sisters are, how people have cared for their brothers and sisters in the past, why we need to take note of what they are going through now, and how we can help others (if at all).

Who are our brothers and sisters?
In the Bible other people are often called our brothers/sisters. The Greek word adelphos, which is generally translated as brother or sister, is used over 300 times in the New Testament. Over 250 of those uses almost absolutely do not refer to a family member. (For more on this look no further.) What does this mean? It means Jesus does not want us to just care for our direct family members. He calls us to love people outside of our bloodline. So once again that begs the question: who are our brothers and sisters? Well, I think that question is a different way to ask the question "who is our neighbor?" In Luke 10:25-37 an expert of the law asks Jesus the same question. Jesus answers by telling him the story of the good Samaritan. The story showed us that everyone is our neighbor. It is easy to distance ourselves from the struggles of others on the other side of the globe but that isn't what we are called to do for our neighbors.

Why should I care about other people?
1 John 2:10 says "whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling". John 13:34-35 says "a new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." If that doesn't convince you then maybe this will. As you may know, 1 Corinthians chapter 13 is known as the "love chapter" of the Bible. In it, it say this:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Why should we love other people? Besides the fact that they are our brothers and sisters, we are nothing without love.

Can I even make an impact?
Short answer: yes. You can make an impact. You may not be able to completely change the world yourself but we all have an impact and we get to choose the kind of impact we make. The song "The World You Want" by Switchfoot asks "is this the world you want?" Then goes on to say "you are making it (the world) every day you are alive". So according to them we make an impact no matter what so it might as well be a positive one, right? History proves one person can make a huge difference. Need an example? Well, here is one: Adolf Hitler. He changed the world - no one can argue that. It was in a terrible way that he changed the world but he did indeed change it. Examples of people who changed the world positively include Jesus (of course), William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther, the apostle Paul, and many others. One person can make a difference. I promise you that. My life has been deeply affected by the actions of single people. I would not be sitting here at Northwestern if it weren't for Dr. William Bell Riley, who started Northwestern, along with all the donors and presidents and staff and faculty who have kept it going since then. Or for that matter the many people who encouraged me to check out UNW. Come to think of it I would not have started looking at Christian colleges at all if it weren't for me putting my faith in Christ. That was a result of going to Eagle Brook Church, which I wouldn't have done if it weren't for a friend of mine from North Lakes Academy. I wouldn't have gone there if it weren't for the founder Jackie or if it weren't for my mom's encouragement. This is just one simple line of connections to show that how other's lives and choices affect us. Whether we like it or not our lives are all connected and the choices we make affect other people. We are affected by the choices of many before us, and others around us and those to come will live differently (for better or worse) because of our choices. So now here comes the question: What will your impact be? Will you be remembered as a person who reached down and reached out to others in need? Will you be remembered as a person who encouraged others to change the world? What do you want to be written about you in your eulogy?

How can we best make an impact?
In order for us to make the greatest impact possible we must be educated. I don't mean we have to know trigonometry or chemistry. I mean we have to know the world as it is. (This is something I feel like God has been trying to teach me lately and I want to share a bit more of my journey with this lately in another blog.) In order for us to change the world, we must know what needs to be changed. Makes sense, right? The only thing is that this particular type of education will not always be pleasant. In fact, it may very well break your heart. Still, we must force ourselves to walk away from comfort for the sake of knowledge. If we don't truly know what is going on in the world we can never have true motivation to change it.

Warning: Getting educated about the condition of the world may very well change you and wreck you in the greatest way possible because before we can make a change we ourselves must change.

What is your next step?
Maybe you need to simply gain more knowledge of the world or maybe you are at the point where you need to experience it. Below are a few suggestions for next steps. I encourage you to think or pray about what God might be calling you to do to better understand the world...

1. Start reading the stories of persecuted Christians from The Voice of the Martyrs  and pray for them
2. Read the heartbreaking facts about sex trafficking
3. Hear the facts and stories of women who had abortions
4. Read about how people who are homeless are just like you and me from Invisible People and then join a homeless ministry
5. Find out more about extreme global poverty and then dedicate one day's wages to help end it
6. Read about world hunger and then go pack food at Feed My Starving Children
7. Sponsor a child with Compassion
8. Go on a mission trip and see the world as it is

"Be the change you wish to see in the world"
- Gandhi

Monday, August 31, 2015

Seeing Your Schedule as Your Life's Script

Fall is a busy time of year. Schedules are packed. And it got me thinking about the value of our time. So I decided to write about it.

A while back I heard a message by Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Okay, well in reality I listen to his messages all the time but I am going to talk about a specific one I heard last fall. He said some things that struck me. One of the statements he made is that when you plan your schedule you plan your life's script. It isn't a profound or groundbreaking statement but it felt like it was because I had never seen my schedule in that light before. Another thing that struck me during his sermon was a question he posed. If God were in control of your schedule would it look different? That message got me thinking about my life and where I put my priorities.

Then Friday afternoon when I was doing some reading for a reflection assignment for Introduction to Ministry I was asked a similar question. It got me thinking about how important our schedule is. What it contains, who is in it, and how much is in it are all very important things. I would like to look at each of those pieces a little closer.

What Our Schedule Contains
Where are we investing out time? What kinds of things fill our lives? Is it filled with things that focus on others or ourselves? God or idols? Serving or being served? It is often not until we truly look at our calendars that we can find the answers. We need to balance the "what" in our schedules. We should look at our calendars and easily find family, work, friends, volunteering, and God (and whatever else we truly value). One easy way to see what truly matters to us is to color code our schedules. I know I do. It allows me to see what my life is really filled with. Lately when I look at my schedule all I see is work. Now work is good but we can't work 24/7 and have a perfectly fulfilled life. We need relationships and we need to prioritize them (I'll talk about this more in the next section). So what activity dominates our time? If it is hard to recognize one of those pieces that we say are one of our core values then maybe we should make some changes.

Who Is In Our Schedule
What kind of people have priority in our schedules? People who help us grow or people who make us less like the kind of person God is calling us to be? No matter what people say who we spend our time with truly does determine who we become. So who are your top 5 people you spend the most time with. Are they the kind of people you hope to become? Because you become more and more like them all the time without even realizing it. Another thing we should do when it comes to the "who" in our schedule is that we should invest in others. We should mentor and guide those who aren't as experienced as us in whatever way we can wherever we can. We can help the new guy at work or the freshman at college or a younger family member. It isn't always easy but it is worth it. So do we invest enough in people who need us? Also, do we spend enough time with our families? Everyone's family is different. Every one has struggles but they vary in kind and how big they are so I can understand why many may cringe at the thought of spending time with one of their family members. I am pretty lucky to have the family I do. Families at their best are there for one another. They provide a support system but you can't be your part of the system if you never spend time with your family. It can be easy to put family on the schedule last. Especially when work or school or other things get busy but family isn't something we should tack onto the calendar if we have time. It should have priority. If it doesn't then maybe your should get out your pencil and eraser. So what kind of changes do we need to make to our schedules so that the right people are in our schedules?

How Much Is In Our Schedule
We must not just focus on who is in our schedule or what is in our schedule. We must also take a look at how much we put in our schedule. If our calendars are bare then we may not be reaching the potential we were meant to. When we have things on our calendars it means that we have things to do. We have responsibilities and responsibilities in themselves are not a bad thing. It is a very good thing. We are meant to work. Our lives are very dull without work. However there is such a thing as a schedule that is too full. I think that the average reader is probably more likely to have this issue. These days people are always on the move. That is why we have fast food. People don't have time for sit-down meals. Why else would we need a drive-thru? This is why we order things for pick-up. We don't have the time. We have planners because if we didn't we would never remember all of our responsibilities. People are always on the move and on the go. Being active is good... up to a point. Many people, however, push themselves way too much. Some think that is good but I tend to think differently. I think when we are SO busy we never give anything our full attention. When we are in church and we spend the whole service thinking about how we are going to fit in all of the things we are doing that day then that isn't good. We need to have a schedule full of meaningful things but we don't need that schedule to be overflowing. That benefits no one. We need our schedule to allow us to listen to God and do as He says. If our schedule is maxed out we don't have time to do the things God is prompting us to do like sit down and have dinner with a friend who is down or spend some extra time with Him.

There is truly a lot more to our schedules than most of us think. I hope this post made you think a little bit and I hope you truly reflect on what your schedule might look like in God's eyes. If you don't have time to do that then maybe you have already found what you need to change.

Reflection and Application
I know I already touched on this a bit but I want to condense it down to a few questions to reflect on...
1. What are your core values? Does your schedule show that?
2. Who are the most important people in your life? Does your schedule show that they are a priority?
3. Who are the top 5 people you spend your time with? Do you want to become like them (because you will)?
4. Is your schedule too full for you to listen to God's promptings and enjoy life or is it not full enough that you are wasting potential God put in you?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Powerful Connections Between Faith, Hope, and Love

1 Corinthians 13:13 says "three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love" (NLT translation). Paul's emphasis on faith, hope, and love interests me quite a bit. Recently when thinking over the ideas of faith, hope, and love I realized how interconnected they truly are. Let me explain...

One cannot really love without having hope that their love will be received and one cannot love without having faith that their love will not be abused. Similarly one cannot really have faith without loving the one they have faith in and one cannot have faith without hoping that their faith will not be wasted. Also one cannot have hope without having faith in something and the result of hope is love.

The connections between those three fascinate me beyond end. In fact, if you don't mind I would like to keep going with this.

When we place our faith in something or someone we usually love that person or that thing to some degree. We trust them (or it). When we are young we place our faith (our trust) in our parents because we love them and they love us. Our pets have faith in us because we show love and affection for them. As a result they generally show care and love back to us. One of the examples that comes to mind of this is Hagrid (from Harry Potter). He has faith in his half-brother Grawp to become civilized because Hagrid loves him. He won't give up on him because he loves him and has faith in him.We know we can put our faith in God because He loves us. That love assures us that we can trust Him. Faith and hope are also connected. When we put our faith in something or someone we hope that our faith will not be wasted. When we sit on a chair we have some amount of faith in it and we hope it will not break. Now for a major step in analogies. When we put our faith in God we have ultimate hope because we have been promised some incredible things from Him like protection, unconditional love, and of course eternity with Him. As Christians we can live with a wonderful sense of hope because of the faith that we have in God.

Now to turn that around. Similarly one cannot have hope without putting their faith in something. No matter whether someone is an atheist or a Christian everyone has faith in something. Some people have faith because of their faith in themselves. Some people have faith because of their faith in science. Some people have faith because they believe God will redeem them. No matter who you are everyone has faith of some kind. Even in the little things we have hope due to our faith. We have hope that cute boy who sits kitty corner to you in second hour likes you because your friend told you that he did. Your hope comes from your faith in your friend. You have hope that dinner will be good because your nose is telling you it will be good and you trust your sense of smell. Hope and faith are forever linked and it is amazing to think about! Hope and love are also connected. One connection that can be made is this: when we have hope we react in love. When we have hope that God has redeemed us because of His love for us we react with love too. We love our neighbors. We love God. When we are hopeful about our future it allows us to be joyful and therefore more loving towards others.

When we show love to another human being or an animal or even to God we love hoping that our love will be received. We hope the other person will express love back to us. We hope our kids will appreciate the care we show them. We hope that special someone will love us back. Even with pets we hope for their returned affection. Whenever we love we also have this unspoken hope inside of us. At the same time faith also works with love. When we love we have faith that our love will not be abused. When we marry someone we have faith that they we will be faithful to us. When we love God we have faith that He will accept our love. Sometimes people even love wild animals hoping they will love them back. Those people are usually misplacing their faith. However, when we choose to love God we can know our faith will never be misplaced.

I hope you enjoyed reading about the deep rooted connections between faith, hope, and love. Which of these three are you best at? Which one would you like to become better at?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

9 Things You Should Do Your First Year of College

Since I spent many of my waking hours at college this year, now have many college friends, and by
the end of the summer will have taken 12 college courses I figure I am at least semi-qualified to tell you about college. So here are 9 things you should do in college (preferably starting your freshman year)...

1. Get on the professor's good side before you need something
Your professors will have lots of students. If you can stand out in a good way that is very important because when you need something they will be a lot more interested in talking to you and trying to help you. You don't want to need a favor and your professor see you as 'the kid that walks in late every day'. Be respectful and kind. They work hard and deserve the respect. Many are very willing to help you pass the class or help you get that internship but if you never respect them you will have a tough time.

2. Take the opportunity to talk to people you don't know
There are several hundred to several thousand people on campus. You will not know everyone by week three. I guarantee you that. Even after year three chances are there will still be people in your own class that you don't know. Still, take the time to talk to people you don't know.You could become best friends. Okay, while not extremely likely that will happen with everyone you sit down and talk to you may be surprised to hear the things you have in common. At the very least you will probably have an interesting conversation so take the time to talk to the person you are sitting by at lunch or in class.

3. Go to events
Yes, you are not paying thousands of dollars to go to events. True. But if you are going to be paying thousands of dollars and only get a few years there, make the most of it. Go to football games with friends - even if you hate football. You may not remember the game but you may remember the time you were jumping around cheering for the team and your friend made you fall on the guy in front of you. Go to the band concerts and cheer on your friends. You may not remember the pieces they played but chances are that friend will remember you were there for her. Go to events - if you are lucky you may end up with a new friend or at least some free food. Both are pretty good.

4. Live on campus
If you can, live on campus. There is something special about living 100 feet from your friends or (if you are lucky) living with your friends. Some crazy adventures happen and if you don't live on campus you will miss a lot of them. I know because I have missed out on some crazy adventures with my friends by living at home. But that's okay because this year at home has made me realize how much I want to live there and next year I will appreciate those times all the more.

5. Join something
When I ask fellow college students what they recommend freshman do I always hear the phrase 'join something'. Join band. Join choir. Join track. Join swing dancing club. Join something. Joining something gives you the chance to get to know people outside people in your major and your hall mates. When I joined a group I honestly feel like I joined a family. So get connected right away by joining a group and be part of something incredible.

6. Buy your books online or from other students
Whatever you do, don't buy all your books for the campus bookstore. That is a rookie mistake. Check out all the best textbook sites and see what other prices you can get. Also, another great place to look is down the hall. A lot of students are looking to sell their books back and 90% won't ask nearly as much for them as the campus bookstore. And even if they want to keep their books many will actually just let you borrow them for the semester.

7. Meet with advisers and have a plan
If you know what major you want to pursue and if you have any other plans (like internships you want to do or adding on a minor) then it is a very good idea to meet with your advisers. They know what classes you should be taking and in what order.

8. Talk with juniors and seniors in your major
They know what professors to take and which ones you want to avoid like the plague. They also will know which classes you will need to study for the most and which ones are okay to slack on a bit. Like previously mentioned, you also may be able to borrow or buy some textbooks from them too! (Side note: another great tool to find out which professors are good is - true, some students have the poorest reasons for rating professors as bad or good but overall it can give you a fair idea of what a professor is like)

9. Enjoy the journey
Above all though, do not let these moments go by you. Don't spend your whole four years wasting time and be preoccupied with other things. Go out on late night adventures with your roommates. Meet new people. Take interesting classes. Enjoy your college experience while you can. You will never forget it.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

My Compassion Story

My family started sponsoring a little girl in Mozambique in 2010 through World Vision, a company very similar to Compassion. That was the first time I had ever really had any knowledge or experience of the fact that people could sponsor children in other countries. During the next several years I heard many "Compassion talks". I even heard a few by the lead singer (Mike Donehey) of my favorite band Tenth Avenue North. His talks were compelling and got me excited for the time when I could sponsor a child someday on my own. Then in June 2013 while I was at Joyful Noise I heard Mike give yet another "Compassion talk". This time, however, was different.

As Mike finished his talk volunteers came around with packets which had pictures of children from all around the world that needed sponsors. I raised my hand and a volunteer handed me a picture of Jose Aldair, a little boy from Honduras. I filled out the paperwork and went to the Compassion table. That is where my journey with Compassion International began.

Over the course of the next two years I wrote letters to and received letters from Jose Aldair and his family. Through those letters I was able to learn a lot about Aldair and he was able  to learn a lot about me. I even got letters from his pastor Carlos, tutor Carmen, and project director Becky. I got an updated photo of him and many wonderful drawings from him (seriously that little boy draws better than me). Each note I would receive would bring me such joy. I will share just a few quotes from his letters and you will quickly be able to see why I loved them so much. One of the notes that his sister wrote out for him said this: "He says that when he grows up he wants to be a person like you to help other people." His mom wrote me and said "I'm very happy because you chose my son and he has learned a lot in the project." Another from his mom said "he thanks God because he can count on you". Those simply notes showed me something important. They showed me that one person can make a difference and if you ever doubt that you can change someone's life then I challenge you to sponsor a child because you will find out the truth. I've never missed the $38 a month I send to Aldair because I know what the money is doing is much better than anything I could ever spend it on here. His letters said some of the most touching things I have ever heard. Just about every letter ended similarly to this one: "God bless your life and that of your family. Aldair says that he always prays for you and asks for your prayer. Aldair says goodbye with much love and care, hoping that you will write to him soon."

Sponsoring Jose Aldair was a huge blessing and privilege but that fall after I started sponsoring him I suddenly wasn't having any tutoring business. So from September 2013 to February 2014 I watched my savings dwindle and I began to wonder what to do. I knew I wouldn't give up on him - that much I was sure of. And I didn't want to put the burden of paying for him on my parents. So I began to talk about getting a job but my parents didn't want me to because I was going to start PSEO the following fall. I felt completely stuck and one Sunday I was just felt so helpless I cried about it. Three days after that God totally stepped in. I got a call from a girl I knew from school asking if I would be interested in  being a personal care assistant for her sister. I met with the family and did some research on what being a personal care assistant actually meant & I started with her a few weeks later. God stepped in at a time I was desperate to continue His work and He blessed me even more by providing me with a job that was flexible, paid well, and was one that I loved. I could talk forever about how being a PCA has blessed me but I will save that for another blog post. Anyway because of that job I was able to continue sponsoring Aldair.

I sponsored Aldair for two years. This past May, however, I got a letter saying that his family pulled him from the program. I don't know the reason. Most likely they simply needed him to work at home. Whatever the circumstances I pray his two years in the program will benefit him in life. I continue to pray for him and will do so for a long time to come. Just because I don't monetarily sponsor him anymore doesn't mean I can't spiritually sponsor him.

However, this did mean that I could monetarily sponsor another child. And I have started doing so. When Aldair left the program I got word they were sending me information about another child. About three weeks after Aldair left the program I was at Joyful Noise yet again. They had the Compassion Experience there and so I decided to go through it with my friends. It was amazing. At the end of it they had a room filled with pictures of children that needed sponsors all around the world. I had never really gotten the opportunity to look at all the Compassion kids so I decided to look around. When I was looking I came across a little girl in a red and white dress named Esther. She stuck out to me. Probably because the girl that we sponsor as a family is named Esther. I picked up her packet and looked it over for a while. I set it down after a few moments and continued looking at the rest of the children but I ended up coming back to her. It was as if God was saying "pick her". I didn't know whether the information about the other child was coming or not but I decided to start sponsoring her. Of course, when I came home that evening the packet with the other child's information was there. I hated having to say I couldn't sponsor him too but I hoped someone would sponsor him. I recently looked online to see if he was still waiting to be sponsored and thankfully he is not. Someone has started sponsoring him!

My journey with sweet little Esther has just begun but I am looking forward to sponsoring this little one for a long time to come. I hope to sponsor her until she graduates the program. In fact, someday I would love to visit her in Haiti.

If you have never heard of Compassion before now I would encourage you to look it up. In fact I will help you out, you can find out more here. There are currently over 1.5 million children sponsored through Compassion but there could be more. So what about you? Do you have your own Compassion story? Or is this the story of your own story?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Chicago: Because We Don't Want to Say "Tomorrow" Today

I left the Blaine campus of Eagle Brook Church at 8 a.m. on  the morning of June 22, 2015 for Chicago, IL. I didn't know what God had planned but I was excited to see what it was. Life with God is like a good book - there are always grand adventures. Life with God is much like life with Ferris Bueller - not all at what you expected it to be. The next few days were a whirlwind of an adventure and I want to share with you some of the observations I made, things I experienced, and things I saw. The way I will do this is take you on the trip by telling you a little about each day.

Monday: Keep a Mission Trip Mindset
When we arrived at North Park University late in the afternoon we knew the drill: get your room key and bring your luggage to your room. So we did. It just wasn't quite as easy as we expected it to be. For one thing, it was dreadfully hot outside and surprisingly, nearly as hot inside. We were all banking on the expensive private school in Illinois to have A/C. Apparently not. Secondly, the line to check in and get our room keys was quite long. So not only did we have to wait in line but we had to do it with all our luggage piled on us while we were dripping with sweat. Then when my roommate and I got our keys we discovered that the elevator we assumed was down the hall didn't exist. And our room was on the fourth floor. Most people would complain to the management after an experience like that but we didn't because we were on a mission trip. So we got a better hold on our luggage and said "mission trip" and lugged our things up to the fourth floor. Throughout the week we used that phrase "mission trip" as a way of saying "okay, let's do this". And it got me thinking - what if we did that all our lives? Instead of complaining and wishing things were different what if we just pulled up our boot straps and did what needed to be done? We would be lights to the world and we be happier at the same time.

Tuesday: We Need Fun As Much As We Need Work
I did not plan to enjoy the sightseeing part of this trip at all. When I am on a mission trip I want to work. But I truly enjoyed seeing the sights. Not just because it was fun to splash through the fountain although it was. Not just because it was cool to take pictures of ourselves in the Bean. Not just because it was awesome to buy Ferris Bueller merchandise in Chicago. And not just because it was epic to take a picture of myself staring down at the ground from the top of Willis Tower like Ferris and his friends do in the movie. It was because it was with people that I love dearly and I often forget I need fun even more than I need to work. Working is vital to our vitality but so is play. We remember this when it comes to animals and kids but forget that even when you grow older you still need time to relax and have fun too.

Wednesday: Listen to God's Promptings
That evening we went to Navy Pier. Now that was a very interesting experience but one thing that stuck out to me was the prayer walk. I am a big fan of prayer walks and my favorite parts of the past two trips were (you guessed it) the prayer walks. So at first I was pretty discouraged by our results. We had talked to several families but we only got to pray with one but even then it wasn’t a very long or touching conversation. We were getting to the end of the half hour the pastors had asked us to pray with people and the others in my group seemed to be getting antsy to do the “fun things at Navy Pier”. But I didn’t feel like God was done with us yet. So I asked for one more group hoping that God would intervene. We went to pray with another group – rejection. Still, I was unsatisfied but I had made a promise to my group members that I would finally shut up about praying for people for the evening. About twenty minutes later a couple asked me to take a few pictures of them so I did and as I did a light bulb went off – pray for them! So after I took some pretty awesome shots of them with the city in the background I jumped into the Zone of the Unknown. I started talking to them and found out they had just moved to Chicago from Egypt and were getting married in the fall. They said they needed all the help they could get and let us pray with them. That encounter with them stuck out to me. In fact a week after I returned from Chicago I started reading “Just Walk Across the Room” by Bill Hybels (you should definitely read it – I mean, I haven’t finished reading it yet but so far it is great and Bill is great so just trust me on this) and this one line stuck out to me as well. I think that encounter at Navy Pier and this line from the book go quite well together actually. (Are you mad I haven’t told you the line yet? Are you dying of suspense yet?) Either way, the line is “life’s greatest moments evolve from simple acts of cooperation with God’s mysterious promptings”. That is so profound to me because that moment was not one I will ever regret and it was led by a prompting from God. Come to think out nothing God has called me to do has ever been anything I regret in life. It’s only when I don’t listen to Him that I fail. I think Bill is right. Life is best when we let God in the driver’s seat. Now once you know the circumstances of this encounter it gets better. This moment would have never happened if we hadn’t lost my friend. She disappeared and the only reason we were there when that couple was is because we were making phone calls looking for her. It just goes to show that sometimes the greatest moments of your life can happen in the middle of mess and just when you are asking God where He is He is waiting to show you His presence.

Thursday: Love People
Thursday was the first of two days we did VBS. It was much different this year than previous years though because we were serving on the south side of Chicago. We consistently had to break up fights. We heard a kid (who shouldn't have even known what rape was) say that another boy was trying to rape him. We also heard a little girl tell us how her daddy threw her sister against a wall. We didn't have to be told about the gang wars and violence and poverty and constant shootings that happen in that neighborhood to understand what these kids were coming from. The kids told us and showed us what they were growing up in. Things like that break your heart. One of the girls from my small group told me going into the week that she was terrible with kids but by the end of our second day she was crying because she didn't want to leave them. She was experiencing the mission trip pain of not being able to stay. I know it because I've gone through it before. I hate trying to answer questions like "are you staying?" and "when are you coming back?" because there is no good answers to those questions. You can't lie to them and you can't tell them what they want to hear. Still, you want to say "yes, I'll always be here for you". You want to save them. But instead you are reminded how powerless you truly are. You can choose to do one of two things - you can either wallow in grief or you can just choose to love people as much as you can for as long as you can. There is a quote that is so accurate it's scary and it says you can't save people, just love them. No matter what we cannot truly save anyone, only Jesus can. We do, however, have the ability to love people and that is powerful all by itself. I think we should choose to love all our lives. Everyone we encounter will have their own struggles and they need to be loved. As much as we want to save them we can't. But no one can take away our ability to love people.

Friday: Choose To Thank God For the Good Rather Then Be Angry About the Bad
We left the Willis Tower around 4:45 in the afternoon. It was raining - not sprinkling, raining. And I had taken my poncho out of my purse that morning before we left. The bus did not pick us up for an hour. At first I had nothing but my purse which I over my head to shield myself from the rain. Thankfully, I have got connections. Just kidding, thankfully I have friends and one gave me his poncho. There are two ways to look at this situation - just as there are two ways to look at any situation. I could look at the bad and be upset. After a full week of work we were all tired and we wanted to get back to campus to relax. We didn't want to wait around especially in the rain when many of us did not have ponchos. Even those that did were still cold. One girl was visibly shivering. We could have said that was a terrible experience but I want to choose to see it differently. For one, when I looked at the weather before we left it said there was at least a 20% chance of rain. Two of the days were 50% or over. Yet not once did it rain when we were serving. That is incredible. And I was lucky enough to have a friend that offered me a poncho. And we could have been homeless people who just had to deal with it. Instead we were waiting for a Coach bus to take us to a private college where we were staying. You could look at everything in life through different lenses, You could look and see the bad or you could look and focus on the good. It is your choice but you will always be happier if you chose to see the good.

Saturday: Remember to Invest in People Because They Bring More Meaning to Life
Looking back it is interesting to think that people who I didn't know on Monday could became my friends by Saturday. People who you swear you have never even seen at your campus are now someone you've shared dance parties and unforgettable moments with on mission trips. That's just the way a mission trip is. It's a beautiful thing to see - it really is. This is the 4th time I have seen it happen - strangers become inseparable friends on a mission trip. When I think back to the early part of the week I am struck by the fact that people I didn't know made my days so much better simply by being there. Two girls in particular I spent a lot of time with. Before Monday I knew neither but now I consider them to be friends of mine. I also met a lot of other girls from my campus who I want to get to know better next year. In fact, it has inspired me to really try to meet new people at Revolution next year. As much as I love my friends from small group I want to invest in others - others who are new or just need a friend. Not only that but people I already knew become even more important to me. I experienced a lot of that this year. In fact, on Friday night during our debrief session we spent time breaking down our week into definable themes. Out of the six choices the category 'people' stuck out to me the most. It's not that people haven't been important in previous trips but for some reason they stuck out this year. I grew a lot closer to my small group leader and the three girls from my small group who accompanied me. I'd known two of the girls for nearly three years and the other for a year but this trip really bonded me to them even more. We have so many more adventures and memories we now share. We know more things about one another than we did before. We are simply closer and I am extremely thankful for that. I trust those three very much and am blessed to go through life with them.