CBE staff, members, and friends reported powerful experiences and transforming fellowship after returning from the “Side by Side” international symposium held at the South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS) in Bangalore, India on Feb. 15–18.
The resilience of children is truly amazing. This strength in spite of suffering was again demonstrated to me in a workshop at the Side by Side symposium in Bangalore, India. The story of the struggles of Devadasi children unfolded in a drama entitled “Seeds of Hope.”
“Do not be afraid” appears more than any other phrase in Scripture. Certainly it’s a helpful phrase if one were encountering a warrior-angel. But biblical writers use it more frequently in situations where people are being asked to step beyond who they think they are into greater realms of trust and leadership.
Sometimes we don’t fully understand the power and impact of a role model, nor do we fully appreciate those who have gone before, cleared the path and then lit the way for us to follow. Sometimes.
Yet for those of us whose journey toward understanding and embracing biblical equality has been a winding path full of pain and epiphanies, the immense value of our role models is deeply felt. Sometimes this value is felt so deeply that it may even take us by surprise — a surprise of joy, when through the window of God’s grace, we get a glimpse of just how powerful the impact of these role models has been.
First, I’m a man. I have a hairy chest. I used to be on the football team. I like Bruce Willis movies — at least, the ones in which something blows up, which is most of them. And barbecue is among my favorite cuisines. (Although, please don’t tell the guys on the football team that I used a word like “cuisines.”)
"Partners," as the term is used in this statement, means more than aides or helpers who give assistance from the sidelines. The emphasis is communion, a unity of purpose that links hands and hearts as full members of the team. It stresses full participation, sharing in both the risks and the benefits of the enterprise: "giving and receiving" (Philippians 4:15). It portrays an enduring alliance as long-term colleagues rather than a casual short walk together. Each partner has a voice and a valued judgment in the conduct of the enterprise, with full powers and discretion in leadership decisions. The legal requirements and constraints of a business partnership are not included here; therefore the notions often attached to "silent partner" and "limited partner" are not appropriate here. Covenant rather than contract is the relation that is envisioned.
It is interesting to see how many times the word “all” occurs in the opening verses of the book of Acts. After identifying those who were included in the early followers of Jesus in the first chapter of Acts, we read in verse 14, “They all joined together constantly in prayer.” Worship was no longer something only for the older men; now it is for all. They all gathered together in that prayer time. Chapter 2:1 tells us that, “When the day of Pentecost came they were all together in one place.” The fellowship included all who would let themselves be a part of it. Chapter 2:4 announces, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Savior enabled them.” Ministry included all of them: men and women, young and old, rich or poor. All were filled with the Holy Spirit.
In the evangelical world, we stress the importance o f context for understanding Scripture rightly. We warn against “taking a verse out of context,” because the meaning of a verse is shaped or influenced by the paragraph or chapter in which it appears. Context may not be everything in interpretation, but the literary context is undeniably important for interpreting a passage faithfully.
Those of us who defend women in ministry are used to making careful biblical and theological cases, wrestling with the difficult texts as well as the occasional difficult person. We are used to listening earnestly to people who argue against women in ministry with furrowed brows and trembling chins. We aspire to be thoughtful, reasoned, and respectful because, Lord knows, we don’t want to make things any harder for women in ministry. Secretly most of us, I suspect, are sick of this circumspection and caution. For even with all our care we are frequently accused of “cramming women in ministry down our throats.”