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As women we should be encouraged. We may be soft on the outside, but we’re strong and mighty in spirit. We are God’s secret weapons and the enemy knows it. He takes us seriously, even when others don’t. The enemy’s strategy has been to keep us quiet and in hiding. But God is doing an end run. He is going to release so many of us at once that the enemy is not going to know what hit him!

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As a male, I recently had an experience that involved gender stereotyping, from which I learned a lot. For one thing, I learned a bit about how my sisters have so often felt. There was a meeting in a major Southern city to plan for a large women’s conference. There were 62 women in the meeting, and I was the only male!

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I’ve been drawn to a powerful but obscure story nestled in the Hebrew Bible. I’ve come to see the story as a metaphor for the struggle we all face in seeking to incarnate God’s way of justice and peace in our unique situations. In 2 Kings 4:8–37, we find the tale of an unnamed woman identified only as “the Shunammite” who makes in her home a room for the prophet Elisha.

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Quick Bible quiz: Name one African person in the Bible. Did you mention Hagar, Simon of Cyrene or Apollos of Alexandria? What about the Ethiopian eunuch, or Queen Candace? If none of these characters came to mind, perhaps it’s due to a lack of understanding of the cultural and ethnic forces at work in the Bible. Understanding these forces can bring new light to familiar passages.

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To be white and middle class in America is to be a participant in a privileged power structure. Often unknowingly, we lay poverty and discrimination at the door of communities of color. The challenge to white middle-class people who follow Jesus is to begin to notice the cries of pain from these communities.

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I’ve identified 10 erroneous views about women that have been circulated in the church, preached from pulpits and written in the study notes of popular Bible translations for too long. I believe we must debunk these lies if we want to see the church released to fulfill the Great Commission.

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Some denominations in the United States are still arguing about whether a woman can stand behind a pulpit, I said to myself. Meanwhile, women in China are engaging in dangerous missions and governing thousands of new churches. There’s something wrong with this picture!

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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.

 

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The tragedy in the Christian community is that our pattern of limiting up-front communication to men while women labor in relative silence and subordination behind the scenes has obscured the fact that together women and men are a community of priests.

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Look what God is doing in the lives of women and men partnering together to bring the whole gospel to the whole world! These portraits of Chinese, Nigerian and Indian women in ministry are excerpts from papers given at the Lausanne Conference for World Evangelism.

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