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That was my introduction to the commune. God was indeed working there at that time, and he sent me there to learn. There were many wonderful things I learned with that group: how to pray, how to worship, how to study the Bible and how to yield to the Holy Spirit.

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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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QUESTION: I have no problem with Galatians 3:28 or with equality concerning salvation and spiritual gifts. I do have a problem with headship. Can you please tell me where any of the writers of the New Testament gave women the OK to be in authority over men?

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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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Question: In 1 Timothy, the Apostle Paul says women are not to usurp the authority of men in spiritual matters. Doesn’t CBE’s view of women in ministry twist what the Bible says?

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History teaches us that failure to recognize and empathize with suffering is dangerous physically and spiritually. I wonder if something similar has happened in the body of Christ. Part of the body is hurting, but needed change is not being made.

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The reality is overwhelming: women are suffering appalling abuses and tragic deaths around the world. But we don’t want to avoid this truth because it’s uncomfortable; noticing and identifying with this pain is important for Christians.

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As with the stories of many other biblical women and churchwomen throughout the centuries, in Hagar we can glimpse some of the gifts that women offer to the church and to the world.

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It reads like a tragic novel: Nearly two-thirds of the world’s 876 million illiterate adults are women. Approximately 6,000 girls are subjected to female genital mutilation each day, and 30% of girls subjected to its most radical form die from the effects. Four million women are sold each year as slaves. In sub-Saharan Africa, 55% of HIV-infected adults are women, and teenage girls are five times more likely to be infected than boys. 

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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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