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It has taken some 3000 years since the time of Deborah, and over 400 years since John Knox, but in the latter part of this century most of us have realized this truth. If God raises up women as leaders, in the military, in secular politics, or in the Church, who are we to take up the trumpet against them?

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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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"For the husband is the head of the wife, is that not what the Bible says?" my friend asked in all earnestness.

"No," I replied, "that is not what the Bible says. Paul says that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. How is Christ the head of the church?"

"I guess," he responded, "he is the Holy Spirit."

On the way home from church, my preoccupation with our conversation puzzled me. Why is it, I thought, that someone like my friend had spent so much time serving as pastor and yet had not grasped this basic truth of which Paul spoke? A lifetime of sermons and I had rarely, if ever, heard about how Christ is the head of the church. The essential exposition is not the husband as head of the wife. The critical question is, "How is Christ the head of the church?"

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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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What is the difference between a leader and other workers? If you wait until someone asks for your help, you are a follower, not a leader. But if you recognize a need and then pitch in to make a difference, you have taken your first step in leadership.

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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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The spread of AIDS in Africa is related to a low view of women, an opinion confirmed in a Wall Street Journal article published on July 9, 2002... the article stated that the spread of HIV is related to “the emotionally charged, culturally entrenched ways that men and women interact sexually.”

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