Personal Stories | CBE International

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Personal Stories

Ellen Richard Vosburg
Editor’s Note: The following is an interview CBE International conducted with Kristen Padilla and Tara Beth Leach. Kristen and Tara were two of the organizers of the Day of Prayer for Women in Ministry, which took place on November 17, 2019. In the wake of this event, and with all the excitement it generated, we wanted to hear more from these tenacious church leaders and thought you might like to hear from them, too. Perhaps their example can help us as we all work together to support and encourage women in ministry. Kristen Padilla is a speaker, Bible teacher, wife, and mom, and she serves as the marketing and communications coordinator at Beeson Divinity School. She is the author of Now That I Am Called. Tara Beth Leach is the senior pastor of Pasadena First Church of the Nazarene... Read more
Holly Fletcher
Editor's Note: This is one of the Top 15 CBE Writing Contest winners. Enjoy! Here’s a hypothetical situation to consider: You and your spouse and family move to a new town. You find a church and decide to place membership there. A few years down the road, you learn you have a strong disagreement with the church’s position on women’s roles. Additionally, the church’s views on women’s roles are having a negative impact not only on you but also on your children—specifically your daughters. However, your spouse really likes this church, especially the senior minister’s preaching style. But you want to leave and find another church. Who decides whether you stay or go? During my growing up years, I spent many hours sitting in a church pew. In thos... Read more
Jenn Smith Chen
Editor's Note: This is one of the Top 15 CBE Writing Contest winners. Enjoy! The sun was high, burning and taunting its victims below. The air was so hot it suffocated each hopeful breath. I grew up in the central California heat and knew this was our way of life. Despite the unsavory conditions, my chance for freedom, for play, for a brief break in a long day in the life of a fourth grader would not be stolen by the relentless sun. As soon as our teacher, Ms. Roberts, dismissed us, one of my best friends, Jamie, and I ran out of the frigid, air-conditioned classroom and into the warm, melting light. We bounded towards a promising patch of grass—a patch with dandelions just waiting for us to turn these weeds into stunning jewelry. As we worked on making beautiful things for our... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of the Top 15 CBE Writing Contest winners. It was my first year of seminary. I looked over the worksheet our spiritual development professor had just handed out. “Place the amount of time you spend on each activity in the blank beside it.” Quickly, I scanned the listed activities. Sermon prep. Check. Studying. Check. Visitation. Well, I didn’t really do that. No check. I kept scanning, then slowly raised my hand. “Ah, where are the blanks for making dinner? Cleaning the house? Childcare?” Silence. “Shopping?” A couple clear—if immediately checked—snorts rose from the men in class. They had been busily filling out their forms. To ask that question had never occurred to them. Most clearly didn’t want... Read more
Constance Phelps
Editor's Note: This is one of the Top 15 CBE Writing Contest winners. [Domestic violence trigger warning] Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Cor. 13:4–7, NIV) There isn’t a better or more beautiful explanation of what I wanted to both give and receive in my marriage. I had spent my life aching, consciously and unconsciously, for the relationship that could follow this North Star of decency and dependability—note how “always” is repeated in the p... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of the Top 15 CBE Writing Contest winners. [Domestic violence and spiritual abuse trigger warning] “I want you to come into the church and have a meeting with me and the elders, so we can tell you God’s plan for your marriage,” said the pastor as we spoke on the phone. Did I hear him right? He was going to tell me God’s plan? God and I had already discussed it. I knew what I had to do. Let me go back. I suffered over eighteen years in a marriage to an abusive man. I had experienced every form of abuse there was: psychological, emotional, physical, sexual, and more. The abuse started even before we were married, but I didn’t recognize it for what it was. Constantly wanting to know where I was and who I was with was not... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of the Top 15 CBE Writing Contest winners. Enjoy! Standing in an old church with a red prayer book in my hands, the voices of the small number of worshippers seemed to magically fill the high, vaulted ceilings. I had recently moved and was visiting Episcopal churches searching for a good fit. Each week, I crossed my forehead, lips, and heart as the priest read the gospel in the middle of the sanctuary. Each week, I took communion with strangers who I recognized as spiritual siblings. And each week, we recited the Nicene Creed. ... We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son, she is worshiped and glorified. (emphasis added) I felt all the breath go out of my lungs and tear... Read more
When women come forward about abuse—sexual, religious, emotional, physical, financial, verbal, etc.—reactions often vary widely. Some people cheer on the survivors. Some people question why the victims didn’t come forward earlier. Some people worry that people have been falsely accused. Two years ago, I posted my own story of sexual and religious abuse on YouTube. Knowing that people often respond defensively, I worried: In telling my story, who would be impacted and how? What if telling my story caused harm instead of good? I wasn’t concerned about my abusers. But I agonized over how my truth could affect the lives of those close to my abusers, people I still care about. People who had something to lose. What if they were hurt? I thought about the wives of my ab... Read more
The #MeToo movement has successfully pulled back the curtain on hidden misogyny and rampant abuse of women in US culture. #ChurchToo has highlighted the sexism that’s just as alive in American pews and pulpits. Women from churches around the country have shared their stories of being abused, silenced, and sidelined. As I read these accounts, I sympathized deeply. I have my own #MeToo stories and #ChurchToo stories. Yet, I also have #MissionsToo stories and they have yet to be given space in these movements. The child of conservative missionaries, one of my first memories when we moved overseas was listening to the teary words of my mother's friend, a woman recently arrived from the United States. "He's my husband, and he believes that we should be overseas. My role is t... Read more
Editor's Note: This is one of our Top 20 winners from the 2018 CBE Writing Contest. Enjoy! I was seven years old—sitting in a hard, metal desk, staring at the hole-y paddle hanging ominously on the wall, and wearing a skirt that reached three inches from my knee—when my teacher told us God didn’t want women to be pastors. Shocked, I thought, “How can this be? Why does God like boys more than girls?” I went home that day and cried to my mom that I wanted to be a boy. I was in fifth grade, standing with my parents in the church parking lot and staring at the black asphalt beneath my feet as I listened to a grown woman weep. Her ministry had been shut down by church leadership, she told my parents. The elders had determined that even though her minis... Read more

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