Personal Stories | CBE International

You are here

Personal Stories

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
Editor's Note: This is one of our Top 20 winners from the 2018 CBE Writing Contest. Enjoy! In May of 2018, John Piper responded to a young woman struggling with persistent, unrelenting body hatred. In his article, he suggested that there’s a good form of body hatred because the body is the site of sin. His response quickly went viral, and many took issue with Piper’s authority to write on the topic of body hatred and mental illness in general, and in particular, with the statement that there is a right and biblical way to hate your body. Most women don’t need even the slightest encouragement to hate their bodies. We live in a culture that teaches us to do this. We starve, shave, pluck, pierce, and adorn our bodies to gain social acceptance, and we bond sociall... Read more
For most of my life, I didn’t attend a church that affirmed women in ministry. In fact, most of the churches I grew up in held the opposite view. They took the issue very seriously too. One Wednesday night when I was in maybe sixth grade, the male teacher for the boys’ class was absent. The female teacher for the girls’ class refused to allow the junior high boys to join us. Why? Women weren’t allowed to teach males once they graduated from elementary school. The same teacher encouraged us to aspire to become elders’ wives when we grew up. We were never encouraged to focus on our own gifts for ministry. We were not encouraged to serve the kingdom as writers, singers, missionaries, or worship ministers, and certainly not as preachers. I never saw a woman teac... Read more
Eeva Sallinen Simard
I grew up in Finland—one of the most egalitarian societies in the world. Though no culture is perfect, Finland continuously tops UN and World Bank rankings for best place in the world to be a mother and woman, and is also home to some of the happiest people in the world. The World Economic Forum named Finland the third most gender-equal country in the world in 2017. As a young person, it seemed that my generation had moved beyond the issue of patriarchy. Due to the work of my grandmother’s generation and many generations before her, gender equality and egalitarianism were well-established cultural values in secular Finnish society.   Historically, the Finnish nation-building project didn’t start out with a feminist ethos. It was birthed by a small, northern people... Read more
This submission is one of our top ten CBE Writing Contest winners. Enjoy! It was a typical summer weekend service at our local church. I was perusing the bulletin announcements about our son’s upcoming youth group trip that included a water park excursion. Amidst the details for the trip was the following blurb instructing students what to bring: “Bring: Sleeping bag, pillow, toiletries, change of clothes (dress for the weather), swimsuit (girls one-piece or tankini please), towel and $$ for two fast food dinners.” I was immediately uncomfortable with the assumptions behind the swimming suit instructions; the question became what was I going to do about it? A a busy mom of four boys ages 7-12, it took me a couple weeks to carve out time to sit down, pray through i... Read more
Bronwen Speedie
The Australian church and media have hotly debated domestic and family violence (DFV) in Christian homes since journalists Julia Baird and Hayley Gleeson published this controversial report: "'Submit to your husbands': Women told to endure domestic violence in the name of God."  Responses from Christians and church groups have been varied. Some have welcomed the report and subsequent coverage as a catalyst for developing awareness of abuse and creating change, and others have denied the truth of the report or tried to distract from the central issue by arguing over finer details. On August 9, 2017, an Australian Christian women’s online community, Fixing Her Eyes, published several true stories of DFV experienced by Christia... Read more
Recently, a friend asked me an unexpected question. “Do you identify first as a Christian or as a feminist?” I was surprised by but not unprepared for her question. I’d considered it before, and the answer is complicated. Stick with me here. Many Christians believe that Christianity and feminism are incompatible. But this assumption is drawn from biased definitions of both feminism and Christianity. Some Christians have an extremely negative perception of feminism. Feminism conjures up images of angry, man-hating, bra-burning women fighting for unnecessary ends. After all, they argue, what more do women need when they can work outside the home and vote? They believe that women are already equal, but need to accept their different roles. With this skewed definition of f... Read more

Pages