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Personal Stories

"Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task" (1 Timothy 3:1 NIV). When I think back to my first sense of God calling me to vocational ministry, I am continually amazed at how awesome it was. I had first chosen to follow Christ while in middle school, but it wasn't until I was finishing up my junior year of high school that I truly felt I was being called to ministry. I was set on majoring in graphic design when I got to college, but as I was talking with a friend who was about to graduate, he told me about his own call from God to be a pastor. Suddenly, I felt the Holy Spirit burst onto the scene, pulling me in that same direction. I literally could not get that conversation out of my head for the next several days! Over and over,... Read more
This month marks the 31st anniversary of my ordination. I have spent about 28 of those years serving congregations as a pastor. As October rolls around, officially "Pastor Appreciation Month," I'd like to share my perspective on how you might appreciate your own pastor. Recently, a younger pastor, also a woman, wrote to me:   "I find being a pastor an incredibly awesome and wonderful calling. In what other job can I study God's word, proclaim the gospel, pray, reach out to the hurting--and get paid for it? I feel blessed and privileged to be able to serve in such a position."  I feel encouraged just by reading those words--that being female has not been an impediment to the vocation this woman has received. When I was ordained in 1983, I wa... Read more
As I reflect on my call to ministry, I am so grateful to those women who have gone before me, who courageously and faithfully fulfilled their own vocation by seeking after Christ. In doing so, they touched my life and helped me understand that I, too, could join the growing movement of women who are called to serve. First, there was Roberta Hestenes. It was the spring of 1984, and I, along with about fifteen other college graduates from our church, decided to attend our all-church conference at Mt. Hermon Conference Center in Felton, CA. Until this point, I had never heard a woman preach or address a congregation. My curiosity was piqued. I listened with rapt attention to Roberta as she delivered four compelling, articulate, and convicting messages over the course of a weekend. ... Read more
Sometimes I worry that since I haven’t dated yet I’m missing out on companionship and adventure. What it would be like to date someone? To avoid feeling this way, I create grateful hypotheticals: If I’d dated during college, I wouldn’t have had time to invest freely and deeply in as many friendships. Singleness gives me a different kind of relational satisfaction. If I’d been engaged after graduation, I couldn’t have moved to Kenya at a few months’ notice for my dream job. If I was married, I couldn’t have travelled to Ethiopia recently on less than a week’s notice. Singleness frees me to go wherever God calls me (1 Cor. 7:34). While I’ve had embarrassing moments and regrets, I’ve never gone through a breakup. Ma... Read more
Single parents constitute a fair portion of the global population at this point, an overwhelming majority of whom are women. In the US there is a steady increase in the percentage of mothers who raise their children alone and the odds are certainly not stacked in their favor. I have scoured the statistical websites that document in detail the social circumstances and societal assistance, or general lack thereof, which surround the lives of single mothers. While I do not wish to reproduce these findings here I do encourage anyone to take a good look at the observations, they certainly are revealing. I suppose my question is, how much support do we in our Christian communities actually offer to single mothers in need? How many churches have a ‘single mothers ministry’? Are we doi... Read more
I was a young child in the 1960's--a time when women were making small steps toward equality.  Even so, in the small Midwestern town where I lived, family and church structures were still fairly traditional. It was assumed that men would be the leaders in the family, the church, and the community. Women were often the followers. They typically cared for the home and children, making it possible for their husbands to take on those positions of leadership. This was seen as the best model for leadership in Christian families and in churches. As a young adult, I found that others in the Christian community saw it differently.  As I listened to their interpretation of Scripture, I began to reexamine my own beliefs and revised them to take into account the social context of pass... Read more
“Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me; O LORD, be my helper. You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever” (Psalm 30: 10-12). If there was ever an embodiment of these verses, it is in the lives touched by Channels of Hope for Gender in rural Durham. From middle-school children dramatizing the importance of HIV awareness, to children mesmerized by a math teacher, to Sunday School teachers, youth and pastors who have welcomed the liberating message in Scripture, one that free males and females from bondage—newness of life danced before us these past few days. Yet, the deepest transformation seemed to... Read more
Don’t be afraid to be big, women. That’s what I learned at a conference this weekend. Women are taught to be small. Tomorrow, pay attention to how women walk, sit and stand compared to men. You’ll notice women take smaller steps with their hands closer to their sides, cross their legs, fold their hands in their laps. Men are more likely to swing their arms when they walk, stretch out their legs, drape their arm over the seat next to them. And of course, mainstream American media portrays thin women as the ideal. We women aren’t supposed to take up space with our bodies. We’re not supposed to draw attention to ourselves in other ways, either. American girls’ achievement, particularly in math and science, starts dropping off in middle school. They... Read more
Father’s Day is a great opportunity to thank the men around us for the job they have done raising us. My experience is no different. My father has been a great influence in my life, and as I grow older into a strong woman who fights the hold of patriarchy, I cannot help but think he has been influential in this. Even before I was born, it seemed that he knew the struggle for equality that I would have to go through. With his international perspective on the struggle women face, he equipped me with the biggest tool to survive this battle and named me Florkime: a traditional name from northern Liberia, his homeland. My name Florkime in the simplest terms means perseverance and to keep trying. He has constantly reminded me that my academic efforts are valued and my personal s... Read more
I sat in the back row of the church and quietly observed. The brave woman who had invited me to the event had taught me tremendous truths about biblical sexuality in my postgraduate course and now she was releasing her very own set of booklets for toddlers, teenagers, and parents. She has such a profound call on her life to teach true biblical sexuality to the world, especially to Africa, so I was excited to be among her honored guests. Unbeknownst to me at the offset, the night would take a dramatic turn, much to my horror. While the brave woman stood sharing her vision, her words were not yet cold when a young man jumped up and grabbed the microphone, he began bombastically telling the audience that he was this woman's (who was three times his age) spiritual father and that unl... Read more