Flashback to Cleveland, Tennessee, 1981: I became aware of a small Pentecostal Bible institute and church I wanted to visit. One Friday evening during a weekend seminar, I slipped into the back pew, as the special guests were already fully engaged. He spoke, then she spoke, then he spoke, then she spoke…so on and so forth. Wait a minute, I thought, they’re not simply testifying, and she’s not going to sit down while he ministers the word. They’re preaching in tandem, a finely choreographed presentation of God’s word that I had never witnessed before nor any time since.
The man’s wife didn’t sit down after her few words of greeting, an action typical among evangelicals and Pentecostals. She was speaking as one having authority, just as he was. After they finished, the pastor thanked Brother T.L. Osborn, and his wife, Sister Daisy, for preaching. I was astonished. Rumor had it that T.L. had fallen into darkness, “backslidden.” Not true. In fact, something more dramatic had occurred, Daisy and her husband T.L. had become “egalitarians,” full partners in marriage and ministry. The marriage aspect became evident to me many years later, after I discovered God’s Word to Women, at home on a bookshelf. I first saw the book on my wife’s desk in her church office. It was given to her by our senior associate pastor (the senior pastor’s wife), who received it from her good friend during a local women’s conference. This good friend was none other than Daisy Osborn.
Now the book was in my possession. That was in 1989. After studying the book for nearly three years (not an “easy read”), working through it and discussing difficult passages with my wife, I became convinced that this was indeed a revelation to us from God. I developed a 5-week, hour and a half seminar presentation of my discoveries for our church in 1992. The seminar was received with mixed emotions and reviews. In addition, that summer my wife and I enrolled in a two-week intensive course at Fuller Seminary, taught by Dr. David Scholer titled, “Women and Ministry in the New Testament.” The revelations and learnings from that course forever transformed and changed the spiritual and practical trajectory of our lives.
At the writing of this article, I am engaged in teaching a course at a small Bible college titled, “Women in Ministry in the New Testament,” where Katherine Bushnell’s book alongside more recent biblical and theological scholarship, and T.L. and Daisy Osborn’s life, are being held in highest esteem by this grateful soul. Particular to my church context, women can preach, teach, and hold most leadership positions. However, there is still the belief that husbands are to be the “priests” of their homes regardless if women hold leadership positions in the church. Progress is being made although there is still work to be done.