We had our first ever ’20schemes Women’s Training Day’ on Tuesday. It’s something that has always been intended but seemed an impossibility to make a reality; to bring all the busy wives and women in ministry, (many of whom are mothers), to one location during the day for teaching, fellowship and lunch. But it is happening and successfully so far!
The 11am-2pm day was laid out simply: devotions, teaching session then lunch. For devotions each of us will take a turn at leading on one of the ‘Fruit of the Spirit’ (Galatians 5) and the teaching, which is topical on themes such as abuse, money or parenting, will be led by Miriam or Sharon. We will rotate monthly around the different church plant locations which is great as many of us haven’t been able to visit them all so far.[bctt tweet=”Daily abiding in Christ is difficult as a busy mum (Cara Bell) #women #gospel”]Led by Miriam, week 1’s teaching was about relationships, and what the Bible says about them in regards to God, family and others. A big theme was ‘Abiding in Him’, reminding us that He is the vine and we are the branches, as she taught from John 15. In order to be effective we must stay connected. Daily abiding in Christ is difficult as a busy mum and I feel the constant temptation to try and be self-sufficient, as I naturally turn to my own resources in order to get through life; but this is a futile and short-lived solution. It is not only futile, but sinful as verse 6 describes dead branches as useless and destined to be destroyed. Only with regular accountability and being part of a living body of believers will I succeed in rooting myself deeply in Christ.
Miriam also covered the often misunderstood command of submission for women; that we are equal to men but have different roles. The life of humble submission is a high calling for a woman, and Jesus is our ultimate example. Jesus became an average looking human (Isaiah 53:3), lived alongside normal people doing normal things for 30 years, whilst being perfectly God, yet never demanded earthly glory because He knew His glory was not the kind we look for, but the awesome, heavenly kind we can’t get our heads around. He then suffered a criminal’s death and bore the wrath of God for us. We are so often glory-seekers of the world, finding security in our own sense of usefulness or in the admiration of others. [bctt tweet=”The life of humble submission is a high calling for a woman! (Cara Bell) #women #gospel”]Loving God, our families and others can be hard, especially when the ‘other’ is unlovable, but we were reminded that this is not optional, it is a command and the fruit of our own living faith in Christ.
Miriam also taught that in our relationships with others, hatred and unforgiveness nullifies our own faith. Not easy commands to swallow, but true and helpful in our contexts especially. She spoke about the way we often gravitate to people who are similar to us and avoid those who ‘grain us’, saying, “I tried getting along with them but I just couldn’t.” This is a sinful attitude that flies in the face of the grace we received from God in Christ. We are loathsomely selfish and ugly compared to the glory of God yet Romans 5:8 says, “…While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” How can we then turn to our neighbour and say they are a lost cause and we cannot be near them let alone love them?
So what’s the point in doing this monthly women’s training event? Off the record, I think we need a better name, like Humble Heroines or something equally sarcastic. My first (cynical) thought whenever I’m invited to a women’s event is that it will be tame, touchy-feely, with unchallenging teaching and lots of small talk, tea and cake. I’m not sure where exactly I get this idea from but this is not the case with Humble Heroines (OK, maybe not), although I do love cake. We are not just meeting as women for the sake of it, like some girl-power/feminist support group. We are meeting for essential times of encouragement and relevant teaching on the very things we wrestle with on a daily basis, being trained for heavy, yet privileged work.
Like myself, many of us are co-pilots with our husbands as we plant churches and the role is not just exhausting but also fraught with danger as there is no prescribed distinction between home and work life; however, that is the nature of planting. With God’s Spirit leading, we need to make sure we are fulfilling our God-given roles as wives, mothers then co-planters. To avoid neglecting or overdoing these roles means regular accountability and encouragement through scriptural teaching and fellowship. [bctt tweet=”…not just meeting for the sake of it, like some girl-power/feminist support group. (Cara Bell)”]Without practical boundaries and time management strategies a planter’s wife can emotionally and spiritually crash and burn and eventually nothing is being done well, at home or out-with. According to Hoover in The Church Planting Wife, “Without dependence [on God], we start going through the motions and playing the role.” This kind of divorce of heart and actions is what we want to avoid as Christians. We can’t simply act like church planters and expect it all to work out. We must be rooted in the True Vine as Miriam taught us, in order to be fruitful.
I am excited about the prospect of regularly catching up and learning with these wonderful women of God who are becoming dear friends, I hope for life, and being able to mutually spur one another on to run the race with joy, perseverance and with eyes fixed on Jesus. I love that we are all together in this and that there is no competition, sense of jealousy or pride in our work because it is all from Him, to Him and for Him.
Please pray for us as we meet that God would fill us, bind us, teach us, protect us and bless our respective ministries for His glory and for the furthering of His Kingdom.