Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see
Thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I
behold Thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed
that the contrite spirit is the
that the repenting soul is the
that to have nothing is to possess
that to bear the cross is to wear
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest
and the deeper the wells the
brighter Thy stars shine;
Let me find Thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin,
Thy riches in my poverty,
Thy glory in my valley.
From Valley of Vision
In this post, I am not expressing my view on the role of
women in ministry. I say this in an attempt to head off wrong conclusions. My
desire here is simply to present some cultural observations from several
African settings which lead me to argue that a strong part of our missionary
endeavor should be to actively encourage and support women to pursue
theological education. It will impact society and help preserve the purity of
the gospel in the life of the African church.
are the main teachers for children and young people in African families. Paul’s
statement to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:5, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a
faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now,
I am sure, dwells in you as well” may be seen as odd in the West, but it comes
across as normal to me (and I am sure to many African men and women). The early
stages of a child in the village are spent with his or her mother. This is true
even in families where the parents are educated. Until the age of about 12, in
most family settings, the child has spent most of life with the mother. These
are formative years and the faith of the mother will have a direct impact on
the spiritual formation of the child. Not only in the home, but in church,
women are often the ones left with the task to minister to children. When we
encourage women to get theological training, and they in turn invest in
teaching women in the church all that Jesus commanded, future mothers will have
much to give to their children in nurturing their faith from very early on.
But, why must only women teach women in this case? Read on.
often miss out on opportunities to learn in the local church. A typical village
church and even city churches are filled with mostly women. During meetings and
teaching events, when food needs to be prepared and work done, often it is the
women who are called on to do it. How many conferences I have gone to where
teaching is going on, and the women are in the kitchens cooking. Then during
break, they serve everyone else and as the teachings resume, they are occupied
cleaning up. In other instances, most of what women get from their pastors are
his sermons on Sundays and any little teaching that may take place during the
Christian meetings once a week. Pastors miss out on opportunities to speak
directly to women on issues that are important to them. For example, what does
it mean to be a wife or a single mother in the church or a civil servant? Most
are left to figure out for themselves what role there is to serve in the
church. Without intending to do so, a lot of pastors end up not providing the
kind of teaching that women need. Yet, women are the ones who are better
organized, attend meetings, run social groups in the church, and show interest
in the things of the gospel. Given this gap in the teaching of women in the
local church by men, it can be taken up by women who are theologically trained.
They can get to the heart of the issues facing women, helping them to
understand those issues biblically. The majority of people in the African
church are women. Taking up such a ministry is not a light task. The advantage
to educating women that they will not only live lives that are better
informed by Scripture, but they will also take the message to the women’s
groups in their towns and villages. They will teach it to their children and
help them to develop a strong faith from early on. In some cases, they will
help their extended families to know more about who God is and why it is
important to be loyal to him in all of life.
cannot effectively fight for themselves. Every year I would ask my new classes
(men and women), “Are women equal to men?” You can guess who answered first and
what they said. The men answered first and obviously, said that men are better
and cannot be equal with women. When asked, is that a cultural or biblical
answer, culture wins. You would expect the women in the class to fight but they
stayed quiet. Is it because they do not have an opinion on the issue? Not
really, but they do not have a biblical argument to make in their own defense,
and culturally they are reluctant to disagree with the men.
In addition to the above reasons, there are proof text
biblical passages that pastors use to argue that women should not be educated
and should not have a role to play in the church. This, too, is wrong. What are
some of these passages? Next post!
A sermon that lays out the reason for why TLI exists.
Some interesting statistics from chapter 1 of Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It)
- Africa has recieved $1 trillion in benevolent aid in the last 50 year and per-capita income is now lower, life expectancy has stagnated and adult literacy is lower.
- 85% of aid money flowing to African countries never reaches the targeted areas of need.
- U.S. missions teams who rushed to Honduras to help rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Mitch spent on average $30K per home - homes locals could have built for $3K each.
- The money spent by one campus ministry to cover the costs of their Central American mission trip to repaint an orphanage would have been enough to hire two local painters and two new full-time teachers and purchase new uniforms for every student in the school.