Women in Ministry

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By on August 21, 2017   /   Leave a comment

I recently read an article No One Wants to Bag Leaves Alone: The Vital Role Wives Play in Support Raising and absolutely loved it! The sacrificial and vital role of wives in the adventure of MPD (support raising) is part of the blessed teamwork of marriage. I cheer on the valiant hard work of those wives across the world!

Listen ladies, the world is better because of you and wouldn’t be the same without you. The aforementioned article is a definite must-read for all wives whose husbands are the primary support raisers. I would, however, like to draw attention to another vital, though sometimes forgotten group of people: Wives, who do full-time MPD, of husbands who are in the marketplace, are stay-at-home dads, or are in graduate school, etc. Also, women missionaries who might become those wives.

Sure, I know it’s rare, but I’d like to start this conversation. Some missions organizations are finding that more women than men are entering the missions field so it’s quite possible that as single Christian women who are in ministry find spouses, not each and every one of those Christian men will be called into vocational ministry. I’m not the best at math, but I think those statements add up. Sure, it’s the story most of us see at our respective missions organization’s leadership conferences, but I wonder if that’s because many women don’t realize they can continue in ministry if their husband is, say, a teacher. So, I’m venturing to begin a tiny path into what is a huge unexplored forest, that is women missionaries.

I am passionate about this because that is my story. I met my husband in a campus ministry. We were just two students whose hearts were won by Jesus and His love for the lost—and there are a lot of lost on college campuses. So, it wasn’t a surprise when we both went to a campus ministry training school to be trained as campus missionaries.

My husband (then boyfriend) interned with the missions organization through college, and then after graduating from undergrad felt God leading him towards continuing in his clinical doctorate for physical therapy. I had been a full-time campus missionary for one year when we got married.

After the wedding, along with our new roles as husband and wife, I continued in my calling as a campus missionary and he continued to do what God had called him to do with graduate school. We knew this wasn’t what we typically saw happening around us, but we also knew we were both doing what God had called us to do, both as a married couple and with our careers.

It’s been scary for me at times. I’ve faced a lot of tough questions. If my husband is in a full-time, year-round, three-year doctorate program and I’m on full-time MPD, what happens if I get pregnant? Will we suddenly be without any income if I have a child and don’t have a way to pay for childcare? Can we step out in faith and buy a house in our current situation? What happens if we raise partnership, buy a house, and then partnership drops off?

All of the scary questions imaginable, I’ve thought them. Cried over them. Felt dread and fear paralyze me over the “what if?” scenarios. I realized there weren’t a lot of people who could fully help me answer my questions. At the time, I didn’t personally know another married woman missionary whose husband wasn’t also in vocational ministry. I had to fight a lot of lies. Can a woman carry that kind of responsibility for her family? Will people think we have things backwards? How was I, this 23-year-old woman, going to raise partnership for a family and maintain it?

I’ve been married three years today as I write this. I’ve been living on partnership for five years. God has been so faithful. He has led us so beautifully down this unique path; it truly is as if God is carving each step just for us, planting flowers and uprooting weeds along the way.

Can I tell you something? I’ve won the jackpot with my God-loving, God-fearing, children’s church serving, disciple-making husband who is not in vocational ministry. My husband has been my biggest supporter; the one who challenges me to go the extra mile and encourages me when things feel terribly difficult both in ministry and partnership development. He sacrifices in the midst of his busy schedule to work on Partnership Development with me whenever he gets the chance. He calls partners while he’s driving to and from work to catch up or pray for them. He is honestly amazing and it truly has been a team effort. I don’t ever want to do this without him.

Sometimes, though, it does require that I physically can’t have him with me. On summer MPD trips when he has school full-time, work engagements, etc., I have to hit the road without him. Sometimes for work conferences I go solo, and although I want more than anything for him to be there with me, it’s a great time to hang with my single friends/campus missionaries. It’s so easy to fall into the temptation to compare myself to other ministry couples. But more than anything I have to go back to what God has called US to, not others to.

Everyone’s situation looks different and ministry isn’t cookie cutter. God has faithfully provided for us and given me the grace to raise partnership for our family to do ministry and live well. I expect that there will be many more young women like me, who want to know what ministry looks like in the days to come, maybe seasons where life looks a little different with marriage, kids, etc. Although, you can say I’ve been the “breadwinner” during the past three years of our marriage as he works on his doctorate (and part-time jobs), he will graduate soon and have a full-time job. While that will lessen the need for me to raise partnership, at the end of the day you never know what God is going to call you to do.

So, for all of you young women out there, I just want to tell you: God is able. He is able to provide every single thing you need for your unique ministry assignment and your ministry assignment needs. Don’t be discouraged if your situation looks different from others. It can be done. And it will be an awesome adventure! I’m sure you’ve heard it many times before, but what God has called you to, He will provide for. In EVERY season. Don’t give up on your God-given dreams because it seems like there are more obstacles for you or that your situation is different from others! You’ve got this and God has you!

I’m blessed to be among a generation of trailblazers who are making paths through a very deep and unknown forest. Ladies, every “yes” you give to God will be your best “yes” yet. Keep stepping out in obedience as you blaze the trail for more women missionaries behind you.

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