I once heard a male friend of our family exclaim, “Women! Can’t live with them, can’t live without them!” I smiled at his frustration but understood what he was saying; my husband sometimes says the same thing. But having women in the church who are committed to the mission of the church is something I’m sure we can all live with. God has seen fit to allow our church to have more women than men in church membership, and this is a good thing. Why? Women who have dedicated their lives to God and to the mission of the church, who go and tell the world about Jesus, are a blessing to every pastor and church leader.
In 1996, when I became the Women’s Ministries leader for my home union (Caribbean Union Conference, located on the island of Trinidad and Tobago), I was not sure how this department would function in the church. Our union had never had a Women’s Ministries department before, so I knew that the only way to see how this department worked would be to use my husband’s church district as my testing ground. My husband Joe was very open to this. We tested our ideas in one of the local churches where we worshipped and worked, and I discovered that women could support the work of church pastors, elders, and other leaders in many ways:
1. Women are called to serve in the communities.
2. Women can assist with visitation of members.
3. Women are natural caregivers and caretakers.
4. Women have hearts that respond to others in need.
5. Women believe in the power of prayer.
How do I know this? Let me share with you a few excerpts from page 463 of the book Evangelism, a compilation of quotes by Ellen G. White. These words have given me a vision and purpose for my sisters around the world.
“The Lord has a work for women as well as for men. They may take their places in His work at this crisis, and He will work through them. If they are imbued with a sense of their duty, and labor under the influence of the Holy Spirit, they will have just the self-possession required for this time. The Savior will reflect upon these self-sacrificing women the light of His countenance, and will give them a power that exceeds that of men. They can do in families a work that men cannot do, a work that reaches the inner life. They can come close to the hearts of those whom men cannot reach. Their labor is needed” (Review and Herald, Aug. 26, 1902).
“In the various lines of home missionary work, the modest, intelligent woman may use her powers to the very highest account. Who can have so deep a love for the souls of men and women for whom Christ has died as those who are partakers of His grace? Who can represent the truth and the example of Christ better than Christian women who themselves are practicing the truth?” (Review and Herald, Dec. 10, 1914).
What words of encouragement, not only for my sisters, but for all leaders in the church! The work is too great for any one person or group to complete. God understands this, and He has provided the leaders of His church with an army of talented, spirit-filled, self-sacrificing women to help complete this work. Women are supremely well-qualified to serve in many endeavors of the church. For example, they are capable of nurturing our sisters in the church and the community. They can empower our sisters to become stronger women of God in the areas of Bible study, prayer, and personal growth. They can conduct outreach to those in the community who are desperate for a touch from Jesus.
I am not sure what Women’s Ministries looks like in your church, but if it does not include the characteristics described here, we are depending on you to share this vision with the sisters in your local church and help them to re-focus their vision on the things that God has called them to do.
Women’s Ministries is here to hold up your arms and support your work, just as Caleb and Aaron did for Moses. As we look with eager eyes for the return of our Savior, Jesus Christ, let us work together and share the joy of winning souls for our Lord.
General Conference Women’s Ministries Director