Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God
Adoniram Judson, pioneer missionariy to Burma
Dora Moses pastors a church she founded in her home in Yangon just two years ago The young church has already planted seven daughter churches, and has sent out seven missionaries to unreached areas. Recently two women have gone into a strongly Buddhist area.
More than 450 women listened intently to Dora's report as they met in the historic Immanuel Baptist Church in downtown Yangon. The church dates back more than 100 years when missionaries like Adoniram Judson first brought the gospel to the country, then known as Burma. The conference was sponsored by the Myanmar AD2000 Movement.
For six months Dorothy Colney, Women's Track Coordinator, and her team of 40 prayer partners met to fast and pray for the conference. The women gave generously out of their meager income to help with the costs of the conference.They invited Thelma Pantig from the Philippines, Southeast Asian Representative for the Women's Track, and Lorry Lutz, International Coordinator from the USA to teach. With student demonstrations calling for reinstatement of banned political leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, tensions increased in the last weeks before the conference but all seemed calm during the meetings.
Woman came from many denominations and churches, some from as far north as Kochin State, several hundred miles away. Local churches housed and fed the women who traveled by public transport .
The main purpose of the conference was to raise vision for evangelism and praying for the unreached. Women prayed with great earnestness for the six 10/40 window countries which have been assigned to southeast Asia-- Morocco, Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Azerbijan, Kyrgistan and Tibet.
One of the conference leaders, Kwangi Nawni, and her husband began to plant churches among the Chin people a number of years ago. Though the Chin's were evangelized when the gospel first came to Burma, many today are apathetic and nominal. Kwangi's husband urged her to leave Burma to gain further education since she had a B. A. and could speak English. Leaving her husband and five year old daughter behind, Kwangi studied for several years in Manila,and later attended Fuller seminary. Today their ministry has grown to 86 churches with 120 staff in Chin state as well as a Chin congregation of more than 200 in Yangon. They are seeing more Buddhists come to Christ than ever before. When asked why, Kwangi gave three reasons:
It was evident from the interest and endurance of the women -- sitting from 8:30 am until 4pm in the heat and humidity, that they were eager to learn and hungry for Truth. With the church's isolation after missionaries were ousted in 1966, and three decades of restrictive military rule, Burmese women found the opportunity to meet across denominational and tribal lines to listen to hours of teaching of the Word of God, a breath of fresh air.
Jesus' relationship with women was revolutionary
With this issue of the newsletter we are beginning a series of short studies on how Jesus released women into ministry. We tend to focus on Paul's teachings about women in the early church, which very often were dictated by the expectations of the culture of that day. But Jesus in His quiet way modeled a totally revolutionary way of treating women.
As you read through the gospels you will notice that Jesus seldom addressed gender issues. He never said "You men" or "You women." He treated everyone equally, without any class distinctions. He healed men and women; He told parables about both sexes; He accused both of sin.
Jesus demonstrated the best qualities of both sexes in His character and life. He was a man of strength -- a carpenter who wielded a hammer and saw. He walked many miles in the desert heat, his skin burning bronze under the summer sun. He endured physical hardships. He reminded His disciples, "The Son of Man has no where to lay his head."
He drove out demons -- demons who recognized who He was and retreated in fear. He rebuked religious leaders to their face, knowing they had the human power to destroy Him. He physically drove out money changers in the temple, overturning their tables to the shock of all who watched. He faced death courageously-- and willingly for us. He was a "man's man"
But Jesus was also a man of tenderness, with compassion for the sick and tears over the death of His friend. He touched people to heal them, invited children to come close to Him; referred to Himself as a shepherd looking for a lost sheep. He washed the disciples' feet; cooked fish for them as they came into land after a fruitless fishing trip. He demonstrated that feminine qualities are not weakness, but as powerful as love itself.
He talked with women publicly, taught them privately, allowed them to follow Him closely, and gave them important assignments -- all revolutionary actions in His day. He did that because He wants you to know, dear sister, that the fact that you were born in a woman's body rather than a man's makes you no less precious or beloved.
Panama probably has never seen such benign excitement. With almost 4000 delegates converging on the tiny state two days after Christmas from all over Latin America, the joy and celebration was infectious. The Latins had convened to focus Latin America on its role to complete the goal of "A church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000."
Latin America2000 was sponsored by the AD2000 & Beyond Movement, Campus Crusade for Christ and CONELA*. Latin speakers reminded delegates of the progress of the past three decades. Hector Prado, a leading pastor in Columbia, pointed out that evangelicals in his country have grown from 27,000 in the 1960's to 3-4 million today. Bare toleration of biblical values has shifted to constitutional equality and freedom for Christians.
Campus Crusade leaders, Bill and Vonnette Bright both spoke in plenary sessions. Vonnette's words were in part directed to the men in the audience, but were especially encouraging to the small number of women in attendance. A reporter for AD2000 and Beyond, summarized her words: "'There are not two commissions-- one for men and one for womenl' She went on to describe how Bill, the founder and president of Campus Crusade for Christ has always treated her as an equal partner in the ministry. She wanted only to be Mrs. Bill Bright, but he urged her to develop her capacity for leadership. As a result, she has often been a peer with men on committees and was one of three women on the original 50-member Lausanne Committee. Her views changed over the years as she traveled the world and saw how often women were pushed down. Her voice rang out so that all could hear her warning clearly, 'I feel that God may judge some men for limiting women and not allowing them to develop their leadership skills.' She shared evidence that women enhance a committee and prevent tunnel vision focused on results without consideration of how the results will help and hurt people on various levels."
While the conference indeed mobilized leaders of Latin America to focus on the goal of evangelizing the unreached, we pray that Vonnette's words will inspire women to carry their fair share of this responsibility, and that men will encourage them to do so. *Confraternity of Evangelical Churches of Latin America
Shannon Lucid, the American astronaut who recently set a U.S. record of 188 days in space is the daughter of Baptist missionaries to China, where she was born. She once said, "The Baptists wouldn't let women preach, so I became an astronaut to get closer to God than my father." The Link and Visitor, December, 1996
Marina Dimitrova, National AD2000 Women's Track coordinator in Bulgaria reports that women are planning to send teams to the Rodoppa Mountains for evangelism among unreached groups of Muslims and Pomaks. Two other groups are going to Moldova, Ukraine and Macedonia to share the gospel with Bulgarians living in those countries.
Two women from the Adyg ethnic group, an unreached people, attended the Black Sea Conference in Russia last May. Now Marina and her husband are working full-time with her people. A woman in the United States had been praying for many years for the Adyg's and is seeing an answer to her prayers as she met Marina when she spoke in her church to present the needs of the Adyg people. As a result the church has agreed to support Marina and her husband. A second Adyg, Liza, who also attended the conference, has left her teaching job to work with Marina and her husband.
For information and application forms to attend any of these conferences contact the international coordinator's office or the regional representative listed on page 4.
Maria was pregnant and deathly ill. She lived under Communist rule, where medicines were difficult to come by and life was cheap. Her doctor gave her kerosene lamp oil to cure her diphtheria and warned, "Don't bring the child you're carrying into the world with this [infected] blood."
On a bleak winter day, she boarded a street car and headed for the hospital to have an abortion. Abortion was routine in her country. Women helped each other with crude instruments and many died. But her doctor had assured her that she was dying anyway.
Something she did not understand prompted her to keep asking herself, "Should I have this abortion?" A sense of foreboding gripped her heart and she seemed to hear a voice say, "Don't kill this baby!"
She did not know the God who spoke to her, yet she heeded His silent voice and turned around to go back home. A few months later she delivered a sickly little girl and named her Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth was nine years old, Maria and her family heard the Gospel, and they all accepted Christ. In her teens, after hearing a woman missonary speak, Elizabeth promised God that if He ever needed another woman to serve Him, she would be that woman. Miraculously, He opened some locked doors for her to attend Bible College in the West. Here she prepared for ministry and met Ditmar Mittelstaedt, the man who eventually became her husband and co-worker.
Several years later, after a flawed dental procedure left her in constant, excruciating pain, she was walking one day across a bridge over a small river in her town. She looked down into the water and a voice seemed to say, "Jump!"
Startled, she looked up and across the bridge to the pretty little German village beyond with its geranium flower boxes and white picket fences. "Behind those nice homes there is a lot of pain and brokenness for women," she heard God say to her.
I could beel how God loves the women," Elizabeth recalls. "In that moment, my heart was broken about what broke His heart. I can't explain how God breaks your heart, it just happens. So I said, 'God, I would love to help, but what can I do?" That was the day God gave her the idea of a magazine for women. A truly preposterous idea! Publishers were sure the German women wouldn't read it and no one would finance it. But her husband, Ditmar, encouraged her. And when she cried out to God, "You see God, nobody wants this magazine," she heard Him saying, "But I wan it!"
Shortly thereafter, the frail little woman who'd been rescued from the abortionst's knife by the voice of the God her mother did not yet know, became the editor of LYDIA magazine. Contrary to all the publishers had warned her, by the third issue it had a circulation of 10,000 copies. With its top-quality four color pictures, coated paper, and professional design and illustrations, it could compete with women's magazines anywhere in the world. Most important, it focured on helping women know Christ, and how to manage their lives as Christian women, build Christian marriages and train their children.
Today, it is published in German, Romanian and Hungarian and read by an estimated one million readers. And when they read, the women are drawn to Jesus who is the love of Elizabeth Mittelstaedt's life.
Women in leadership face a host of subtle temptations and devastating struggles. We depend on each other to pray us through our difficulties to vitory, both in our ministries and our personal lives. Here are a few suggestions for using Scripture to pray for your Area Representative and other women leaders.
These are only starters. Each day, as God speaks to you, use His words to pray for your leader in the same things you pray for yourself. "And He will...purify the [daughters] of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness." Malachi 3:3