Yet even the most discouraging circumstances did not take Kayy off the front lines. At the time she retired, she had planted twelve churches and founded 12 Bible colleges. The seeds she planted in the Arctic tundra produced a spiritual awakening throughout that region.
Amazingly, when I share stories about women such as Kayy Gordon, Natasha Shedrevaya or Sister Peng, some people still object. They say, "I don't think women can be apostles" or "God wants men to be the initiators, not women."
You might expect such responses from men who are blinded by a chauvinistic mind-set. But I have learned that many women hold the same narrow views. They don't think it is proper for a woman to display the apostolic courage necessary to plant churches or take nations for Christ.
How ridiculous! The Bible calls all believers--not just men--to be bold witnesses. And the Scriptures do not suggest that only men can initiate. All of us should display the kind of overcoming faith that drives us to surmount obstacles, trample on devils and challenge the status quo.
Why do so many American Christian women shy away from this apostolic challenge? I've identified four reasons:
1. They are too comfortable in their religious boxes. There is a religious spirit in the church that tells women they must fit a certain God-ordained "female role." Many Christians believe that a woman is not fulfilling this role unless she stays home all day and focuses on domestic duties.
Yet the Bible does not say all women must fulfill the same role or that all women should function primarily as homemakers and caregivers. Not all women are wives and mothers, and not all are called to stay at home full time.
I have a Hispanic friend named Jackie Rodriguez who is a gifted evangelist. In December of last year, Jackie took her baby with her to southern Mexico, where she preached in several Indian villages with her son in tow.
Some women would balk at such a seemingly dangerous mission. But Jackie has decided that she cannot excuse herself from fulfilling the Great Commission just because she is nursing a baby. She lives outside the box!
Of course not all women are called to preach in foreign countries. But my question is this: Are you willing to? Have you taken all your excuses to the cross, or are you keeping God at arm's length because you think He might ask you to go on a mission that you feel unqualified to accomplish?
2. They are paralyzed by fear. Another friend of mine, Kim Daniels, has an apostolic ministry that she began in the inner city. Earlier this year, during the conflict with Iraq, she greeted me on the telephone with excitement in her voice. "Hey, Lee, do you want to go to Iraq?" she asked.
"Right now?" I asked in amazement. "During the war?"
Kim was serious. A former soldier in the U.S. Army, she was eager to go to the front lines and minister to troops stationed in Iraq and Kuwait. During the Gulf War in 1991, Kim had led many servicemen to Jesus--and she wanted to do it again.
I was struck by Kim's total lack of fear. Her boldness was such a contrast to the passivity and timidity I see in so many American women--many of whom stopped flying in airplanes after 9/11 because of their fear of terrorism. Though Kim did not end up going to Iraq during the war, she did minister to servicemen's wives at a military base in Germany.
God has not called any of us to live under the control of fear, and women cannot use their gender as an excuse to be mousy or fainthearted. In fact, the apostle Peter commands women to renounce fear in order to be true daughters of Sarah (see 1 Pet. 3:6).
3. They are waiting for men to give them permission. The conservative church in the United States has conditioned women to be passive. For years we've told women to be quiet, stay out of church leadership and wait for men to give them instructions. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit has been wooing women to tune out the voice of religion so they can hear His voice.
Certainly God does not need a man's permission before He commissions a woman to do something. The Hebrew midwives, in fact, defied Pharaoh's mandate and refused to kill the male Hebrew babies at birth as he had commanded. Deborah, the great Old Testament prophet, took her orders from God--not a man. When God announced the coming of the Messiah to Mary, He did not consult her father or her fiancé first.
And let's remember that Jesus came to Mary Magdalene at the tomb before He appeared to his male disciples on Easter morning. If you are waiting for a man's permission to do some form of ministry, that permission may never come.