The other team members involved in Ishshah’s Story come to you from established blogs where you can go to get to know them. Since that’s not true for me, I’d like to share with you a bit of background on how God shaped and prepared me for this ministry.
In July I celebrated my 76th birthday; however, the more important “born from above/born again” date was a little over 40 years ago. First let me say, that though the body is growing old, the inside person of soul and spirit has an exuberance for life, learning, and God. Most of us senior citizens are wise young people in old bodies.
God knows the perfect time for each of us to come into relationship with Him. Though I went to church I was empty inside. I had looked for fulfilment in all the things that are supposed to satisfy us and found that as I achieved each one, the emptiness was still there. I met some folks in the 60s who seemed to have a real connection to God and I longed for it, but it was not until 1974 that my “perfect” time came. Nothing has been the same since.
Formal training was not an option for me, but oh what provision God can make. Not only has God led me to magnificent teaching, He has protected me from movements that went off course. Most of all, God has used life with all of its circumstances to “train this child in the way she should go.” I’ll use later posts to share specifics but suffice it to say that He has taken and continues to take me to school on marriage, kids, work, church, relationships, prayer, truth, all the pieces and parts of life.
What you need to hear now is how God caused me to get serious about finding out how women fit into His plan. I grew up in a time when most women stayed home but I was never told there were limitations on me because I was female. After I came to know the Lord I began to squirm a bit about what appeared to be the second class place of women in both the home and church. While it appeared to be scriptural, it just didn’t fit with my raising or with the Lord I was coming to know.
I am not one to hold a grudge. Normally I’m the volatile one that blows and lets you know what I think and then it’s over as far as I’m concerned. A few days later I can’t even give a clear account of what caused the problem. However in the early 90s, I was part of a team that led a retreat in another town. A woman asked a question about male headship. What she was told was basically that men were in charge and had 1 Cor 11:3 quoted to her,”… the head of woman is man…” She immediately got up and walked out and I wanted to join her! I had to know the truth, even if I didn’t like what I found.
Since this was before the internet became a quick and easy source, my first act when I got home was to call a friend, Gay Anderson, who ran a Christian bookstore to see if she knew what was available on the subject. She loaned me three books, two skinny ones and a thick one called God’s Word to Women by Katharine Bushnell. I started with the skinny ones. Both authors concluded that Paul had been badly misinterpreted and rejected traditional interpretations. However, I still had questions when I picked up Bushnell’s book.
Bushnell looks carefully at every scripture that relates to women. This is what I needed because if the scripture did not support equality then it really didn’t matter how I felt about it. I had read only the first few pages before I picked up the phone and asked my friend, Gay, if she had read it. She confessed that though the book had been on her shelf for a couple of years she had not. Over the next week, I was calling every few minutes to share another discovery. I never did give the book back but I bought her one and as you will see, she read it!
Sometime later Gay went to a conference and came back telling me about meeting Barbara Collins who had taught a session on Biblical Equality and mentioned God’s Word to Women (GWTW). Later we both met with Barbara who had been given opportunity to buy a few hundred copies of GWTW from some elderly ladies who had had it published but were no longer able to serve as distributers. Gay, Barbara and I bought the books and in 1998 started a website ministry called God’s Word to Women as a vehicle to distribute the books and post articles by those writing on Biblical equality.
Now, we are the elderly ladies and the site has been passed on to Hyatt International Ministries along with copies of God’s Word to Women that we republished in 2004. Though Bushnell’s book is foundational it is not the last word. Recent scholarship has added to our understanding. I highly recommend that you take a look at the site; all that we did is still there, but the Hyatt’s are taking it on to the next level.
Through the website we met many who were writing on Biblical Equality and our grasp of the arguments both pro and con was solidified. We attempted to post material that was sound, clear, and targeted a non-academic audience. This is how I met Cheryl McGrath. Cheryl asked me to work with her on the She Shall Be Called Woman course which we have offered as a class and are now putting online on the Women for the Nations website. Cheryl has also invited me to take part in the editorial team on Ishshah’s Story.
When I look back on the way God has led and cared for me over the years I stand amazed. I love the patterns and events that give meaning to numbers in scripture. Forty, for example, is the number of testing, like 40 days in the wilderness for Jesus or 40 years for the Hebrew people. In those cases it was a time for moving ahead to what God had next, so, if this holds true for me, this should be an exciting time. I’m looking expectantly to see what the year will bring; particularly through meeting you on Ishshah’s Story or through the She Shall Be Called Woman online course that Cheryl and I are offering on the Women for the Nation’s website.
Footnotes  What Paul Really Said About Women by John Bristow and Who Said Women Can’t Teach by Charles Trombley