Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thank God, I'm a Woman

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."  Proverbs 31:30

“When do you become old?” I asked our missionary colleagues in Pakistan. I was about thirty years old at the time and social and spiritual restrictions of being a female in ministry were not overly welcomed by me. Obviously a female needed to be “old” before those restrictions were lifted. My question was serious because it was clear culturally speaking that men and women needed to socialize separately; especially if living outside of modern cities. I was afraid I would become somebody I was not or that my evangelistic giftings would lie dormant. Nevertheless, I humbled myself entering into the cultural mindset which kept me separated from males. When we were invited to a home for a meal Ed and I would eat in separate rooms. Preaching on the hospital wards was relegated to the women’s wards. Praying with a man would be off limits. When walking outside with Ed I would take a few steps behind him but certainly never in front of him. It seemed humiliating for me as a woman. In the Pakistani church we sat on opposites sides of each other. It would have been inappropriate to shake a Muslim man’s hands. To give him a hug would be unthinkable. To look him too directly in the eye would be too forward. To laugh and enjoy a conversation with him most inappropriate. To run off to the bazaar by myself would raise a few eyebrows for sure. It was not easy being a Christian missionary woman in a Muslim country. But I did pick it up that it got easier when you got old. That is why I wanted to know what that perfect number was! It seemed elusive and way down the line. Obviously I could not speed up that perfect age. So….I waited…

Well, it is true, believe it or not that ministry gets better and easier for a woman the older she gets as far as being able to mix freer with the opposite sex. I have come to believe that ministry among Muslims flourishes for the older woman more than for the man in many cases. Suddenly the doors swing wide open for an older woman to speak spiritually into men’s lives which in turn often means into the whole family’s life. What is that perfect age? It is not clearly defined. For me it came around late forties when I became a grandma. My hair had not yet turned gray but our kids were married and we became grandparents. Becoming a grandma in Muslim culture is a big thing and sets her apart as a honorable matriarch of sorts. Today I thank God I am a woman. It is so much in my favor when it comes to Muslim outreach.  It never fails to amaze me how Muslim men, in front of their wives, desire to hear words of truth from God’s Word and to be prayed for. Today they see me more as a spiritual mother figure. Many Muslim men feel safer with the mother figure than a father figure. It is a mystery worth waiting for!

Dear heavenly Father, help me to learn how to wait and grow in the restrictive seasons of ministry.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.