One of my favourite Pentecostal saintsof all times is Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922), Indian activist, evangelist and holy roller. Over a hundred years before Malala she campaigned for women’s right to education, and she was extremely active in helping the poor and discriminated.
Born in a Brahmite family in what is now the state of Karnataka, she started to study at an early age and learned Sanskrit along with sacred Hinduist texts, astronomy, physiology and more. This was controversial since she lacked a penis, but her father encouraged her as she learned more and more about society, religion and activism.
In 1883 she went to England and taught Sanskrit at an Anglican monastery in Wantage. There she was saved. “I realized,” she later wrote, “after reading the fourth chapter of St. John’s Gospel, that Christ was truly the Divine Saviour he claimed to be, and no one but He could transform and uplift the downtrodden women of India.”
Yoido Full Gospel Church (YFGC), with 830,000 members, is well-known for being the largest church in the world. The Assemblies of God congregation, located in Seoul, South Korea, was started by Yonggi Cho in 1958. However, some readers may be surprised to learn that the congregation’s growth is due in large part to the ministry of women. In a 1979 Pentecostal Evangel article, Yonggi Cho shared how the Holy Spirit prompted him to train and empower women ministers — despite the negative view of Korean culture toward women leaders. These women became the backbone of the church’s cell group structure.
Yonggi Cho’s ministry in Seoul began with dreams and visions. As a newly minted Bible college graduate, he had a dream that he was going to someday pastor the largest church in Korea. People scoffed at this dream, which he believed God had given to him. He worked very hard, and after six months he had used all of his sermons and wore himself out. Continue reading How Women Ministers Fueled the Growth of the World’s Largest Church→
Sometime in the latter part of the first century, during the peak of the Roman Empire’s power and decadence, Jesus appeared to his beloved disciple John while he was imprisoned on the island of Patmos. John’s vision led to the writing of what we now know as the Book of Revelation. Between 666, seven-headed dragons, and the whore of Babylon, Revelation’s imagery is cryptic and notoriously hard to interpret, but there’s one passage that stands out as particularly relevant for Americans living in 2017.
Jesus tells the Church at Ephesus they’ve lost sight of their first love, and that if they don’t repent, He’ll quickly remove their candlestick (Rev 2:1). As a person raised in the Protestant faith, I don’t believe that anyone—not even the Pope—has the infallible ability to speak for Jesus today, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make an educated guess as to what He might be thinking. So I’ll give it a try: I think Jesus is removing the candlestick of white evangelical Christianity. Continue reading Why Supporting an Accused Pedophile is Disastrous for White Evangelicals→
What does the Bible have to say about sexual harassment, sexual assault and the #MeToo experiences that are coming to light?And how might the Bible reveal how the distortion of power can create conditions for a #MeToo culture.
I believe God is a purging our country today and powerful people are being exposed because they have abused their power and have exploited men and women sexually. Many believe that sexual harassment and assault are primarily about sex and desire and indeed sex has something to do with it but harassment, assault ,abuse and rape are about entitlement, power and about powerful people exploiting the vulnerabilities of others.Sometimes that power is physical strength but often times that power is from a higher position entailing more social status or the power to offer jobs or take them away.Sometimes it is the power of an older adult exploiting the inexperience and gullibility of the young.Continue reading Biblical #MeToo Stories→
A couple of years ago I was at a Christian conference. The speaker was a completely ordinary charismatic with a dramatic voice, a suit, some extra pounds and was – of course – a man. Nothing out of the ordinary. This man even made attempts at being funny. And judging by the reaction of the room, he succeeded. Only I couldn’t laugh.
One of the most challenging issues in the church is this idea that marriage involves a husband having authority OVER his wife. I can’t tell you how many marriages have been harmed by this teaching and how often a marriage is reduced by teachings such as this. Marriage is not a business or a corporation in which one person is leader over the other and decides what is best for another person. Marriage is about two human beings being in an intimate relationship with one another within which each one is honored and respected. It is in the family that we and our children learn how to live justly in community. That is why mutual submission is so important.
This idea of husbands being in authority over a wife comes from the patriarchal ideals common in the first century when women were given to further the honor or wealth of a given family. She was more of a traded commodity than a person. In the first century women were considered less human, imperfect or less formed males, and inferior beings with less rational abilities. They were also considered more easily deceived and childlike, therefore in need of a ruler. Continue reading Mutual Submission in a Christlike Marriage→
The modern Pentecostal movement is a child of the radical wing of the Holiness movement, which championed the doctrine of sanctification as a second, definite work of grace. The Holiness movement was very active in works of social justice, including but not limited to various compassionate ministries, interracial work, temperance, and women’s suffrage. Especially from 1850 onward, it produced a number of women who ministered as evangelists, Bible study leaders, and even a bishop. Mrs. Alma White had been a popular Methodist preacher who participated in the Metropolitan Church Association, one of many such Holiness associations. Ultimately, Alma left both groups and founded the Pillar of Fire Church. She was consecrated a bishop by the Holiness evangelist William Godbey.
With this kind of backdrop to the Pentecostal movement in the United States, it would seem likely that women would play a significant role. And so they did. Charles Fox Parham trained women for ministry in his Apostolic Faith Movement from 1900 onward. His sister-in-law, Lilian Thistlewaite, held meetings of her own throughout the midwest and appeared alongside Parham in extended meetings elsewhere. Parham commissioned a number of women to establish church plants and serve as pastors.
The African American preacher William Joseph Seymour brought the Apostolic Faith Movement to Los Angeles in 1906. His Azusa Street Mission quickly became known as an interracial congregation led by an African American pastor, with capable women and men providing leadership and outreach. The Mission was even ridiculed on the front page of the Los Angeles Evening News, July 23, 1906, for violating Paul’s command in 1 Corinthians 14:34 regarding the silence of women. Continue reading Why Aren’t There More Female Pentecostal Pastors?→