Liberating and Secure
Our Women’s Ministry Co-ordinator Elisabeth Smyth was one of the speakers at 'Walking in the Spirit' – a conference for women in the East Midlands in February. Kate Fahey helped to organise it and here are her reflections after they spent the day learning from God’s word.
Our desire for a women’s conference at Newark Evangelical Church began with Psalm 119: to walk wisely as Christians in this fallen world we need our feet planted firmly on the word of God.
For me personally, I was driven by a longing for women – including myself – to truly understand the importance of God’s word and the power it has to transform lives.
Hebrews 4:12 sums it up perfectly:
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
I’ve been greatly encouraged in this journey by the work of The Gospel Coalition and the women who serve with them. Their ministry has been vital in establishing the heart behind our own women’s conference: that we would see, and encourage, the role of women teaching women. More specifically, that this ministry would teach us how to live not just as women, but as Christians, grounded in the sound theology that informs our everyday lives.
How did we do it?
Well, it’s easy when you have a great team! We had a core group of five women, each with specific responsibilities and help from pastors along the way. Decorations, cakes and further roles on the day were undertaken by other members of our church body, easing the load, and helping things run smoothly. I am eternally grateful for the servant-hearted women in our congregation.
To give a comprehensive view of women in ministry we had two missionary talks exploring the mission field at home and away. Our first teaching was from Proverbs 31:30 and was delivered by FIEC Women’s Ministry Coordinator Elisabeth Smyth. In the afternoon Elisabeth also facilitated a seminar on Hebrews 13 which included a time for prayer in small groups.
There is no greater reward after all the preparations and anticipation than when the conference begins, and God is with us. Even though there had been no communication between the speakers, there was a clear thread woven throughout the day.
Grace Morton, one of our mission speakers summed it up beautifully as she called for us to be “faithful to who God has called you to be,” and “faithful to where he has called you to be.”
In this fallen world we can often draw conclusions on our worth and effectiveness in the gospel based upon how we measure up against others. We can feel that our contributions are not valid or important within our day to day work, inside or outside of the home.
We live in a society that no longer values the role of a ‘stay at home’ mum, but what greater mission field is there than our own children? If we are mothers, God has called us to be mothers, if not, his calling is just as firmly upon us to live a gospel-centred life. We must be faithful to where God has called us so that we might see his abundant grace and blessing in the mundane!
The world’s view of what it is to be a woman is flawed, dangerous and debilitating, but God’s view on women is liberating and secure. By trusting in his purposes for our lives we can fulfil our potential by ultimately serving as a member in his body in a way specific to the spiritual gifts God has given each one of us. There is no need to compare ourselves to those around us because God has given us all a task.
As 1 Corinthians 10:31 puts it:
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
All through the day and each day since, someone has been in touch with me to share how the day has impacted them on a personal and spiritual level. Each person’s situation and circumstances differ, and each was encouraged by a different aspect of the day. The comments and feedback of the women who attended have been truly thrilling.
“I have been overwhelmed by God’s grace.”
“Elisabeth’s teaching on the Proverbs 31 woman has been liberating.”
“I have been really struggling just lately and had been praying for God to speak to me today. He has!”
“I can’t be anyone else, God has given me a task to be faithful in, regardless of my age.”
As the church, we have a responsibility to equip and encourage one another in the gospel. To identify spiritual need as well as physical need and provide for it. That is our goal and through it we glorify our father in heaven. What better use of our time?