Ministry in Renewal
We have seen many prominent men such as George Whitefield, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, Savanarola, and the like, used powerfully in revival periods. We have also seen prominent women, such as Maria Woodworth-Etter, Aimee Semple McPherson, and Kathryn Kuhlman used mightily of God to advance His kingdom. But the dynamic that has been characteristic in Church history is an either/or model.
In the Catholic system, the trend was to segregate holy men and women into monasteries and convents. Later, in the Protestant system, ministry roles in the Church tended to be gender specific, with the majority of preaching and teaching duties delegated to men. Two notable exceptions do come to mind, however.
The first is the Quaker revival with George Fox and Margaret Fell (whom Fox eventually married) — a revival wherein many women were released in prophetic and evangelistic works. The second is the Salvation Army, under William and Catherine Booth, a movement which produced battalions of women and men working together, feeding the poor, preaching the gospel, and leading the movement. The current trend of both men and
women ministering together in the renewal is therefore very exciting. From the beginning we have seen husbands and wives who both hold prominent public positions. Examples include: John and Carol Arnott, Ken and Lois Gott, and Eleanor and John Mumford. Eleanor was instrumental in bringing the renewal from Toronto to Holy Trinity Brompton in London, England, which subsequently become a “watering hole” for much of England. Others include Rick and Pam Wright, Tony and Sandy Cavener from Atlanta, Che and Sue Ahn from Pasadena, and Wesley and myself.
Even John and Brenda Kilpatrick min- ister together in spreading revival fires birthed in the now famous Pensacola out- pouring. Brenda is often the one to represent the outpouring in other places.
I believe God is doing a sovereign work in releasing women to work alongside men. The old adage, “models control outcomes,” rings true here. The fact that women are leading from the platform causes more women in the pew to be mobilized into ministry. This was the case with the Salvation Army, and appears to be the case now.
However, such a trend should not surprise us. I believe it is very biblical. From the beginning, when God created men and women, He created them to work together, not apart. Eve was to be Adam’s “helper” in subduing the earth and ruling over all of creation (Gen 1:28). Sin not only separated them from God, but also from each other. God distinguished their ministries or roles when he cursed them (Gen. 3:16-19).
But Jesus changed the way God’s peo- ple were to regard women. He included them as part of His travelling ministry team (Luke 8:1-3) and modeled an inclusion of their gifts and talents, setting up patterns which continued in the early Church. The New Testament shows women in a variety of ministry roles, from prophesying (Acts 21:8,9; I Cor. 11:5) and teaching (Titus 2:3) to carrying out business (Acts 16:14) and labouring in the gospel (Phil 4:3).
The restrictions on women in public worship (I Cor 14:34 & I Tim. 2:12) are enigmatic to the careful reader, because just prior to the regulation to keep silent given in I Corinthians 14, Paul explains how women are to pray and prophesy in I Corinthians 11 and no one can prophesy silently!
This tells me that the injunction to maintain silence is not to be taken as a prohibition on functioning in the gifts God has given women since New Testa- ment women are presented in every role from hospitality to teaching men. It was, in fact, a husband and wife team that taught the great preacher, Apollos (Acts 18:26). Today, I believe, women are being released in great numbers to prophesy and preach and teach or to serve in whatever capacities God has gifted them.
In saying this, I am not saying it’s better for women to preach or prophesy than to be busy with duties at home. I love being at home with my children and would be more than content doing only that, if that was what God had called me to do. Among some of the most godly women I know are mothers of nine and ten chil- dren who use their gifts mostly in their homes. This is a highly honourable calling, and I try to “follow the example” (I Cor. 11:1) of such women.
But God has called and gifted Wesley and me to work together in a public min- istry. I come from a Plymouth Brethren background where women have very restricted functions in the church, and I found my call to public ministry very hard to accept at first, but the Lord has helped me to experience a shift in perspective. He has caused me to see how, not only husbands and wives, and men and women in general, but also children and families can share in the ministry of renewal and revival.
Doing God’s will does not have to separate us from our families. We can do the will of God together. Just last month, Wesley and I were in Campbell River, B.C. with our kids for renewal services. Steve and Patty Richards were there with their tent and their children. Their ten-year-old son preached and prophesied. My own children helped me pray for other chil- dren and adults.
Whenever Wesley does his “Burning Heart” presentation (based on the movie, “Braveheart,”) all my boys, even the four- year-old, dress up and do it with him. Two months ago, they performed it in Sunderland, England, to an audience of more than 2,000 people. The boys greatly enjoy participating in their dad’s ministry.
I get the impression that some women feel they have to wait until their children grow up before they can be used of God in their spiritual giftings and talents. I firmly believe this is not true. If God has given you a gift, exercise it faithfully and for His glory, and when He opens doors of ministry, don’t be afraid to go through. After all, God is incredibly creative, and will show you how to carry out what He has called you to do. He will make a way for you to do the good works that He has predestined you to do (Eph 2:10).
Years ago, the Lord told me to study the life of Catherine Booth. I discovered that she had eight children in a day when the luxuries of automation did not exist. Yet she was a gifted preacher. Some say she was better than her husband, William. She used her gift in churches and on the streets raising tens of thousands of dollars for the poor and calling hundreds of workers, both male and female, into the harvest fields for Christ. All of Catherine Booth’s children grew up to love and serve God. One daughter, Evangeline, was particularly gifted in leadership and preaching, and was the first woman general of the International Salvation Army.
In the current outpouring I believe God is releasing a whole new vision to men and women on working together. It is unveiling new dimensions in ministry in women’s lives, and is expanding the possibilities for their service.
God is gifting a host of men and women to prophesy, preach, feed the poor, intercede for the lost, and love Him not only with their minds, hearts, and souls, but with all their strength as well.