A little while ago, I read a comment written by Art Schnatterly (@aliveintheword) which he wrote in response to a blog written by Kirk M (@blessings2you) entitled What Should Be The Christian Response To The Events In Japan? Aliveintheword wrote that he'd heard a well-known Christian leader criticize a mission effort in Ghana because he felt it was
Better these people die of thirst, poor medical care and hunger than that they be served because of how the missionary group baptizes.
I was stunned but knew that I'd heard such things come out of the mouths of Christians far too often. Do we really pay attention to what we are saying? I believe we need to!
I suppose it was about three years ago when I read something here at CB which stunned me. It was a debate about whether or not women should be pastors. The blogger, who happened to be a very young woman by the way, believed that under no circumstances should a woman be a pastor. I realize that many Christians do have an issue with women in positions of ministry and I would like to say very clearly right here and now the purpose of this blog is not to debate that issue! Comments attempting to do so will be removed. The purpose of this blog is to get us to think about what we are actually saying, before we say it.
When I read the comment made by this young woman, I thought about a woman I know who is a dear friend of my mom's and in being so, has become a dear friend of my family. She has labored for the Lord faithfully for more than 30 years on a reservation in central South Dakota. A church up there needed a pastor and... no men wanted to go. It is a very difficult "field" to labor in. The community is quite poor, unemployment is very high and it is fraught with "social problems" such as alcoholism, teen pregnancy and suicide.
It has been a lonely road for my friend. She is a single woman and has often had little or no help from her congregation or her denomination. Over the past couple of years I've heard that things are changing and this congregation has become much stronger due to her tireless efforts. I have never seen a pastor show more compassion for their members. She has tirelessly striven to serve her little flock, giving selflessly of her time and resources. I have no doubt whatsoever that God will say to her "Well done, my good and faithful servant!"
I shared this story with the young woman who believed that no woman should ever pastor a church and her response grieved me. I was told it would have been better for no one to go rather than for a woman to go...
Really? Are we absolutely certain of that? I thought about the people who have come to know Christ through her ministry. I thought of the members she sat with as their son underwent a heart transplant. She had traveled 400 miles with them at her own expense... so they wouldn't be alone during that time. Do we really believe that these people do not deserve to hear the Gospel; that they do not deserve to have a faithful pastor? In the same manner, do we really believe that people in Ghana do not deserve clean water and adequate food because we don't like how the denomination doing it baptizes people?
During his earthly ministry, the disciples of Jesus stopped someone from preaching about Jesus because he was not one of them . Jesus' response was to leave him alone. Rather than criticize those who are laboring for God, perhaps we need to get out there in the field ourselves. We need to think carefully about the words we say.