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The Role of Women in Urban Ministry

by Ruth Rajan

What kind of Images and thoughts come to our mind when we hear or read the word "Woman. There are certain standard sayings mostly negative that pop out of our mind. "The weaker sex", "the zero power", " the object of sex", "the seducer", "the temptress", etc. Very seldom we hear the term - "better half", "behind every successful man is a woman" or "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world".

The general attitude is what good can come out of her. Hers is only kitchen knowledge. The worldly perspective is far from what God intended her to be in creation, in salvation and in Kingdom building - an impact that affects generations to come.

For a moment, think of a home without a woman. think of a neighbourhood without women. Think of a church without women. Think of a society without women. Think of a nation without women. Think of the world without women. And you will begin to realise how important she is!

Women in God's Perspective:

In God's perspective, definitely women have been created for a lofty, glorious purpose and mission in partnership with God and man.

In Gen 1;27,28, He  created her equal to man when He made her in His image and likeness, to have that intimate fellowship with God and to draw all the resources that are in Him for His purposes to be fulfilled in her and through her in partnership with man.

This life with God means sharing in His love, His compassion, His vision and mission. He blessed them - man and woman for the great task of continuing His creative and redemptive purposes with the capacity to be fruitful - (qualitative) to be able to multiply and fill the earth. This is a great commission - for the whole world to be filled by men and women made in the image and likeness of God. Definitely, the urban people are in his plans. He also gives them the power to rule and subdue together. Indeed she is no weakling but in a position of authority to be above and be able to keep in subjection that which needs to be subdued. Hence, endowed with plenty of insight, discernment and sensitivity for this kind of task. The creativity in her is a source so unique for God's plans to be fulfilled. In Gen 2:18, God gives special attention to her specific role. Here we see how God in creating her, has imbibed and woven into her being (fibres) of a strong moral personality. Soon after God gave man the command, in Gen 2:17, He says that it is not good for man to be alone, God is saying, He needs a powerful strong character who will help him obey and fulfill God's commands and what is entrusted to him. Strong character that can lay strong foundations of God in her life, home and wherever she is. What an asset a woman of conviction can be and who can shake her or that which is entrusted to her.

She is also granted the ability to take away loneliness. A heart that loves, understands, listen, be a friend, share herself and all of herself to bring fulfillment in other's lives. What an asset to the home, society, church and urban world where no one cares for the other or has time for the other. As a helpmate, God gives her a complementary and completing nature that brings wholeness and completeness to lives through that very nature and longs to help meet people's needs. Is this not what the world needs? Surely the urban world needs it more with all the physical, psychological, mental, moral, social and spiritual pressures that come upon children, youth, men and women, daily.

A woman totally yielded to God can be a powerful instrument in God's hand to be an agent of change, transformation, impact on a society. A woman is satan's hand can be a powerful destroyer.

Indeed the world is incomplete without women. Man is incomplete without women. Women - the crown of his creation has the key to bring redemption to the world through her seed. God sees no other way. Who can despise her? Who can by-pass her? It is worth investing in her for eternity to reap rich harvest of souls for eternity. You get the women and through her faith you get the children, the husband and families and communities.

Woman in Urban Perspective

Women are 50 per cent of the world's population and so they are in every urban situation. Though she is 1/3rd of the world's work force. She owns only 1/3 of the world's property.

The urban community constitutes of the elite community, middle class, lower middle class, the poor who live in slums and the semi urban communities who mostly constitute migrants. The suppression and exploitation of women down the ages without giving her due place, rights, privileges, self worth, self respect, opportunities to grow and develop - has brought about two responses:-

1) Women fighting for their rights, privileges, independence through feminist women demanding equality with men. Some through self-motivation, through education, are stepping into the world with expectation.

2) The other lot is the passive lost who accept their lot, passed down from generation as their fate and silently suffer and some find fulfillment too in just being what their urban life with its fast life and selfish pressurizing is beaten.

The urban centre is a mixture of people groups from different regions, languages and they live side by side or working side by side. The urban boundaries are widened with more and more people migrating. To specify further, the people groups among women based on the work, needs and problems etc. can be as follows. Can we unblind our eyes to see them in a different perspective of seeing specific needs in specific groups? They can be identified as the women executives, professionals, government servants, working women and housewives, women in the service sector, professors, teachers, nurses, women in hospitality sector, airlines, hotels, travel agents, women as film stars, women in the film world as producers, directors, women politicians, councilors etc. factory women workers, small scale industry women workers.

Even employees, sales girls, craft women,  vendors - flowers, fruit, vegetables and sundries. The construction workers, the road layers, the corporation workers, scavengers, sweepers, prostitutes, the rag pickers, and then there are destitutes, the juvenile delinquents, the terminally sick, the senior citizens, handicapped etc. Hence, as we begin to see them this way, indeed the task before is overwhelming and poses a great challenge to the called women and the Church since the problems and people are diverse unlike the rural and tribal situations.

So every home, every street, every work place, every market place, every busy place, becomes a mission field. Crowds and crowds are everywhere. 50 per cent of women are there. You win them. You win the whole family, the whole community, and the whole city, whose responsibility are they? The urban life with its fast life and selfish pursuing for prosperity and working for higher standards of life, is becoming less and less people-centred, sensitive to needs, problems, sufferings of people. there is no time for any one. In this situation, it is the women with compassionate hearts could reach out to them. It is they who are available when the men work late into the night. It is the woman who bears all the burdens and knows the struggles of life in order to help them.

The urban church's perspective of her women and mission

What is the church's response? Can the men reach them? Definitely no. If it is only through the women and families. If so, how many are involved? How many are equipped? How are they reaching out? To whom, where, when, how?

Most of the women in our churches are passive participants. Very few are part of the women's fellowships. They are used for fund raising (stalls and eats) for church's projects and missions. How many are involved in direct evangelism to women or women people groups?

Many women with deep rooted salvation experience and desire for souls to be saved, take personal initiative to start neighbourhood prayers or bible studies or in work places where they meet for fellowship and sharing the gospel.

Specialised ministries in urban are done mostly by Para Church. Para church agencies minister to college students, slum families, some to prostitutes, aids victims etc. Then there are prayer groups, women meeting in work places, such factories, banks, government officers or educational institutions over lunchtime where non Christian women also join or participate.

Some Churches reach out to neighbouring communities. The best strategy will be the Para and churches together in partnership reach out for a more lasting impact just not on an individual but the whole family and communities to bring them into the Church for disciple and to be disciple makers.

The Kingdom focus and vision partnership perspective and ultimate salvation of the families and communities should be our goal.

Empowering the Urban Christian Woman

To realize this vision and face the great challenge of the urban mission, indeed women have a great role to play.

From my experience and involvement thus far, I realize we need to start at a very basic level to lift women to that lofty position and calling. The church must realize the great strategic role women play in bringing cities to the Lord. Hence need to give opportunities and create opportunities for them, to realize their position in Christ, His purpose, their role, the God given role of discovering their potential and partnership in missions. This must start with teaching and training pastors' wives as "Mission to Women" does.

Teaching on God's glorious purpose for women to help them see themselves as God sees them. To lookup first, to help look into herself - their gifts and potential, talents, abilities, to help look around - their homes, community, city, as God's mission fields. When women discover themselves and their role they become powerful instruments of love, compassion, model and message to other women who in turn impact the community and cities.

Pastors' wives must identify gifted women in their church as Bible Teachers, Preachers, Creative women, Social workers, Women of Hospitality and Open Homes, Organizers etc. Hence, developing what is in them, their gifts, talents, their skills for communication and to pray biblically and with a mission focus of reaching women's people groups can indeed influence urban communities. Help them to see the people groups among women. Create opportunities for them to use their gifts and talents and see for themselves how God can use them in tremendous ways to impact lives.

Vision and Mission to the Urban Woman

Evolve strategies accordingly using creative ways starting from their point of interest which will be an ice-breaker and a point of friendship from where they can relevantly present the gospel.

Any creativity sessions in any people groups or community are a crowd puller. Any new ideas of crafts and skills or cooking have a natural attractiveness to women. Worshipping groups in communities have resulted as an outcome of this.

Any health care programmes for the community draws many women who normally keep their health as their last priority. Any church organizing an eye camp or general health camp and follow up through the hospital with personal care and responsibility goes a long way to draw many to the caring church. We have seen the impact of this in our Church. A monthly women's bible Study Group for women of other faith has resulted.

Any qualitative and creative educational programme in the best interest of development for their children and their future, combined with moral and scriptural teachings bring many families to us when we can influence them for Christ.

Creative competition in skills, which women have, is a good opportunity to bring new faces to our Church to follow up with friendship, praying specifically by name and presenting the gospel relevantly when they are most responsive.

Visiting homes in times of need, sickness, accidents etc. has its own impact. Rehabilitation ministries with partnership with the church make many a community to look up to us for help and become responsive to the gospel.

Micro-enterprises for women who face the financial burden, most of the time go a long way to impact the urban women.

Production centres for using women's skills to earn some supplementary income according to their available time helps many a woman to understand our desires and to help them in their day to day struggle. These programmes can be a meeting point with women every day for understanding and helping them for eternal purposed of God for their lives.

Christians if willing, give the urban working women some time to her self for shopping or relaxing etc. by babysitting etc. Women in flats can have creative programmes on holidays or festival days to reach whole localities.

To see a lasting impact can we women who are prayers grow as strategic pray-ers by name, by families, by communities - to soften hearts, unblind the eyes of the urban women to respond to God's initiatives through us to draw them to Himself by salvation, by faith in Christ and total surrender to the Father's will and purpose.

Conclusion

Help women. Discover, develop and use all of God's resources in them. They can surely conquer the Urban World with God's resources at their disposal. "Building, building the Kingdom of God. Building women for the Lord. Building women to build His Kingdom. In this great land of India".

 

For More Information Contact:

Christian Women Communicating Intl
PO Box 412 Punchbowl NSW 2196
Tel: (02) 9740 4792
FAX: (02) 9750 4792
Internet: info@christianwomen.org.au

 

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Copyright 2003 Christian Women Communicating Intl
Last modified: 12/15/03