Who are the women on the cutting edge of missions? Are they the ones who are easily recognised due to media exposure? Are they the ones who speak at conferences, write books, and appear on radio talk shows?
Or are they the ones who quietly serve the Lord, making a difference in a person’s life, a congregation, or a community? How are these women defined as being “on the cutting edge of missions”?
When I began theological studies thirteen years ago at Singapore Bible College, I was taught by both men and women of God. The college encouraged us to be mission-minded and our professors never failed to bring missions into the classroom. Such influence impacted me greatly.
I became a full-time missionary nine years ago. In that time, I have met many women across Africa, Asia, and America who are not well known, have not pursued formal theological studies, and have not become pastors/leaders in churches. Yet these women make life-changing differences in the lives of others.
They are bold yet humble, firm yet gracious, sometimes task-masters yet passionate for Christ. They are the ones who willingly avail themselves for God for no recognition at all.
Still, their hearts are that of a pastor, missionary, and leader. God has given them the grace to shepherd without an earthly ordination, to envision without the “sending out,” and to serve by leading men, women, and children into a greater knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God uses anyone with a willing heart to build his kingdom. In Exodus 35:4, the Lord commands the Israelites through Moses to bring offerings with a willing heart so that the tabernacle may be built. Paul reminds us in Romans 12:1-2 that our lives are to be living sacrifices. Our lives are the offering: we bring ourselves to God and avail ourselves to be used for his kingdom purposes and glory. Women on the cutting edge of missions will never forget to embrace these basics.
The Story of Priscilla*
Priscilla is an Indian based in a Middle East nation. She lives with her husband and two children. When she was hungering for God more than six years ago, she joined a discipleship group that offered systematic Bible training. In four years, she became a facilitator, a first-generation disciple who now disciples both men and women.
Initially, she was focused on discipling among her own culture group, but as she grasped the enormity of God’s Great Commission to “disciple the nations,” her heart resonated with her husband’s heart to disciple beyond their cultural and language groups.
God at Work and Wooing
God is faithful towards a heart with a right motive. He gave Priscilla a group of fourteen Filipinas who were from a Catholic background. As Priscilla discipled them and informed them about Jesus, all of these Filipinas gave their lives to the only one who could redeem them, the only Lord and Saviour. This incident happened after their fourth lesson in discipleship.
Priscilla was so enthused with what God was doing among her own group in the restricted nation that she envisioned bringing such discipleship training to her homeland. Her desire was to equip believers in her state to grasp the Great Commission and bring the teachings of Christ to others.
Overflow of Transformation
Imagine the changes that needed to happen in Priscilla’s family and friends as she studied God’s word and was transformed for his glory. Her children had to be taught that she now had a vision to disciple the nations. It was easier with her husband, who had been recognised as a heavenly-ordained (that is, not ordained by denominational requirements) pastor. He began to work alongside her in facilitating groups.
Priscilla’s Indian church community needed to embrace the fact that an Indian woman with a family can be raised up by God to serve among the nations. Indian men and women around her began to accept that she was a God-appointed servant-leader. Priscilla’s parents and parents-in-law began to support her new endeavours and adventures.
Priscilla is a tutor by profession, and even her students were not left behind. She increasingly began to pray and used every opportunity to “sow the seed.” She boldly spoke about Jesus to all believing and unbelieving students, lovingly correcting believers when they defied God’s way of living.
The Growing Disciple Becomes a Discipler
As the transformation in Priscilla affected those around her, men and women began to seek her counsel; her prophetic prayers were like soothing balm. She learned to raise up others to become missionaries, and her heart became generous as she gave financially towards the Lord’s kingdom work.
Priscilla is no longer a baby Christian. She is mature, with an increasing hunger for God. Her wisdom has increased and her counsel remains welcome. She has become an instrumental co-labourer with God, her husband, and with a mission agency. She is involved in training nearly one hundred men and women to become future disciplers. Through her efforts and by God’s grace, second-generation disciples are being born, and soon there will be a third generation.
I once asked Priscilla what her biggest transformation has been as she has studied the word of God. She responded, “Being able to speak my mind during our discipleship classes, and especially among brothers.” Priscilla continues to study and is completing her MA in theological studies.
Priscilla is a woman on the cutting edge of missions. She represents the woman who is radical enough to break cultural, national, and gender barriers to be like Jesus and to do as he commands despite persecution, whether physical or emotional. She is a five-fold minister just like Jesus—apostle, prophet, pastor, teacher, and evangelist. She is just one of the many “fruits” of systematic Bible training. Priscilla began in small steps, and, being faithful to God, he honored her.
* Name changed to protect identity.