Our guest blogger today is David R. Wells, General Superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. David has always been a strong supporter of ministering women within our fellowship and today he shares with us how his theology surrounding the role of women was "fleshed out" through the example of his mother.
by David Wells
I’ve pondered numerous times why I have the convictions I do regarding the shared place I believe women have to fulfill their calling in ministry to God and others.
I know I have worked through at various times the theological, philosophical and cultural considerations to come to those convictions.
I could reiterate most of them in a conversation…at least on a good day. In fact if I had written this blog when first asked I’m sure that is what you would now be reading.
But something happened in the meantime. My Mom passed away.
We should have a clear theological and philosophical basis for our convictions. With that understood my observation is that it is in the crucible of relationships and experiences that those convictions get fleshed out.
In fact if they are not reinforced in real life they simply become items of mental assent that do not pragmatically influence our lives.
So when we consider the shared place women have to fulfill their ministry to God and others actual persons come to mind, none more than my mother, Ruth Wells.
My Mom was not necessarily concerned about having a platform on which to publicly proclaim her biblical insights nor was she going to serve at many decision making tables. That said she certainly would have expected that women so called would have the freedom to do so.
She strongly believed in the Spirit’s gifts being expressed through both God’s daughters and sons.
If the evangelist was a women named Eunice or the worship leader’s name was Ruby that was great. Thus Mom’s daughters and granddaughters are free to be whoever God wants them to be.
Mom herself was of a generation where women were expected to marry, have children and make sure they were raised with love and discipline. She did all those admirably. Yet in the mid-1960’s with five young children economic circumstances and her own strong sense of responsibility motivated her to work full time. Nevertheless that did not stop her from volunteering in ministry at our church and run an open house full of hospitality and nonstop food. All that while helping children and eventually grandchildren to do their homework and get to their school and music lessons and sporting events.
This life of sacrificial service was rooted in the deep relationships of a close knit Danish immigrant community.
Her mother passed away when she and her two sisters were all eight and under. Their family’s relatives and the community rallied around her father and the girls. On immigrant farms in the 1930’s and 40’s there wasn’t a lot of debates regarding roles and responsibilities especially when tragedy had come knocking and survival was at stake. Work got done by young and old, men and women. Family looked after family, neighbor looked after neighbor.
Those values of mutual respect, hard work, hospitality and love for God and others continued beyond the farm to a marriage, a family, a church and multiple relationships.
As one man who knew my Mom when he was a college student wrote, “Mom Wells will always be in our heart and our thoughts. I will never forget how this Angel took care of me when I was without a place to live. She fed me when I was hungry and gave me shelter. She truly was My Angel.”
No one had to tell my Mom she was free to minister as she was called. Who was going to tell her otherwise? Now anyone who knew her, understood there was steel under that velvet!
I pray for a whole new generation of Ruths.
Women whose calling by the Spirit is forged by a sense of love for God and others that causes them to tenaciously do what they are called to do whatever anyone else says… all with solid theology and a good philosophy of ministry of course!