The Role of Women in Building the Church

by Dr. (Mrs.) Omobukola Olaoye | In the new testament……God used these less known women to speak out, lead, and support people’s call to repentance. These women also had issues, hence, suffered some form of pain while serving. Yet, the scripture shared their gain, and reward, Acts 21:8-9 & Matthew 9:18–26 (image: ECWA Women at ECWA USA International Conference, Chicago, IL, July 20, 2018).

The Greek word for ‘church’ ekklesia relates to a called-out assembly (Ek = out of, Kaleo= to call). In as much as there was no ‘church’ in the old testament, there were the ‘called out’ that assembled in the wilderness. Abram was called out to go to the promised land – Canaan, and God used the services of Moses to lead the called-out people (Israel) from Egypt to Canaan. Apostle Stephen made reference to God’s called out people in the wilderness on their journey to Canaan. Acts 7:37-38  – 37 “This is the Moses who told the Israelis, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people.38 He was in the assembly in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living words to pass on to us.

 The Mandate

Gen 6: 5 -5 The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.

In the days of Noah, there was wickedness, evil, corruption, and violence, hence a mandated call for someone to speak up, and a call for repentance.

No king ruled in Israel after Samson died in Judges 16, until the time of Eli in 1st Samuel. The incidence of evil in Judges 19 called for someone to speak up, and a call for repentance. Judges 19: 30 Everyone who saw it was saying to one another, “Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelite’s came up out of Egypt. Just imagine! We must do something! So speak up!”

There was a call for repentance through true fasting in Isaiah 58:1 – “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.”

Aside from the popular women such as Deborah, Esther, Ruth, and Abigail in the old testament, there were other women that were less popular whom God used to speak out, to lead, and to support people’s call to repentance.  These women had issues, thus suffered some form of pain while serving. However, the scripture shared their gain, and reward. Table 1 below shows a few of the less popular women in the Old Testament by their marital status.

Table 1. Less popular women in the Old Testament by their marital status.

Unmarried The Pain The Gain
Rahab
Joshua 2:1, 3; 6:17-25
Current Stigma:
-`Prostitute
– Betrayer of her own people
Mentioned in the Hall of Faith –
Hebrews 11:31
James 2:25 – Rahab was considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction.
Married The Pain The Gain
Noah’s Wife, Son’s Wife –
Genesis 9
– Nameless
– Scorned during the preaching, and
-Loneliness after the flood
1 Peter 3:20 – God’s patience while Noah was building the ark is a reference point today.
Rahab Past Stigma:
-`Prostitute
– Betrayer of her own people
Rahab married Salmon and they had a son named Bo’ oz. Bo’oz’s son was Obed and Obed’s son was Jesse, the father of King David. – the line of Jesus – Matthew 1:5
Jehosheba, wife of Jehoiada the priest. She was the daughter of King Jehoram and Queen Athaliah. As well as a sister of Ahaziah, (Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel who murdered her grandchildren, thus Jehosheba was the granddaughter of Ahab and Jezebel.) Jehosheba took Joash (her Nephew) the son of Ahaziah, stole him away, and hid him for 6 years. II Kings 11 – Little-known woman,
– Surrounded by ungodly family members,
– The sorrow of losing so many nephews killed by her mother, and
– A complicated life.
Her courage preserved the royal line of David through which Jesus came. She is a point of reference for good today.
Widowed The Pain The Gain
Widow of Zarephath – fed Elijah – man of God who was ministering to the children of Israel. 1 Kings 17:7-16 – Poor
– Hopeless
– Helpless
Jesus recognized and mentioned her faith and work. – Luke 4:26
Unknown Marital Status The Pain The Gain
Woman of Thebez  – killed Abimelech, bold/courageous, was at the war front.

Judges 9:50-57; 2 Samuel 11:21

– A mere unknown woman,
– At the war front
– High risk
– Hard work
Made history, hence, an example
Wisehearted Women -These skillful women with willing hearts labored as unto the Lord. Gave their treasures, time and talents ungrudgingly for the completion of God’s Tabernacle through Moses in the wilderness.

Exodus 35:22-29

 

– Nameless,

– sacrifice,

– hard work

 

Made history, hence, an example

Tabernacle Women – Made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.

Exodus 38:8

– Nameless

– sacrifice

– hard work

Made history, hence, an example

In the new  testament during the time of Jesus, people gathered in Synagogues and temples. Luke 4:16 – He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.

John the Baptist called for repentance due to wickedness, evil, corruption, and violence at that time.

Matthew 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matthew 4:17 “ From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Mark 1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel.”

Similarly, in the New Testament, aside from the popular women such as Mary, Elizabeth, Dorcas, Table 2 below shows a few of these less popular women by their marital status. God used these less known women to speak out, lead, and support people’s call to repentance.  These women also had issues, hence, suffered some form of pain while serving. Yet, the scripture shared their gain, and reward.

Table 2. Less popular women in the New Testament by their marital status.

Unmarried The Pain The Gain
Daughters of Phillip the Evangelist

These four single young women had the gift of prophecy. They represent boldness, courage and a willingness to step out for the Lord no matter what season of life. –  Acts 21:8-9

– Nameless Their ministry is mentioned in the Book of Acts.
 

Jairus’s daughter was dead – Matthew 9:18–26

 

 

– Hopeless

However, God used her resurrection to bring praise to His name.

Reference point today

Married The Pain The Gain
Priscilla – co minister with her husband Aquila as Tent Makers. An effective mentor to Apollos. – Acts 18:2 – Possibly expelled from Rome for Christ

– Sacrificed time from their business

Mentioned today as a good example.
Salome – wife of Zebedee (Matthew 27:56), the mother of James and John that requested they sit in places of honor in the kingdom (Matthew 20:20–21), & a female follower of Jesus. One of the women watching when Jesus was being crucified—with other women (Mark 15:40). Together to anoint Jesus on the 3rd day (Mark 16:1–8). Only Mark mentioned her by name. – The anxiety

– pain from losing Jesus

– Almost unknown

Mentioned today as a good example.
Widowed The Pain The Gain
The Samaritan Woman – The woman at the well. Able to confront her past truthfully and transform into a motivating mouthpiece for the Lord. – John 4 – Her past was loaded She became one of the first mass evangelists for Jesus Christ.
Widow of Nain – her son was raised from the dead. Luke 7:11-18 – The pain
– The loss
– The grieve
Her life became a testimony and a source of praise to God
The Widow’s Mite – who gave her all in the temple that Jesus commended. – Luke 21:1-4 – The hopelessness Jesus recognized and mentioned her faith and work
Unknown The Pain The Gain
Syro-Phoenician Woman – The Canaanite woman who begged as a dog.

Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30

– Nameless Great faith that Jesus recognized.

The power of such resilience needed in building the church of God today.

Present and Future – Building Solid ECWA Churches in the U.S.

The Role of Women in Building the Church

ECWA Women at ECWA USA International Conference, Lanham, MD, June 21, 2014

The church started at Pentecost, after Jesus ascended, and was referred to as the body of Christ. (Ephesians 1:22–23; Colossians 1:18).

The Mandate

Due to continuous wickedness, evil, corruption, and violence in the world today, there is a need to speak up, and for action to repentance.

Matthew 24:37 – “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”

Matthew 28:18-20 – The great commission – 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Mark 16:15: And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

2 Corinthians 5:11-21 – The Ministry of Reconciliation

Today, God, regardless of our marital status, God is looking to use our services to speak out, lead, and support His ministry of reconciling people to Himself as we call them to repentance.  We may have issues like the less known women referenced in both the old and new testament, we may suffer some form of pain while serving. Yet, the scripture encourages us that there is gain and reward for us sometime in the future.

Pain

As discussed so far, women may be experiencing or may experience some of the challenges below or more.

– Current or past stigma/loaded past

– Nameless and unknown/little-known

– Scorned because of Christ

– Lonely, poor, hopeless, helpless

– Surrounded by ungodly family members

– Sorrow, grieve, and pain from loss of loved ones

– A complicated life

– At the war front– in a high risk and very challenging situation

– Working hard

– Sacrificing and giving on several ends

– Possibly expelled/disowned for the sake of Christ, and

– Anxious

We are called to work, give, sacrifice, reach, touch and transform the body of Christ

Gain

Similarly, some of the rewards include, but not limited to.

– Being considered righteous

– God exercising patience with unbelievers because of us

– Making history as a point of reference/good example

– Having a life of testimony and being a source of praise to God, and

– Possessing the power of resilience needed in building the church of God.

Conclusion

We will be raising Godly lineage and preserving posterity through our courage –  Psalm 144:12 – Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. Psalm 128:3 – Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children (boy/girl, young man/young lady) will be like olive shoots around your table.

We will be mentioned/recognized by the only One who matters – for evangelism, ministry, faith and good works, hence, reward us in heaven for joining Him in the ministry of reconciliation.

Therefore, we need to do the little we can. The women in the Old and New testament did not do it all, they just did their own part and passed the baton on. What are we doing that others can learn and pick from?

Dr. (Mrs) Bukky OlaoyeDr. (Mrs.) Omobukola Olaoye is a Home Healthcare Quality & Management Consultant; Administrator for A Premium Healthcare Solution, Financial Director of ECWA USA DCC.