Typical “Women’s Ministry” Fails Women

Readers,

I am absolutely fed up with typical women’s ministry as it’s practiced in church settings. Typical women’s ministry is best understood as groups of women who gather together to discuss their difficulties as mothers and wives. Or, we’re subjected to Scripture study of very specific books like “Ruth” and “Esther” and the primary idea to be grasped is that we have to be Godly women, wait on the right man, and our Boaz will come along eventually. 

Too often, women’s ministry encompasses the following topics:

  1. How to best support your husband as he leads you and the family
  2. How to be a Godly mother
  3. How to balance your time and your duties in the home
  4. How to serve at the church (typically behind the scenes and with children, if there’s a children’s ministry)

In case people don’t know, not all women are wives and mothers. Some of us don’t even want to be wives and mothers. That does not diminish our womanhood or femininity. We’re not incomplete as women because we’re single and childless. We are able to offer just as much to the kingdom of God as any man, no matter our marital status or the state of our wombs. It is not the end goal of a woman’s life to be married and have children. That is a patriarchal way of thinking. Tear it down.

Let’s consider the multiple ways that the Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles treated women. First and foremost, Jesus Christ is the best feminist ever. He fully supports equality between the sexes. A man is not greater than a woman. A woman is not greater than a man. Both equally reflect the image of God. Both have value and purpose in this life. We see how Jesus responds to women multiple times throughout Scripture, whether that’s saving the woman caught in adultery,  gently forgiving the woman with several husbands, showing kindness toward the Gentile woman with great faith, and healing Mary Magdalene of all of her demons and accepting her as one of His followers. By follower, I mean that she quite literally followed Jesus, right alongside Peter and John. She left everything she knew to serve Jesus and followed Him. Luke 8 tells of the several women who financially supported Jesus’ ministry. Clearly, the Lord loves women!

Now, as far as His apostles go, there is often talk of the Apostle Paul being misogynistic and backward in his way of thinking about women. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Everything that the Apostle Paul had to say about women must be understood in the proper cultural context. For example, when Paul said that women should “remain silent” in the church, he did not mean that women should literally never speak. He was pointing out a problem that happened during church services. Women would hear Paul preach and, during the service, ask their husbands what he meant. Paul says that this should be reserved for the home, because they were simply interrupting the service and distracting everyone.

The Apostle Paul is the one who famously said, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” – Galatians 3:28. Here, Paul is not saying that the differences between men and women don’t matter, or that we have no differences, but he is saying that the old way of thinking, the patriarchal way of thinking, has been abolished by Christ’s sacrifice. In heaven, we are all equal and because we are citizens of heaven living on Earth, we must be equal here as well.

Let’s consider then how we should approach women’s ministry. What can and should women contribute to the King’s work on Earth? Well, pretty much everything. Although I agree with Scripture’s prohibition regarding women serving as senior pastors, women can serve in virtually any context. Worship leader? Yup. Small group leader? Definitely. Missionary? Yes, please! We need more of you on the mission field. Outreach and evangelism? Absolutely. Prayer coordinator? No doubt.

You get the idea.

I want to be a part of a women’s ministry that is focused on training women to be better image bearers of Christ. I want to be taught evangelism. I want someone to show me the best ways to do outreach. I want to be trained as a missionary! Let’s gather together and talk about theology, doctrine, and apologetics. Let’s discuss how we can serve the world with our incredible gifts as women of God. Let’s talk about our own struggles with pornography. Can we get into how hard it is for WOMEN to be sexually pure?

Ladies, we are not defined by a ring on our finger or a baby on our hip! We are defined by Christ Jesus alone and we have as much responsibility to bring more of God’s kingdom on earth as any man. We will be held accountable for our actions on earth and I’m not just talking about sin. When we behold the face of Jesus, the last thing we want is to ask ourselves, “Why didn’t I do more for Him?” You are a Kingdom-chaser and a warrior for Christ. Let’s start acting like that, husband or no husband.

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

 

 

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Rosalie Avila’s Suicide (My Story)

A few days ago, a young girl named Rosalie Avila committed suicide. She was 13 years old. According to news sources, she ended her life because of constant bullying from fellow students at her school. She documented each act of verbal violence every day in her journal. Two months before her death, she began cutting herself and was receiving therapy. In her suicide note, she apologized to her mother, knowing that she would find her dead in her room.

A young girl killed herself because other kids bullied her. I have so many questions and feelings.

  1. Why didn’t the school do more?
  2. Could the parents have done more?
  3. Why does this keep happening?

I’m left dumbstruck, gobsmacked, and disturbed. The older I get, the younger the kids are who kill themselves. When I was 13, the thought of suicide never entered my head. I don’t think I had ever thought about it, even as a concept. I had heard of ancient people who committed suicide, but I had never known someone who had committed this act of violence against themselves.

My initial thoughts on Rosalie Avila is that she did not know the ramifications of her final actions. She did not actually know what she was doing. Her mental state was not clear and she was not in control of herself. At 13 years old, her insular academic world was her entire world. She could not picture a world outside of her school. She was not able to imagine a positive future for herself apart from her situation as a bullied child.

Therefore, she took her life. Personally, I believe that she’s rejoicing with the Lord right now. As she was a child, I believe God didn’t hold her to the standard that He holds adults to. Her brain couldn’t comprehend her actions. Now, 13-year olds can definitely have a beautiful, holy, childlike grasp of the Gospel, but that’s another conversation.

Ultimately, my heart breaks for this young Latina. She had an incredible future ahead of her. God created each and every person with a specific purpose and plan. It was NOT God’s will for Rosalie Avila to kill herself at 13 years old. He knew it would happen, but He hoped the whole time that she wouldn’t do this. He created her to serve Him, enjoy the beautiful world that He created, and bring others to a loving knowledge of Himself. I wish this beautiful Latina grew up to become a freedom fighter, fighting alongside me and others as we push forward toward God’s kingdom.

 

 

Personally, I’ve dealt with suicidal thoughts three times in my life. At ages 15, 17, and 23, I was tortured with unwanted suicidal thoughts. These thoughts bombarded my mind and I couldn’t free myself from them. Rosalie’s story could’ve been my story.

It took constant fighting against these thoughts to become somewhat free. But, I quickly realized that I wasn’t fighting against myself. These thoughts weren’t coming from my own brain. If my brain produced these thoughts on its own, I would welcome them. I would not be disgusted or scared of them if they were of my own creation. The human being wants to survive. We have natural survival instincts that automatically kick in whenever our lives are threatened, or are perceived to be at risk.

These suicidal thoughts came from the prince of darkness, Satan. I began fighting Satan, not just the thoughts. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” – Ephesians 6:12 

Clearly the Word tells us that we fight Satan, not others and certainly not ourselves! When a suicidal or negative thought came into my head, I would combat it with the truth. What is the truth? The Bible. I literally forced myself to read an uplifting verse in the Bible or to sing Christian worship songs in my head. This helped immensely. I took every thought into captivity, as the Word tells us to do.

“…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” – II Corinthians 10:5

Practically, there are several things you can do when you find yourself targeted by Satan with suicidal or negative thoughts. I’m not a mental health counselor, but these are the practices that have helped me and brought me further onto this path of divine healing.

  1. First and foremost, tell a trusted person about your thoughts. The number one thing that Satan wants to do during this time is isolate you and make you think you’re crazy. Fight against that desire to isolate yourself. That comes from Satan. It will make your situation worse if you isolate yourself.
  2. Bring these thoughts to God Himself. He is not surprised by these thoughts. He knew you would have them before you were even born! He wants you to ask Him for help. He will send His angels to guard you and protect you from the demons that are attacking your mind. “For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways.” – Psalm 91:11
  3. Do exactly what I described a few paragraphs above. Replace these intrusive thoughts with Scripture and worship lyrics. This will truly help you!
  4. Seek therapy, spiritual counseling, and/or mentoring. There is absolutely nothing wrong with therapy. God loves it! It’s so biblical to seek help from others. It doesn’t mean you are insane or weird if you have a therapist. Honestly, so many issues around the world would be solved if every person received therapy for their problems.
  5. Don’t give up. My number one piece of advice is NEVER give up! Satan wants to make you think your life is over, you have no future, you’re crazy, no one loves you, and you’re worthless. LIES! ALL LIES! This is why we need to know Scripture because Scripture tells us the opposite. God loves us, we have a bright future in Him, and we are worth much because Christ died and rose for us.

If you ever need to talk to someone, I’m great to talk to about these things. These issues are more common than you think, so there’s no shame in coming forth about them.

 

Here’s a lifeline you can call if you feel you need immediate help (or call 911): 1-800-273-8255

They even have an online chat if you can’t talk by phone for whatever reason.

 

Be blessed. Be strengthened in Christ’s love for you. Be well.

 

Love,

 

Gabby G.

When God Diverts Our Path (Literally)

This morning, I woke up so early to get to two doctor’s appointments. I rushed around the city, hopping on and off of buses, lugging around my heavy bag, and just wishing I could get back to my apartment.

But, God had other plans. Of course!!

As I made my way home, carrying my groceries and overnight bag (I had a sleepover last night), I was so consumed with trying to access RZIM’s live stream of Nabeel Qureshi’s funeral that I got on the wrong train. Realizing my mistake, I jumped off and stood somewhere on the street, waiting for the funeral service to load on my phone.

It turns out I was standing outside of a McDonald’s. There I saw a homeless woman with a sign, Diana. I felt God say to my heart, “Yes, you don’t want to miss this funeral live stream, but there is a woman who needs love.” 

I ended up buying her and her friend, Tyrone, a meal, sitting with them and talking about the crazy hurricanes and crazier Donald Trump. We just shared time and food together. I didn’t pester them with questions about their condition as homeless people. We just talked like people, humans, friends. As they left, Tyrone said, “Gabrielle. I’ll never forget that name.” 

 

Earlier that day, I was hungry and wanted to get a bagel from this deli, but I had no cash. Knowing that Dunkin’ Donuts would take my card for a $2.00 purchase, I went there and bought a bagel. A man, who used to be Muslim, sat down as I killed time by reading my Bible. He began preaching to me and encouraging me, reminding me that God will keep His promises. He will NEVER lie or not keep them. He will never forsake me. I needed that.

 

If I had gotten on the right train, if I had had cash on me, I would not have had these experiences. God let this happen so I could be ministered to and so I could minister to others.

 

Praise God.

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

My Thorn

My dreams often times run wild and free. My dreams…what are they? From where do they come? Is it just me in there? Or does my Father sculpt them? Perhaps it’s both blended together. God’s influence and my talents working as one. That’s the ideal, but is it true for me?

My worst enemy will always be me. Pulling against Him as He extracts the rotten growth. Those roots run deep. They’ve woven themselves around my heart and traveled between the curves in my brain. I pray and wait for Him to set me free.

But perhaps this is just my particular thorn. Everyone’s got one, I’m sure of that. When I grasp the rose that is God’s heart, my thorn cuts deeper in my palm, but I squeeze tighter. Regardless of the pain I let the blood trickle down. It’s not mine. It’s His. It cleans me as I hold on. My thorn forms the crown He wore.

I was blessed by my Lord with a big heart. It burdens me as I live, move, and have my being. This heart of mine, it isn’t mine anymore. I gave that ownership to another, to the Only. A heart for His purposes must not be filthy; it must be purified. But, it must always be broken.

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

Using Freedom as License to Sin

Hey dear readers,

Lord, so many things have happened lately around the world. My heart mourns for those in South Asia and Texas who are suffering the ramifications of devastating flooding.

 

This morning’s post is going to be about something entirely different. It’s more personal, more painful. You all know I’m a Christian and I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Brother, and Heavenly Husband. I love Him so much and I want to do the right thing, but here’s something I’ve learned about myself recently.

 

I struggle with legalism. Yes, I know we all tend to be a bit legalistic, but my legalism was pretty bad.

 

From ages 15-23, I operated under a legal system in relation to God. I would force myself to do “good things” because I wanted to be good. I wanted Abba to love me more. I wanted to be a perfect Christian. As a result of this thinking, I would come into the presence of God without any sense of freedom and hardly from the posture of a loved child. It was always fear. I always felt like I was coming up short.

 

Lately, God has completely broken that. It honestly feels as if I’m getting to know God for the first time! I love it and am so grateful that He broke my legalism down. I remember the night He did this. It was two Sundays ago and I read Romans chapter 4 before bedtime. I can only explain what happened next as the Holy Spirit overcoming me, but all of a sudden I began weeping, sobbing, crying, llorando like never before. Suddenly I realized how much God loves me. Me! How He gave Christ for us and it is through faith alone in CHRIST’S work on the cross that we have forgiveness of sins and freedom. Now we can call Him, Abba Father!

 

Before this revelation, I went a bit wild for a few weeks. I’m not ashamed to admit it, because it was necessary for God to show me how a wild lifestyle was not the answer. I drank too much, watched inappropriate things on my computer, and considered having sex with an almost 40-year old man who certainly doesn’t love God. I literally considered it. It wasn’t just a passing thought. I was mere steps away from planning a tryst with this man.

I did this all in the name of freedom. Oh, since Christ loves us and saves us, we can have fun now, right? It doesn’t matter what we do because it’s all about Christ. Right?

 

Nope.

 

I got so low because of my behavior that Christ ushered in that Sunday night, loved me with his presence, and brought me to my knees before Him. Day by day, He is teaching me what it looks like to have a love relationship with Him, not a relationship built on fear.

 

Readers, our freedom isn’t license to sin. But, sometimes, we get so off track that God Himself has to snatch us up from ourselves and teach us what true freedom looks like. I don’t have the answer for that, but I’m excited to learn more about my Abba. My loving, patient, forgiving Abba. ❤

Culture Can Be a Problem

Happy Monday, readers! Another day of life. Another day to help another soul on this journey. What a blessing.

As I took my mid-morning stroll around the neighborhood today, I listened to music on my iPhone, as I usually do. My music is an eclectic blend of Latin, Indian, Arabic, Christian, secular, and classical songs. The majority of the time, I listen to Christian music in English or Spanish and look around at the beautiful earth that God created. He made the bee that’s trying to stab me with its butt. He made the green grass that covers the ground, providing a cushion for my puppy’s paws. He constructed the clouds and forms them into various shapes for us. He’s pretty creative.

Since we’re made in His image, that means we’re also creative. God developed our minds to create insane things! I’m typing in a man-made language, on my laptop, while I’m connected to WiFi, as I sit on a couch in my house. All made by man. Incredible.

While I love creativity and thank God that He gave me the gift of writing, I recognize that our creativity can lead us down distorted paths to destruction. That escalated quickly. But, it’s really a problem for those of us who want to live Christ-glorifying lives. While I write words of life, another person is sitting on his/her laptop and writing erotic fiction which will channel lust in his/her readers. Some people sing worship songs that exalt Abba and others sing about sexual desires and activities they’d like to participate in with a total stranger they see on the dance floor. You see what I mean?

Now, typically it’s very easy for me to refrain from listening to sexual music. In fact, I refuse to listen to English pop songs if they have sexual undertones (which they typically do), but I’ve noticed something about my Spanish music choices. I’m half Puerto Rican which means I love Salsa and Bomba music, but I tend to enjoy my Dominican neighbors’ Bachata music as well. Listening to music in Spanish makes me feel connected to my culture and my Latino hermanos y hermanas (brothers and sisters). But, it becomes a problem when the sexual songs that the Latin music industry pumps out begin to reignite old flames of lust within me.

Let’s take a gander at this popular Latin song:

  1. The number one song in America is “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi (he sang at my mom’s friend’s wedding before he made it big #NoLie) and Daddy Yankee. Both of these Puerto Rican men are well known for their music and I was initially THRILLED to see two Rican men reach the number one spot on the charts! Yes! Representation! All good, right? Not quite.

“Despacito” infects our brains with its catchy tune and delightful rhyming, but the lyrics prove to be pretty dangerous to a person struggling with lust.

Spanish:

Despacito 
Quiero respirar tu cuello despacito 
Deja que te diga cosas al oído
Para que te acuerdes si no estás conmigo

Despacito
Quiero desnudarte a besos despacito
Firmo en las paredes de tu laberinto
Y hacer de tu cuerpo todo un manuscrito (sube, sube, sube)
(Sube, sube)

 

English:

Slowly
I want to breathe your neck slowly
Let me tell you things in your ears
So that you remember when you’re not with me
Slowly
I want to undress you with kisses slowly
Sign the walls of your labyrinth
And make your whole body a manuscript
Turn it up turn it up….. turn it up, turn it up

When a song has a catchy tune, it’s really hard to resist listening to it. It’s even harder when you feel pressured to engage in this practice because it’s ascribed to your culture. This blog post isn’t fully about the sexualization of Latin youth culture, because that would take ages to write, but I’ll touch on it here.

When you think of a Latin woman, what do you think of? Does this woman have a college degree? Is she kind, compassionate, Christ-serving, and humble? Or do you think of a curvaceous figure, a wild temper, and fiery passions? I’ll assume the latter. This stereotype occurs in our minds because of the way the worldwide media has portrayed Latinas.

We’re sexual objects. We exist for the pleasure of men. 

We may not outright say these things, but the songs we sing about Latin women say otherwise.

So, songs like “Despacito” are not just fun dance songs. They add to the painful and dangerous rhetoric that Latinas are only good for their bodies and that we enjoy being objectified in this way.

 

In addition to objectifying women, this song and countless others that are similar actually reignite old lusts that you may be trying to kill, with the help of the Holy Spirit. When you hear those sexual words, you may remember old trysts you had before you knew Christ. You may imagine dancing sexually with your crush to these songs. You may actually become physically aroused.

While walking around the neighborhood, listening to “Despacito”, “Safari”, “Propuesta Indecente”, “Solo Por Un Beso”, and “Hasta El Amanecer”, I began to slowly realize that the youth in my culture are hyper-sexualized. We are force fed these songs until we no longer need to be forced to enjoy them. We openly indulge in these sexual songs and we wonder why so many of our young girls are becoming pregnant and our young boys are becoming fathers before they turn 18. These songs have infected the culture so deeply that they are now synonymous with Latin culture. So, for a young Latina growing up in New York, I knew that to be Latina meant to be sexy, to dance, to wear tight clothes, and to be free with my sexuality, using it to emasculate men. These songs encourage that behavior. 

Because I follow Christ, the Holy Spirit in me rejects these songs and the portrayals of sexuality that they offer. Yet, breaking with them has been so difficult because they are indeed connected to my culture. Of course the Puerto Ricans of the 1960s would never have promoted a song like “Despacito”, but something has happened to the youth in these recent times. They are now dictating the future of our culture and it terrifies me.

I love culture and will always give a cultural practice the benefit of the doubt, unless it clearly goes against Scripture and human rights. We’re all different and that’s a thing to celebrate. But, my spiritual eyes have been opened to this aspect of my culture and even though it’s so enticing, I must break with it. In this respect, my culture is a problem. The Lord’s word supersedes Puerto Rican culture and I must honor Him first. I am Christian before I am Puerto Rican.

 

Blessings.

 

Gabrielle G.