Reaching & Teaching is based on a foundational conviction: that the Church is both the means and the end of the Great Commission. In other words, it is only as churches around the world are strengthened that true disciples can be formed. These church-strengthening efforts include theological training for pastors, character development among leaders, and church-planting efforts from our long-term workers. But also essential to the work of the Church is women who are trained in biblical literacy.
A long-term missionary in the Middle East recently commented that the only request he hears more than the need for pastoral training, is theological training for women. His statement is indicative of a broader reality around the world: women are asking for more training on how to study, interpret, and teach the Bible. Why is this? While the answer to that question is multi-faceted, one of the most significant reasons is that women in many communities around the world have had less access to Biblical training than the men around them—and they are hungry for the Word of God. Many sisters are in cultural settings where they have very little interaction with men in their church, and therefore have even fewer opportunities to learn from the Biblical and theological training these men may be receiving.
Even more, some women might not believe that they even have the capacity to interpret the Scriptures. I will never forget a Bible Study I got to be a part of in the Northern part of India, walking through the book of Colossians with a group of believing women. As we began to break down the interpretation and application in the first chapter of the book, one of them commented, “We didn’t know that you could read the Bible and actually understand it!” My heart broke for these ladies as I thought about what they had not yet received—and rejoiced that God was providing ways for them to learn more of His Word with the help of His Holy Spirit.
When it comes to theological training for women, we’re not talking about a gender competition; rather, it’s a matter of faithfulness to equip all the saints for the work of ministry, so that we may all attain to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Reaching & Teaching is joyfully complementarian1 and sees God’s good design in what he has established for the roles of men and women in the church and in the home. As such, we recognize that the responsibility to teach men and women together, and preach to the whole church gathered, is reserved for qualified men (1 Tim 2:12).
But equally important, we recognize that biblically faithful complementarianism identifies women as fellow image-bearers, co-heirs in the grace of life, and equally accountable to the Lord for how they use their life, their minds, and their Bibles. Therefore, we labor to train Christian women in communities around the world who can faithfully handle God’s Word and train others to understand and obey the Scriptures.
This desire to equip women with the tools necessary to study their Bible and make disciples comes straight from the pages of Scripture. There we find God’s vision for women who know their Lord and know His Word. Women who aren’t led astray by various sins or easily persuaded by false teaching (2 Timothy 3:6-7). Women who faithfully make disciples of younger women and children in their churches and communities (Titus 2:3-5). Women who are strong enough to submit to God’s good plan for them in the church and in the home (1 Peter 3:1-6). Women who use sound doctrine to gently correct those who fall into error (Acts 18:26). Women who delight in the Word and speak words of wisdom and truth to all those around them (Proverbs 31:26). Women who use their Godly wisdom and discernment to save a community from harm (2 Samuel 20:16-22). This is the vision that God has for his daughters, and these are the women we long to see filling the pews of churches around the world.
To this end, we are working diligently to develop pathways for women in the States to use their resources, teaching gifts, and love for the church to serve their sisters overseas. Through short-term, mid-term and long-term opportunities, our desire is for women around the world to grow in their vision and ability to make disciples in their own communities and crossing cultures. We pray that in all these efforts, Jesus would be seen as more glorious, more precious, and more worthy in the eyes of each sister around the world.
1Complementarianism is the theological view that states that men and women are created equal in their being and personhood, but are given different but complementary functions in the home, family and church.