Women are indispensable for reaching the nations with the gospel. The International Mission Board has a long, rich history of women—like Lottie Moon in the late nineteenth century—figuring prominently in the effort to make Christ known among unreached peoples and places. And God is still using women in powerful ways to reach the nations today.
“Women are indispensable for reaching the nations with the gospel.”
Recently, I had the privilege of attending an IMB women’s missions conference in Southeast Asia. More than 140 women gathered to learn from each other, celebrate successes, share resources, and strengthen our network of global women. Single and married women of various ages shared short, powerful talks throughout the two-day meeting about how God is using women to reach the nations. Here are nine topics these leading missions practitioners discussed.
Women who serve cross-culturally in missions are often strong leaders who share the gospel, disciple new believers, lead Bible studies in multiple languages, care for orphans, care for trafficked victims, work in medical clinics, and see the world changed. Women are actively involved in church-planting teams. Their leadership and contributions are significant and highly valued. Ongoing training and mentoring in leadership is something the IMB not only offers but strongly encourages.
Hospitality is valued over entertaining. These women open their homes often, serve countless cups of tea or coffee, and share their lives for the sake of the gospel. Their priority is to have a home that warmly welcomes “the least of these” because they view their homes as blessings that God has provided for the purpose of blessing others.
(3) Language and Culture
Women who thrive on the mission field never stop learning, and they have a level of humility that is noteworthy. Even after decades on the field, they continue to ask questions, study language, and acknowledge that they still have much to learn.
One speaker at the conference repeatedly encouraged others to “make a plan for evangelism and do the work of an evangelist.” Women serving in all different phases of church planting are still setting aside time to create an intentional, often written, plan for evangelism and hold each other accountable. They can tell you the names of the people they are praying for daily, and they can share with you their plan to share the gospel with them.
Women on mission train the nations to reach the nations. They aren’t satisfied with only sharing the gospel and seeing new converts. They teach those they disciple to share the gospel and to own the Great Commission for themselves.
Orality is a lifestyle of dependence on nonprint forms of communication. It’s how billions of people learn and communicate. Women study orality and make plans to get the Word of God to the billions of people around the world who prefer oral forms of communication and learning. They memorize story sets and often practice out loud to ensure that the gospel is presented clearly and accurately through Bible stories. Yet, they aren’t satisfied with presenting only a few stories. The end goal is to get the full Word of God to those who haven’t heard.
(7) The Role of Women
Similar to conversations being held all around the world, women in missions are studying the role of women in the early church and today. They look at the ways women throughout the Bible and church history served and led and took part in the missionary task. They take time to celebrate the ways that God has called and equipped women to reach the nations all throughout history.
“The next Lottie Moon may be serving in obscurity somewhere around the world, but obscurity never means insignificance from God’s viewpoint.”
(8) Parenting and Family
Many who have been serving faithfully around the world see parenting as one of the key ways God is using them to reach the nations. They emphasize “families reaching families” and start training their kids at young ages to intentionally serve and share the gospel. They often adjust their families’ schedules to match the context in which they live so they are available to meet with local friends at culturally appropriate times. Single women often minister closely alongside families and view their team as “one large family.”
(9) The Impact of the Word of God
Women serving with IMB acknowledge the unspeakable power of the Word of God and their own powerlessness without it. They realize that they are, and must be, good theologians. They acknowledge that they must know how to study and interpret the Word of God and determine to proclaim it boldly. They confess that their personal time in the Word and prayer is absolutely essential for their lives and ministries.
Perhaps the most important takeaway from our time together was the mutual encouragement of seeing how God is actively using women in profound ways to advance his kingdom. It was clear at this conference that the lives and ministries of IMB women around the world are flourishing. The next Lottie Moon may be serving in obscurity somewhere around the world, but obscurity never means insignificance from God’s viewpoint.
Cyndi Logsdon spent twelve years living in a predominantly Muslim nation where she raised two daughters, shared the gospel, discipled women, and drank lots and lots and lots of tea. You can follow her on Twitter.