Today I am a wife, mom, and minister. I love how God has used people along my journey to help me become the woman I am today. I want to share with you a little history of my life and highlight two amazing women that God used to help shape my life.
Growing up was difficult emotionally at times. My mother had sickle cell disease. This caused her to be chronically low in oxygen damaging nerves and organs. She was in and out of the hospital regularly. Whatever time I had with her when she was not in pain I cherished. My sister, being 9 years older, was already into her teen years by the time I went into elementary school. My father worked 2nd shift from 4pm to midnight. Even though I had family I often felt alone while at home.
In the summer my sister and I would get to travel to Chattanooga to stay with family. We affectionately called my grandmother Big Mama. She grew up in North Georgia. She was born in the 1920’s and would tell us stories of growing up as a multi-racial black woman in the South. She shared stories of hardship and stories of victory. She always shared her faith in Jesus with us and poured so much wisdom into my sister and myself. We loved our time with her in the summers. We would also often spend the night in the summer time with my Aunty Beverly and Uncle Ray. They always made us feel so welcome and it was nice to have cousins to hang out with from time to time in the summer.
My mother passed away when I was 9 years old. My sister had already moved out of the house at that time. My grandmother passed away 5 years later. I felt so lost. Now it was just my dad and I trying to navigate this new life. I found myself asking, how do I become a woman without any women to talk to? I prayed to God often because my grandmother and aunt shared their faith with me. My parents didn’t go to church but I knew Jesus was real because of their testimonies.
One weekend I got to visit a church as a teenager and the preacher gave an altar call for salvation. I believed in Jesus but had never prayed to accept Him as Lord. I went up to pray the prayer of salvation and from that moment on I could clearly see the Lord had been with me the whole time.
I think because I didn’t “grow up” in the church I never encountered any resistance from people concerning women in ministry. What I knew is I had two women, my grandmother and my Aunty Beverly, who were strong in their faith teach me about Jesus and the Word of God. If it wasn’t for them I’m not sure where I’d be today. In my early 20’s I learned the road for women in ministry can be hard. I always envisioned the church calling the lost into salvation, breaking the bonds of racism, hate, sexism… ALL sin.
As a young adult, I was able to reconnect with Aunty Beverly. In many ways she has been a mother to me. She is so encouraging and loving not only to me, but also to my husband and children. She listens to me during the good and the bad times. She celebrates my wins and is encouraging through the losses. Aunty Beverly puts God first in every area of her life sending me encouraging scriptures multiple times a week. She has never given up on me even through my immaturity of dealing with hurt and pain from my childhood and teen years when I was young. She and Uncle Ray have loved me EVERY step of the way. She is a great woman of faith that I hope to be like one day.
As I write this I think about the many different accounts where Jesus commissioned people to proclaim His Word regardless of race, social class or even gender. I think of the Samaritan woman who went back to her town sharing about her powerful encounter with Jesus. I also think about how the first gentile church in Acts, how God took people from all walks of life to help build the church in Antioch.
The journey for women in society and even the church has not been an easy one but God has always used women for His glory to help change and build all elements of society.
Let’s be intentional to change the story for women around us. Let’s encourage them in their gifts and calling. Let’s speak blessings and life to them when others don’t. You never know who you will lead to Jesus or the impact they may have for God’s glory.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)