Posted by: orquideablanca | October 8, 2008

Women in the World Missions – by Elisabeth Elliot

Photo by Planet Love.

Today strident female voices are raised to remind us, shrilly and ad nauseam, that women are equal with men. But such a question has never arisen in connection with the history of Christian missions. In fact, for many years, far from being excluded, women constituted the majority among foreign missionaries.

Missionary, of course, is a term which does not occur in the Bible. I like the word witness, and it is a good, biblical word meaning someone who has seen something. The virgin Mary saw an angel and heard his word and committed herself irretrievably when she said, ”Behold the handmaid of the Lord.” This decision meant sacrifice–the giving up of her reputation and, for all she knew then, of her marriage and her own cherished plans. “Be it unto me according to thy word.” She knew the word was from God, and she put her life on the line because of it. The thing God was asking her to do, let us not forget, was a thing that only a woman could do.

The early history of the Church mentions other women who witnessed–by ministering to Christ during his earthly work, cooking for him, probably, making a bed, providing clothes and washing them–women who were willing and glad to do whatever he needed to have done. (And some of you who despise that sort of work–would you do it if it was for him? “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,” Jesus said, “ye have done it unto me.”) There was Priscilla, coadjutor of the Apostle Paul. There was a businesswoman named Lydia who opened her heart to what was said and then opened her home to those who said it. There must have been thousands of women like these who did what lay in their power to do because with all their hearts they wanted to do it. They had seen something; they had heard a word; they knew their responsibility.

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