by René Allen
On May 7, I was delighted to be able to attend the by design event “Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth; Satisfy Your Soul,” having finally been able to gather in person. The host church was very hospitable and the speaker, Dr. Gina Zurlo from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, did not disappoint! The content was surprising in both its depth and presentation.
At the “Satisfy” events, we are used to hearing soul-stirring stories with sprinkles of mirth. However, this year was like going to the wedding in Cana where Jesus turned water into wine and the host was complimented for serving the best wine at the end! The content was challenging, but incredibly important. We learned that here and in many countries, women are invisible. We were treated to the stories of Christian women in many countries who are challenging the status quo, using their skills and their faith to bring equality and opportunity to their communities.
Gina brought social science to bear in the realm of real mission. She led with data rich concepts from the United Nations Human Development Report and tied this data to how women use their natural inclination toward relationship to bring female perspective and presence to the head of the table where true leadership decisions are made. We love to have friends and to nurture those relationships. We were challenged to see friendship as mission and to use hospitality as a friendship-builder to bring social justice from the gospel! We were challenged to ensure that female perspective is brought to bear in leadership, peace-building, and ecological theology and activism.
- Church leadership – lacks female personnel, presence, or perspective. In many places, women are considered biologically inferior and useless except for manual labor due to societal constructs and conventions. With the truth of the gospel, these social constructs can be corrected and give women equal rights and opportunity.
- Peace-building – challenges occur when men fight in wars. Women and children suffer, with rapes and kidnappings being common – exacerbating current inequalities. Complete trauma therapy is needed to bring the healing of the gospel to women in these areas.
- Ecological theology and activism – Ecological changes disproportionately affect women. For example, women are the main water carriers in many countries, and when tides rise (think global warming), they have to walk farther to get to fresh water. “Ecofeminist” theologians are addressing these issues as a working out of their faith.
Why should we care about what women on the other side of the world are dealing with? We are a part of the global village, and there is a spiritual connection to our being part of God’s Creation. Their Father is our Father and they are part of our Family. He calls us to justice for the oppressed.
We must affirm our place at the table in all these areas to speed up the cultural and social acceptance of our equality with men. God intended men and women to work together, side by side.
For “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)
We all – men and women – need to work in tandem for the sake of the gospel. This will bring peace and ecological and physical security issues to the forefront.
Through missional friendship, leadership roles, peace-building, and ecological activism, we will bring the gospel of peace to those who’ve been denied for so long!
*Click here to see pictures from “Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth; Satisfy Your Soul” 2022.
“The teaching was eye-opening and thought-provoking. Thank you for making it an evening of worship and encouragement!”
– Carol from Hope Community Church
“The content on Saturday evening was pretty heavy and very, very good! I think more of us in the west need a wakeup call. But it’s also hard to know what to do with all that information … I loved that she recommended a documentary and some women and movements to research. I’d love to watch with other women at my church and discuss and talk about how to be agents of change rather than just gatherers of knowledge.”
– Krisie from 1st CC of Hamilton
“Thank you so much! It was amazing. I left feeling intrigued, inspired, and eager to learn more!”
We hope you’ve been challenged and encouraged by what René had to share. And you may be wondering … “Where do we go from here? How can we help?” Below are some resources to help you get started.
UN Women for data, resources, ways to get involved globally
Velvet Ashes links Christian women worldwide involved in mission
WomenStats Project for easy-to-read maps on the status of women worldwide
René Allen’s love for God and His Word brings hope, encouragement and joy into her mentoring and women’s ministries. As a pastor’s wife, mom, bible study leader, life coach, author and mentor, her personal warmth and experience are used by the Holy Spirit to connect powerfully with believers and seekers alike. She and her husband have been in ministry for over thirty years with the past two decades in the New England area.