Do you long to make a difference for Christ? Are you passionate about Jesus and his work in this world? Do you long to see wrongs righted, injustices redressed and the gospel lifted high? Do you believe God’s Spirit works through scripture to shape our lives and our work? These were the questions addressed at Christian for Biblical Equality’s (CBE) 2007 conference, “Seeking Justice and Loving Mercy.”
Christians from around the world gathered in Denver, Colorado, USA, to explore not only the biblical foundations of gift-based ministry, but also the biblical and theological basis for gender justice and Christian service. Speakers shared from their years of study and ministry, award-recipients were honored for their lives of courage and leadership and we joined in worship and prayer. Truly, we felt God’s presence grow stronger—and it came largely in the form of joy.
The “precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart” (Psalm 19:8). Why does joy accompany our gospel service in a fallen world? Why is redressing error, injustices and gender inequities accompanied by God’s joyful Spirit? Scripture tells us that when justice prevails, the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
Prayer in Biblical Equality
In addition to joy, the importance of prayer emerged during the conference. Speakers reminded us that prayer plays a strategic role in discerning and doing God’s will in the ministry of biblical equality.
In drawing upon the wisdom of CBE’s gender and justice panelists, conference attendees asked how we should deal with denominations or churches that continue to resist the biblical foundations of gift-based rather than gender-based ministry. Panelists—seasoned by years of leadership experience—agreed the answer lies in patient and persistent prayer. In waiting upon God, we renew our strength and discern God’s leading in our lives and ministries.
CBE leaders unanimously affirmed prayer as a fundamental principle in the ministry of biblical equality and in the work of reforming the Church and the world. This is not a novel discovery. Christians throughout the centuries have discovered the power of prayer. Mary Slessor (1848–1915), Scottish missionary to West Africa, wrote in her book, Our Faithful God: Answers to Prayer:
“My life is one long daily, hourly, record of answered prayer. For physical health, for mental overstrain, for guidance given marvelously, for errors and dangers averted, for enmity to the gospel subdued, for food provided at the exact hour needed, for everything that goes to make up life and my poor service, I can testify with a full and often wonder-stricken awe that I believe God answers prayer.…I am at perfect peace, far from my own countrymen and conditions, because I know God answers prayer.”
At CBE, we have discovered that as we pray for individuals and denominations, God often graciously allows us to observe his hand working even as we pray. We are often blessed to grow closer to those whose lives are impacted by our prayers—even when we pray for people we have never met! Following is one example from our conference.
Rob works on CBE’s blog team. Although we have never met him, we remember him in our prayers often since he is a vital member of our community. While at our conference, a good friend and CBE member Patti Valasek kept telling me she wanted me to meet her son-in-law Rob. At the end of the conference she introduced me to him. This was the same Rob on our blog team. I wanted to cry for joy. Rob had become dear to us not only through prayer but also through his partnership in CBE’s ministry.
CBE is a global community of change-agents whose shared commitment to scripture, evangelism and justice are fueled by courage, prayer and joy—all good and perfect gifts from our loving God!
Conference recordings are available at CBE’s online bookstore.
During the CBE gathering, Lausanne Issue Group leaders Jane Crane, Mimi Haddad, Alvera Mickelsen, Jo Anne Lyon, Lorry Lutz, Jane Overstreet and Cecilia Yau met to explore future opportunities to celebrate the biblical basis for women’s gospel-service. Missions and evangelism—core values not only of our biblical faith but also of our evangelical heritage—grew significantly during the modern missionary movement as women and slaves offered extraordinary leadership. Because of this, CBE will host a gender and missions symposium in Toronto, Canada, 18-20 July 2008.
We invite anyone interested in writing a paper to submit a proposal to Chrissy Stockton. All proposals are welcome.
For more information on CBE’s recent conference, please click here.