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Aug

God’s good design – an interview with Kristie Anyabwile

We’re pretty excited to host the Stand for the Gospel conference here in Auckland in two weeks’ time. Our keynote speaker Thabiti Anyabwile and his family will be flying over from the sunny Cayman Islands to join us.

At STAND 2013 we’ll also have the wonderful privilege of having Kristie Anyabwile teach a women’s seminar titled “God’s Good Design: Women’s Ministry in Complementarian Contexts”.

As Thabiti himself puts it:

Kristie’s been kind enough to take some time in her busy schedule to answer a few questions.

1. Briefly share your testimony of conversion with us.

I grew up going to church but not really understanding much about the gospel or my sin and how it separated me from God. Church was where you went to hear Bible stories and to learn about God. Sometimes I’d be emotionally stirred by the singing or preaching, but I didn’t know what to do with those emotions, so I ignored them or hid them away in my heart. In college, I wanted to get more from church, but I seemed to be more “lost” in the services and not getting much out of it.

I didn’t think I was learning much about God, and eventually I gave up and became more syncretist in my beliefs, taking what seemed to be common among various religious traditions and accepting those common moral virtues and tenets as “truth”. I had always believed that my life was in my hands, and that I could be and do what I wanted if I set my mind to it. This worldly view was soon shattered. A few years into marriage, we lost our first child through miscarriage. I knew immediately that my life and plans were not in my hands, and began to think about who God is and what He wanted from me.

Eventually, I was introduced to a TV preacher who taught the Scriptures line by line in a way that made the Bible seem alive and meaningful to me. My husband and I took a weekend trip to visit his church, which was a few hours from our home. At that service, the Lord made it clear that I was a sinner and in need of the redemption that Christ purchased for me through His death, burial and resurrection. The Lord saved me and my husband that day, and by His grace, we’ve been living for Him ever since.

2. Why do you think what you’re teaching on is an important topic?

Many women, both those inside and outside the church, constantly battle the questions of equality and worth. Whether in the workplace or in ministry, women struggle for the right to be all that God has gifted them to be. It’s on the shoulders of women like Kate Sheppard, in NZ, and Susan B. Anthony, in the U.S., that women now stand free to have a voice in the political system. Many societal advances for women have affirmed our equality and worth in the world, by God’s grace.

But what about the church? Church is often considered to be behind the times in its affirmation and equipping of women for the work of the ministry, save children’s ministry, hospitality, and maybe music. But what does God’s Word say? In my seminar, we will discuss true biblical womanhood, what the Bible teaches us about equality and the complementary roles that men and women have in the home and church, and explore a wide range of worthwhile ministry options that are available to women in the church.

3. What do you hope will be filling people’s minds and hearts as they walk away from your message(s)?

I pray that women will see that God has always been concerned about our equality and our worth. He’s preserved both in His Word, for our good. I also pray that women would leave the session encouraged to embrace God’s design and roles for them, and that they would serve their families and the church in love.

4. Is there any passage of Scripture that sums up what you’ll be sharing?

Genesis 1:26-31:

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." 29 And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (ESV)

These verses show us that both men and women are created in God’s image. He created men and women equally by calling them both to be fruitful, increase in number, and to have dominion over the creation (Gen 1:28-30). We are also equal in dignity or worth-God saw all that He had made, and it was very good (Gen 1:31). He made us both to display His glory in the earth, to spread His glory throughout the earth, and to produce godly offspring on the earth.

5. Can you expound on one point that you’ll be making in your message?

The problem with the equality and worth conversation often comes in discussions of roles that women may have in the home and in the church. A major point of our time together will be expounding on how it is that we hold both equality and distinctions in roles for women and men in balance. God has made clear that men and women have distinctions in the roles He calls us to in the home and in the church, and those distinctions serve to illustrate the relationship between Christ and the church. God has called men to show the love and sacrifice of Christ toward the church in the way they lead their family and the body of Christ. He has called women to demonstrate the honor and submission of the Church toward Christ in the way they respond to their husbands and the leaders in their church.

6. How has what you’re going to speak on affected your own life?

Over the years, as I have searched the Scriptures on biblical womanhood, I’ve come to understand just how much my thinking about what it means to be a woman has been shaped by the world rather than God’s word. It’s been a joy to discover the beauty and freedom of submission and how it relates to the Lord’s great purpose of making Himself known to the non-Christian world, and to His purpose in showing aspects of His character that can be seen most clearly in human relationships in the home and in the church. I pray that I’ve served my husband, my family, and my church better as I’ve attempted to live out biblical womanhood in these spheres. Also, as I’ve discovered the breadth and depth of ministry opportunities open to women in the church, I’ve had the privilege of serving women and my church with greater passion and freedom.

7. Can you recommend any books, articles, websites, or materials on this topic?

Here are a few books and websites:

8. What would you say to someone who is trying to decide whether or not to come to STAND 2013?

This year’s conference is on finding assurance, through the study of 1 John. If you have ever struggled with assurance, this study will help you discern if you are in the faith. If you’ve never struggled with assurance, a study of 1 John will strengthen your love for God and for His people.

Come to STAND to be encouraged to stand for the gospel of our Lord, to fellowship with other believers, to meet new friends and reconnect with old friends, and most of all to be reminded of our grounds for assurance, the person and work of Christ on our behalf!

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For more details and to register for STAND 2013, visit: http://www.standforthegospel.org/conference/stand-2013/.

Update: Kristie’s seminar can be found here.

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