I’d gone on a trip to Gatlinburg, TN with a group of young people from my charismatic church. There we were, about a dozen of us in our late teens, early twenties, pumped up for a rockin’ holy ghost time.
We were excited to attend a Christian conference there with thousands of people in attendance. I was especially stoked because one of my favorite Christian music groups was playing: The Imperials.
On the first evening, we gathered with all the other attendees in a huge auditorium. The speaker was a missionary who’d evangelized the mean streets of Chicago (I think. Or maybe it was Boston?) Wish I could remember this guy’s name. Been Googling my brains out … I’d know it if I heard it.
Anyway … he was a very high energy guy, known for his biting tongue. He was a hard talker with a message that cut to the chase. A little controversial, but a no-nonsense kind of fella as I found out during his message.
He was talking about the call of god. I was fully engrossed in his words … he spoke our language. He was one of those ‘radical’ Christians. We used that word differently than what you hear today. “Radical” to us meant stepping out of the comfort zone to preach the word of god with abandon. Street preaching, door to door evangelism, beating the pavement for Jesus, overseas missions… We thought all that was radical.
This guy was all that. He’d done all that. Was doing all that.
His message was really resonating with me because, like all my buddies in our Christian group, I wanted more than anything to know what call god had on MY life.
My ears, eyes and heart were wide open until he said something like this: “When god calls you into a place of leadership, of course, I’m not talking to you girls now. Just you young men…”
I remember a flush of heat rise from my belly up to my neck as he continued his talk. There it was … something that would become all to familiar: That little bitty jab, that tiny eensy reminder that we women weren’t fully included in this thing. There were limitations. There would always be limitations.
I almost got up and walked out. Wish to hell I’d done so.
That one small phrase stayed with me the entire weekend. I went to bed thinking about it. I woke up thinking about it and it poisoned the rest of my weekend.
I and my Christian sisters were called to the periphery of what god was doing. Male superiority may not have been what he intended to communicate, but it was certainly was the outcome for me.
God played favorites. And we women were not among them.