The first woman I had ever seen preach was Dr. Juanita Bynum.
I was raised in a household with a semblance of faith but noncommittal in its practice, meaning I knew there was a God and went to a family church on associated important holidays, and that was it.
At 16, I was baptized, and at 19, I got serious about my faith. It was at that age that I saw Dr. Bynum on TBN. I thought she was—incredible. She was unlike anything I had ever come across, and I was mesmerized. Her sermon, her voice, and her presence made me remember what I had told God soon after my baptism: “I want to be a mighty woman for You.” I didn’t want to be a clone of Dr. Bynum, but I was more confident that I could be like her—I had an example to follow.
There have been moons and years past that TBN viewing, and I have been blessed to meet women who look like that preach the Gospel, indeed the Good News, of Jesus Christ. As I found my own footing in the preaching of the Gospel at 31, I encountered what most women have when accepting this same call:
This blog, and its associated space, is not adequate to disseminate and exegete this scripture, neither is it to debate it from the standpoint of Joel and what he references in regards to daughters or the importance of Deborah in the Book of Judges.
What I can say is there are women that are called to preached the Gospel, and it was a woman that trained and taught me how to operate (read: work) in a ministerial capacity. It was a woman that affirmed me in my call and taught me this one piece of information that I cling to:
“Stand flat-footed and say what God has to say and let that be it. It’s not your job to make them believe, only be obedient.”
-A. Marie Bell
This is a journey I never envisioned for myself. I have found myself in heated discourse with people whom don’t believe I am who I say I am because of my gender and wish to muzzle me because of gender and color.
In this hewn space, indeed, you have to be made and taken from some sort of rock to be both called and black in the same space. One does not seem to overrule the other.
In times of great distress and wanting to give up, I am thankful that God has seen fit to give me a core group of women that I can cling to and glean from and follow their example. From that group, I find the following:
1-Reassurance. I’m not alone nor crazy, and I am needed and necessary in this, the Body of Christ.
2-Strength. I have seasoned women of God in my midst that remind me that I have more in me that I ever thought— I can be tired, but I can’t give up. These women give me practical advice along with the knowledge that the path to my destiny is indeed a process: I will not die in the getting there.
3. Balance. From these sage mother figures, I learn from their examples, are privy to their failures, and learn that my first ministry is to my family. Ministry is not something that should throw your life off so much that you cannot give to anything else.
4. Hope. From these women that look like me I get the sense of community as well as the understanding and reassurance that I don’t have to be perfect. I get the example of what grace looks like when allowed to operate in other arenas. I get the responsibility of becoming my own person. The most precious thing? I get affirmation that being me is enough. I don’t have to become anyone else or change myself to do what God has called me to do.
From these pieces, I can go in difference spaces retaining my personhood, embody my call whether I’m asked to speak or teach or preach, and be settled in the question of who I am. From that, I can do anything.