Falling asleep during the begats

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by Debora Bell, Lt. Colonel – 

A lot of people open the New Testament, begin to read and soon fall asleep somewhere in the begats. Do you know the passage found in Matthew 1? “Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren…” It is hard to make a list of names exciting even when you know some of the stories behind those names.

A friend shared with me the other day that she has a new Bible DVD. Every day she spends time reading through the Bible with the DVD and her hard copy of the Bible. She confessed that she falls asleep from time to time when she gets to the part about someone begetting someone else and when it comes to geography. I laughed and assured her that it was a normal reaction and mentioned what I do to make those passages a little more exciting. For instance, I try to think of the meaning of names, the stories of the people mentioned and I look for names of women hidden in the lists. (You would be surprised how many women made those lists).

As I reflected on my conversation with my friend, my mind made a jump. Commissioner Phil Swyers is often heard saying: “It’s a woman’s Army.” The first time I heard him say that, I was offended. Then I heard what he was saying: It is his “Texas way” of confirming women’s ministries and the ministry of women in The Salvation Army. He explains that there are many doors into The Salvation Army but the easiest doors are through our youth and women’s programs. He gets it! He points out that women’s ministries are outreach programs that bring women and their families into the corps. Some of those women become soldiers. Some of those soldiers become leaders. Some of those leaders become candidates. Some of those candidates become officers. This begetting process grows an army. Think about it for a moment. What is happening in your corps? Is your Home League or women’s ministries group one that reaches out to the community and brings in new women? If not, why not? Are you happy with the size of your group? Do you lack vision or motivation? Do you have anything to offer new women? Are you afraid of change? If your women’s groups are not “begetting” new women, you had better pray and ask God to wake you up. If your women’s groups are bringing in new women, are you leading them to find a relationship with Christ? Are they joining your corps? Are they getting spiritually healthy? If you are not seeing growth and new life, maybe your groups have fallen asleep. If your groups are asleep, you may assume that everyone else is asleep.

Praise God, I know that not everyone is asleep! We have the privilege of traveling around the territory and seeing some exciting programs and people. There is a lot going on out there in the field. I love to hear from women’s groups and leaders about what is working for them. Each quarter we get narrative reports from the divisional Women’s Ministries secretaries, and they are full of exciting things. Our USA West statistics tell us that 1,727 people made a first-time decision for Christ through a women’s ministry program or because of the work of women’s ministry members. They also tell us that 1,315 families were linked to the corps. Of that number 139 were enrolled as soldiers. How many of those will become leaders? How many will become candidates? How many will become officers? Can we do better than that? I believe we can.

Commissioner Phil Swyers is correct; women’s ministries programs are some of the easiest ways to enter The Salvation Army. Women’s programs can serve as a gauge to the effectiveness of corps ministry. Women tend to gravitate into groups. They want to belong to something that is fun and meaningful. Look at the trends; go where the people are gathering. Dare I say it? Take your programs to the women. Do a Bible study at the local laundromat or coffee shop. Be relevant and flexible as you discover “felt needs” in your community. Go outside your comfort zone and outside the walls of your corps. The possibilities are endless and God will bless your efforts. Send your stories to your divisional Women’s Ministries secretaries so we can celebrate the new spiritual births with you.

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