In March 2014 the North American Division Department of Women’s Ministries sent out a gender statistics report indicating that women make up 52 percent of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Immediately, I thought of the impact we could make in ministry if we were diligent in equipping every woman for service.
Women’s Ministries is a great opportunity to help in rediscovering Adventist identity by teaching and training women for service for God. Reviving our church members is necessary; many have become lax and very comfortable in our current state. Often we take too much pride in identifying ourselves by the tangible things we possess, our earthly relationships, educational achievements, or our job title. We rely on social media to signify our importance by the number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers obtained.
In an effort of rediscover Adventist identity we must acknowledge that we have forgotten or lost something near and dear to our hearts. Reconnecting with God is of first and foremost importance; establishing and maintaining an intimate relationship with Him is essential in the restoration process.
Through prayer we allow the Holy Spirit to convert and convict us of those things that are unpleasing to Him. When we connect with God, the source, He gives us power to be overcomers; thus God can use us and our effectiveness in ministry is enhanced.
When I correlate rediscovering Adventist identity with Women’s Ministries, I think of a woman of astronomical faith who influenced and inspired many. Ellen G. White can be described as a pioneer of this great Adventist faith and a person with remarkable spiritual gifts. I encourage everyone to read Ellen G. White: A Brief Biography. It provides a glimpse of how the Adventist movement came into existence and takes you through her life journey of tragedies and triumphs.
Ellen’s foundation of good work ethics was established at an early age while laboring in the family home alongside her father manufacturing hats. At the age of nine, while returning home from school one afternoon, she was severely injured from a stone thrown in her face by a classmate. For three weeks she was unconscious, and in the years that followed she suffered greatly as a result of a serious injury to her nose. Because of this, Ellen’s formal education ended abruptly.
When Ellen was 12, she gave her heart to God. In her teens she led out in youth Bible study and prayer groups. Ellen’s earnest prayer was for God’s light and guidance. She married a young Adventist preacher, James White, and immediately they became partners in ministry. Health issues plagued their family and they experienced the untimely and devastating death of two of their sons. The Whites also carried their share of financial burdens.
Despite the challenges, Ellen was passionate for matters of God. Her love, dedication and commitment to service strongly influenced the foundation and growth of the Seventh-day Adventist Christian denomination. Ellen’s life was full of great accomplishments. But what brought her joy and comfort in her last days was the knowledge that she faithfully performed the work God had entrusted to her, and she was confident that the cause of truth would finally triumph.
Equipped through the Spirit
Some may wonder how a woman with limited education could write thousands of articles and numerous books covering such a broad range of subjects. Reacquainting members with the books of our faith like Steps to Christ, The Desire of Ages, Christ’s Object Lessons, and Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing is a step toward rediscovering our Adventist identity. (These are great books to use for starting a book club.)
Ellen White is a pure example of the fact that God doesn’t call the equipped; He equips those He calls. God’s purpose for her in ministry was greater than she could imagine. Like Jesus (Luke 6:12), Ellen spent hours in prayer with God. He was able to use Ellen in a mighty way because of her willingness to remain in communion with and obedient to Him.
Experiencing His faithfulness
Another critical part in rediscovering Adventist identity is through study of the Bible. I’m intrigued when I see God’s power of transformation in the lives of others. The Bible has countless stories of incredible people who exemplify great strength, courage and hope. These ordinary men and women with their unique experiences can inspire and motivate us. Through their stories we experience God’s favor, forgiveness and faithfulness.
I encourage readers in every situation to stay in prayer and remain faithful. Praise Him on the sunny days, on the rainy days and through the storm. Often when our spirit has been shattered we want to give up. When the spirit is fragile it directly impacts one’s ability to pray, study and worship. Many abandon commitments; some give up too soon and don’t benefit from the fullness of God’s blessings intended for them.
This is why the Central States Conference Women’s Ministry retreat theme for 2016 is Great Is Thy Faithfulness. We recognize God’s faithfulness and we will be encouraging all women to remain faithful in all situations.
Terri Perkins is Women’s Ministries director for the Central States Conference.