By Beryl Amos
During the past months the whole of the Christian Church in Australia, has been challenged and encouraged in her witness and evangelistic programme. We have learned that what we think is not necessarily the important thing, but rather what we know, and that knowledge--backed with authority--is the vital need of the world today.
When Jesus said to His disciples, as recorded in Matthew 28:19-20: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world," He did not pick out the few with special gifts, He did not say, "Go, My ministers," or "Go, My missionaries," or "Go, My brothers;" He said, "Go YE," and all disciples of Christ everywhere are included in that "YE."
So it is our responsibility to obey His command. I know, as you know, that we all cannot go to the uttermost parts of the world. It is not practicable--but we are in the world, and wherever we may happen to be, there lies our responsibility, for we read, in Acts 4 how through persecution, the Church was scattered. But did the Christians hole themselves up? NO! For in the 4th verse we read, "Therefore they that were scattered aboard went everywhere preaching the Word!" So we see that not even persecution relieves us of our responsibility of telling people everywhere the good news of Jesus Christ.
Let us think particularly in the terms of Christian Women's Fellowship, for that is where we will find our greatest scope. We are women, thinking as women, living as women, working as women with other women.
Problems Which Ought to Concern Us.
Are you satisfied with the programme your group follows? Do you feel the vital power of Christ in your meetings? Do you feel that your group is alive and important in Christ's overall mission--that the world and the Church is better because of your group?
Or, has your group become a clock-watcher--bustling everything through so that we can have time for our afternoon tea, or our supper? Or is your group more concerned about social programmes--or in its good works? Or has it been forced into the position of Cinderella, doing the chores that no other group wants to do, or trying desperately to make up the shortcomings of the rest of the Church because it has failed to face up to its responsibilities, particularly on the financial side?
I am not suggesting for one moment that this shouldn't be part of our work. The friendly chatter over a cup of tea is good . . .I like the social side of our programme--it has never hurt anybody to have a good, hearty laugh--and we can use this way to introduce the Church to many of our friends, and perhaps to mothers of our Sunday School scholars. For those chores, it is perfectly natural for the women to take control--when there are church teas and suppers and things of that kind--just as the men naturally assume the task of repainting, repairing fences setting up the anniversary platform and so on. Perhaps the one for raising money is not quite so easily disposed of--especially among the churches that are small in numbers--I have a great respect and sympathy for these churches, for I was brought up in one of them, but let me assure them that the bigger churches have just as many problems, if not more. They may be of a different nature, and are usually more subtle, but often they are just the same. So take heart, a common need brings out a common response, and there is time left for many of those other aggravations.
All these things are amongst our responsibilities. It is our responsibility to be aware of and to alleviate temporal and physical needs in the community. It is our responsibility to be friendly with our fellow Christians, our responsibility to bring friends to the meetings, it is our responsibility to give of our talents and our money, but we have not finished when all of these have been done, for there is one more responsibility that is greater than all these put together, this is the point where we to be perfectly honest with ourselves and with the Lord.
Programmes Which Ought to Compel Us.
Have we really played our part in evangelism? Or do we leave it all to the minister? We have a unique opportunity as women, for we do have contact with far more people than we realise--there are the other women we meet, the shopkeepers, our own children. Have we explored the possibilities of an Evangelistic Mission for women? I know only of two such efforts. One was a local effort within one of our own churches. The other was an interdenominational effort, with two women speakers--Mrs. Myrtle Breen, of Melbourne, and I think that the other woman was a Mrs. Green, of Brisbane. I remember this lady asking, "Are we too dryeyes" in our concern for others! Whilst we abhor over-emotionalism, let us not forget that we must feel, otherwise we are cold--dead--unapproachable. She told of a young man whose mother was a devoted Christian, but the son was not interested. His argument was, "If my mother really believed these things, do you think she would fail to tell me, her son, whom she loves, about them?" There was room for personal evangelism! What about our own families? Are we real evangelists in our own homes?
It is our responsibility to prepare ourselves for evangelism. Yes, for preaching the Gospel! It may not always be from a church pulpit--but don't overlook the fact that there are times when even this avenue is open to women, and we should be dishonouring the Lord if we put our personal prejudice up as a barrier to accepting this privilege--for remember, Jesus said, "Lo, I am with you alway." It is our responsibility to be awake to every opportunity to witness--therefore we need to study God's Word, practise our faith, and grow in the knowledge of spiritual things. Then we are more likely to be useable in personal Evangelism, visitation Evangelism, or mass Evangelism, or wherever the Master shows the need.
People Who Ought to Challenge Us.
Do you remember Jesus coming to visit Mary and Martha, and their brother Lazarus? We are told about it in Luke 10:38 ff. Have you ever said--"Well, my sympathy is with Martha"? There, in the heat of the day, she was left to do the serving alone. I know I have!
But Jesus, in His wisdom, delved deeper than the surface. He did not rebuke Martha for her diligence in the home, or for serving His meal. He knew that these things were important, but I think that He looked down through the ages and saw people like you and me sheltering behind the things to be done, and suffering frustration, and getting irritable with everybody because we haven't faced up to the real responsibility, for did He not say, "But one thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her"?
It is our responsibility to sit at Jesus' feet, for there we will mature spiritually, and all our work will be more effective because it can be backed up with deep spiritual knowledge, that will be passed on to all those we meet. Underlying and undergirding all that we do will be the resources and power of the Holy Spirit.
Remember that God gave women minds, and the power to think. Let us dedicate and use them, for the glory of God, and venture forth fully prepared, and equipped, sharing our responsibility with the One who gave the command, "Go ye . . .teach all things whatsoever I have commanded you"--and that has never been altered, amended, or annulled.