I remember the day, when I made my public profession of faith in Jesus Christ. I was only ten years old, and it was during a revival service. One evening before the meeting, my father and I were in the family room talking about heaven. He always like to talk about heaven. I couldn’t help but to believe when I looked into his eyes with that faraway look. I knew that he was telling me about a real place. I remember asking him what heaven would be like. He told me that heaven would be anything that would make me happy. The endless possibilities of that statement rushed into my mind. Would I be able to fly? Would I be able to breathe under water? “Yes,” he said, “If that would make you happy.” However, he went on to say that although heaven will be anything that would make me happy, he said that really only one thing would be needed, and that is Jesus. All that really matters is that Jesus will be there, because Jesus is what makes heaven, heavenly. I decided that night that I wanted to be with Jesus for eternity. So, I gave my life to Him.
I received both Christ as my Savior and my call into the ministry as a child. I remember playing church in my garage. Of course, I was the preacher. Even though I could not read the Bible yet, (at that time I was about seven years old), I remember holding it up and saying, “God loves you. The Bible says so.” Since my grandfather was a minister, I told him that when I grew up, I wanted to be a preacher too. I expected that he would be happy. Instead, he curtly told me that girls could not be preachers. In my young mind, I instantly realized that none of the preachers I knew were women. I had not taken particular notice of that fact, and I felt very ashamed that I had said such a thing.
As I grew, the dream of the little girl in the garage was buried deep beneath teachings that would not allow it to come true. So next, I considered becoming a college Bible teacher. I sent a letter to the Christian university that I planned to attend asking for a list of the curriculum for a Bible major. I received back a letter, which informed me that female students were not allowed to major in Bible. From that time on, I felt that God had played a cruel joke on me. He gave me the desire to preach and teach His Word, and I knew that He also gave me the ability to do so, but at the same time He would not allow me to do it. I did not understand, yet I would not go against His will according to what I thought the Bible taught. I spent many years in that state. Later, I bought a book from Charles Trombley called, “Who Said Women Can’t Teach?” It opened my eyes. I also came in contact with an egalitarian organization called, Christians for Biblical Equality, which furthered my growth, along with my education at Ashland Theological Seminary.
Then, the day came when I got my first opportunity to preach, but the years of oppressive teachings had filled me with so much fear and rejection that I was petrified. Even so, I accepted the offer, and I prepared a fifteen minute sermon. I asked my family for prayer. I told them that I was so afraid that I thought I might pee my pants at the pulpit. Ever my support, my sister Darlene immediately sent me a package of adult diapers. It was a good laugh. When the Sunday came, I was still shaking. I shook where I was sitting. I shook as I walked up to the pulpit, but the minute I stood behind it, I found that little girl in the garage again. I was where I was meant to be. Then, the peace of God came over me, and all of the fear left. I have never been afraid to preach again. As is often the case for each of us, I just needed to step out obediently in faith and God met me there.
Later during prayer, I revisited what had happened between my grandfather and myself. I heard again the words that cut me off so long ago, but I felt Jesus say to me, “He didn’t call you. I did.” I know that grandpa did not mean to hurt me. He simply told me what he thought was true. I’m sure that he knows better now, and is among the great crowd of witnesses that cheer all of us on! Since then, I have been ordained in the Free Methodist Church of North America and recognized by the Church of the Nazarene and have served in both denominations.