Sunday, November 29, 2009

Half the Sky

“We don’t have to have daughters anymore!”

The statement comes from Half the Sky, a powerful book I finished reading recently, in which Pulitzer Prize winning authors Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn chronicle the disturbing ongoing global crisis involving women and girls.

The title was taken from a Chinese proverb: “Women hold up half the sky”—an important reminder that women are one of the world’s vital natural resources and, as the book so convincingly points out, not simply because of their ability to reproduce.

The speaker was a Chinese man rejoicing over the availability of ultrasound. His cause for joy? The fact that under China’s One Child Rule, technology now enables Chinese couples systematically to abort unwanted female babies in their desperate quest for sons.

In some cultures, daughters are prized and championed. They are told, “You can be anything you want.” Elsewhere in the world, daughters have gone missing—millions of them—through female infanticide, sex trafficking, honor killings, and inadequate healthcare, to name a few causes. Discarded, sold off, or executed as worthless. Not long, long ago. This is happening today!

There ought to be a warning label on a book like this. The contents are appalling, nightmarish, and unforgettable. If you’re like me, you have to stop reading periodically to pull yourself together, and once you’ve finished, you won’t be able to get it out of your mind. Yet, this is one book every Christian ought to read—whether you have the stomach for it or not!

We need to be honest about the grim realities in this fallen world. At the same time, we must not lose sight of the hope we have that God is at work, and He is working through us.

Concurrent with this tidal wave of suffering is a hopeful surge of women God is raising up to serve Him in ministry. One of the biggest success stories of the modern church is the fact that so many of God’s daughters are sensing His call, training in theological seminaries, graduate schools and internships, and moving into a wide variety of ministries, including ministries to combat the rampant evils that are devastating the lives of countless women and girls.

We believe God has raised up Synergy for such a time as this. The Synergy Women’s Network champions these women. Synergy exists to connect, equip and mobilize them to serve God in ministries worldwide. Our national conferences are fueling their efforts.

Synergy is making a difference, and so are they.

We have come a long way with volunteers and significant support from like-minded friends. We believe God is calling us to do more as we transition from a fledgling organization to a leading-edge international network. We are working to make our network actively available year round, employing the power of technology to reach more women, and taking Synergy to other parts of the world.

WhitbyForum friends have been great Synergy supporters in the past. Once again, I am asking you to remember Synergy in your year-end giving and also to consider becoming a regular Synergy supporter.

To find out more, go here.

Climate Change!

Last March—the day before Synergy2009 to be exact—Frank was appointed Provost at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts.

That decision triggered a wild and crazy year.

We sold our house, packed up, and moved to New England (Boxford, Massachusetts to be precise) where, after 16 years in Florida, we are working diligently to winterize ourselves before the cold weather sets in.

(So much for all my gloating about being warm year round in Florida.)

I may be bracing for the first icy blast of winter, but it will warm the hearts of Red Sox fans to learn that Frank and I have a history of bringing good luck to the local major league team. The Phillies, Dodgers, and Marlins all won the World Series shortly after we moved into the neighborhood. So if the Sox win the Series in the next year or two, you'll know why.

Adding a major move to my schedule didn't slackened the pace of anything else. I've had my busiest speaking schedule ever with trips to Alaska, Minnesota, California, and Orlando. Next week I'll be in Michigan, Indiana, and California again. I've signed a two-book contract with Zondervan, so I have my work cut out for me.

If you're keeping up with Synergy news, you'll know Synergy is exploding. In January, Angel Richard and I are taking Synergy north for SynergyChicago. Synergy2010 (March 5-7) marks our 6th national conference. Registration is now open for both conferences. To stay informed about Synergy, sign up for the Synergy newsletter here.

Meanwhile, you can find me on FaceBook and Twitter, blogging here, and as a regular columnist in FullFill's recently unveiled digital magazine which is now free online!

Bundling up in Boxford,

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Now in Spanish!

The Gospel of Ruth is now out in Spanish. I just received my advance copy of el Evangelio de Rut in today's mail. Made my day!

Scheduled for release Dec 1—just in time for Christmas giving!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Paul & the Women of Philippi

"Was Paul disappointed when the Holy Spirit led him to a group of praying women? Did he fear the feminization of the church in Philippi? Was he looking for a few good men to take over this new ministry that was overloaded with women?

Some years later, from a Roman prison cell, Paul gave his answer in a letter he wrote to his friends in Philippi. “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3–5, emphasis added). As the Philippian believers read his letter aloud, they knew who Paul had in mind—the founding mothers of the Philippian church who partnered with him in the gospel 'from the first day.'"

Listen online to SESSION 11 (Conclusion) of Midday Connection's rebroadcast of Paul & the Women of Philippi—and get ready to rethink negative perceptions of Paul's attitude towards women.