A few weeks back I made a few comments on ‘apostolic women’ or perhaps more broadly ‘pioneering leadership’ amongst women. They do seem to be a rare breed and part of the question is ‘why’? At the Forge national summit I was presenting a session on apostolic leadership that definitely had a blokey edge to it – lots of testosterone and grunting – but the girls asked ‘how does this take shape for women?’
A good question that continues to bob around in my mind. Thanks girls!
In the comments at Signposts I have suggested that the current situation is a combination of our innate natures as well as social conditioning. Women are naturally more maternal in their orientation and men more ‘hunter/gatherish’ but our society has also made it less appropriate for women to do pioneering types of things.
This week I was reminded of two other apostolic women. The first was Mother Theresa who we saw on the big screen on Wednesday evening. While full of compassion for the sick and dying – in fact I would say driven by compassion – she was also strong willed, courageous and full of faith. She felt sent by Jesus to care for the sick and dying – simple as that. If the movie is to be believed she was not one for detail or beauracracy. She just wanted to see things changed and would not stop until they were. She made some huge sacrifices and she inspired many with her passion.
So there you have a woman driven by compassion who was also very results oriented. She was committed to only doing what was on Jesus’ agenda yet she fought fiercly to accomplish what she felt he was leading her towards.
The classic scene has to be the end of the movie when the MT ‘organisation’ is sitting around in a Chicago office building discussing balance sheets while sipping $3.00 bottles of Perier water. She finds the whole thing absurd and in true apostolic fashion closes down the whole organisation just like that. (Did that really happen?) They had veered from their core task and were now losing their original charism. So… cut the crap and get back to what we are really about. We could say she was protecting the DNA of the movement.
A very gutsy – and yet compassionate woman.
The second is not well known at all, but she is an amazing woman who has left an incredible legacy. Her name is Alice Faulkner. In the 1920’s she and her new husband took off to the Kimberleys in WA to engage in pioneering mission work among aboriginal people.
She and Ern travelled all round the Kimberleys, meeting the aboriginal people in their creek-beds, adopting kids, teaching them, loving them and generally making an impression that will not be forgotten. They were involved in bulding, education, nursing, in fact anything that would serve and connect them to the people. The aboriginal name given to Alice was ‘Endubboo’ which means ‘mother’. She was a mother to many of the people in that area during the 50 years she and Ern spent up there. (Yes you read right… 50 years)
She died 3 weeks ago at the age of 94. She had been struggling with cancer for two years and eventually, although her mind was as sharp as tack, the body just wore out. I went to see her the day before I left for the Forge National Summit, as we knew time was near. It is always a privelege to sit with godly people as they end their lives. To be able to say ‘well done – you have inspired me’. I told her I would be telling her story at Forge and for years to come, (She would much rather me just talk about Jesus) as people needed to hear of their lives and what can be achieved if we are simply willing to follow God’s call.
This week Danelle went to the funeral up in Fitzroy Crossing. Five days of travel for 1/2 a day of funeral, but worth every moment and every cent to honour one of West Oz’s great pioneering missionaries. What was striking about the funeral was that the aboriginal people (despite all the mistakes that were made with them in those times) saw her as their mother and saw her as someone who had changed the equilibrium of life for them in that part of the world.
Some of her final words, read out at the memorial service down here, were ‘tell my people that I love them…’ These were her people. She had become one of them – not a ‘foreigner’ or a ‘whitefella’ – but a family member. Danelle’s mum tells of reading a missionary story to her 3 days before she died, her mind still sharp and alert. Nana says to her ‘it makes me want to ‘go’ all over again’. The missionary spirit was still alive and well 3 days from the end.
There are some people who will never be famous in this life, but whom I count it an immense privelege to have been around. Her and Grandpa are definitely two of those people.
Pioneering leaders who knew what it meant to follow Jesus.