Posts Tagged ‘Shall Women Preach?’

Louisa Woosley portrait- Internet ArchiveLouisa Woosley knelt by her ailing daughter’s bed and prayed. She felt that her daughter’s illness was her fault. God had clearly given Louisa a call to the ministry and she had disobeyed the call. Louisa asked for God’s forgiveness and promised the Lord that if He would restore her daughter to health she would answer the call.

God did restore her daughter to health and now Louisa was in a dilemma. How could she deliver on her promise? This was 1882 and America was clearly a patriarchal society. Women were not supposed to preach in public. Though Louisa had read through her Bible twice and underlined all of the passages where women served God, she still thought that it would be impossible for her to answer God’s call to the ministry as a woman.

So torn was Louisa that she entered a dark depression and was confined to her bedroom for six months. She deteriorated to the point where she was even unable to sit up in bed on her own. Finally, she realized that she must commit her whole life to God and answer His call no matter what. She determined to enter the Gospel ministry.

Immediately her health improved.

On January 1, 1887 the elders of her church invited Louisa to preach when the regular minister was gone. Her preaching was well received and Louisa began to preach whenever she was asked.

How did Louisa rise above her fears and doubts and become the trailblazer for women to follow in ministry?

Louisa Mariah Layman was born on March 24, 1862 in Kentucky. She was brought up in a Baptist household and committed her life to the Savior when she was twelve years old. It was soon after this that Louisa received her call from God. She thought that maybe she misunderstood because she did not know any women preachers at that time. Believing that women were forbidden to speak in public she decided to answer the call in a way that she believed was Biblical, by becoming a pastor’s wife.

She married a Christian, Charles G. Woosley in 1879 in the hopes that he would have the call to the pastorate. Instead Charles became a farmer. He was a good man but had no desire to work in full time ministry. Louisa struggled as she realized that she was not going to be able to fulfill her call through Charles.

A few years later, in 1882, Louisa studied the Scriptures looking for what God had to say about women in ministry. She came to the conclusion that God does not play favorites. There were too many women named in the Bible who selflessly served God for there to be any doubt now. God did call women to the ministry.

Imagine the turmoil for this woman in the 1800’s as she thought about actually obeying God by preaching in public. She was certain of God’s call, but how she agonized as she went through the idea of being the first woman that she knew of to be called to the preaching ministry! No wonder she suffered through so much turmoil. She wanted to be absolutely certain. Her first thought was to please God. And so after her daughter was restored and she herself was graciously healed, Louisa had the courage to rise above her doubts and go forth in obedience to God.

Louisa knew that she would face obstacles but by this time she also knew that God was with her and would help her through them. It was an amazing answer to her doubts when she was first asked to preach. God showed her that He meant business when her preaching was accepted by others.

From there Louisa went on as a pioneer for women in ministry. In just a few years Louisa preached 912 sermons resulting in over 2000 conversions to Jesus Christ. How can anyone deny that women should preach? The most important thing for any person is to get right with God. Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). What more fruit does any Christian want to bear than bringing others out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light? Many thousands are thankful for the faithful work of women evangelists.

Louisa’s work opened the doors for other female ministers. Perhaps during her trials in her
early marriage she might have questioned what God was doing. All of us can look back and see what God was teaching us through trials. Louisa had her sincere doubts before God showed her that He was truly calling her. And so she was able to truthfully give an answer later when men questioned her about whether or not women should preach. Louisa had sought God’s will by doing the right things. She went to God’s Word first. She prayed. At first she listened to men and she tried to do what she thought the ordained ministers wanted. In the end, she simply obeyed God.

With heartfelt words and an honest, compelling testimony, Louisa convinced the men who were questioning her about whether or not women should preach. Many men changed their minds in face of the evidence – Louisa’s unshakeable faith and the many thousands who were accepting Christ.

This all happened in the late 1800’s. Today women still face opposition from those who insistshall women preach? that only men may preach. But what is preaching? Is it not a call to sinners to repent and put their faith in Christ? Are women disciples supposed to obey Christ too? Are they not supposed to call their loved ones to repentance and faith in Christ?

As Louisa saw in the Scriptures, women are part of God’s plan for the salvation of His world. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3;28). The man or woman who puts their faith in Christ and has new peace with God is grateful for the one who shared the Gospel with them. It does not matter if that person was a woman or a man. A soul is now redeemed. God’s Word is true whether spoken by a male or a female.

Louisa obeyed God’s calling. This was incredibly courageous for a woman in the nineteenth century. Only the conviction that she was in God’s will could keep her going. Like Peter and John before her she had to obey God rather than men. She lived through ridicule and persecution as many saints did before her but she knew after the miracles God had performed for her that she was in God’s will. All alone as a pioneer Louisa trusted God that she was chosen by Him to be His servant and she joyfully served God for the rest of her life.

How grateful we can all be that Louisa did not remain in fear but chose to follow God believing, ““God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.  ‘These all have to learn that it is, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.’”





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