The first woman preacher I remember was Sister Katie Campbell. Almost yearly she would come to my father’s church in South Norfolk, Virginia, to hold revivals. She came so often that she became “Aunt Katie” to me.
In those days, evangelists usually stayed in the homes of host pastors. Sister Katie was known for her encouraging ministry with people, preaching the Word and singing. As a young boy I remember her because she paid attention to me.
Into my teenage years I would receive a birthday card from her with a stick of chewing gum taped to the inside. Little did I know I would have the privilege of being mentored as a pastor by her son, Rev. Carl L. Campbell!
At the 6th IPHC Global Assembly held in late February in Santiago, Chile, I heard Pastor Joanne Wong from the Wing Kwong IPHC in Hong Kong preach on the IPHC as “A Place of Hope.” To my knowledge, she was the first IPHC woman to preach in the pulpit of the Jotabeche Church, the Evangelical Cathedral of Chile.
In her message from Titus 2:11-14, she spoke of “The Coaching of Saying ‘No,’” and “The Coaching of Saying ‘Yes.’” Her message was well prepared, exegetically sound and powerfully delivered. Dr. Wong’s presence and message to the global IPHC family was a visible reminder of our gratitude that the Holy Spirit continues to be poured out on us through His daughters and maidservants (see Joel 2:28, 2; Acts 2:17, 18).
I’ve stood on the sacred grounds of Happy Valley cemetery in Hong Kong, where the hills have numerous tombstones marking “A Pentecostal Missionary” who came after 1906 to live and die among the Chinese. One of those was the grave marker of IPHC missionary Anna M. Deane, who died August 12, 1918.
Deane’s younger niece, Anna Deane Cole, had served with her in Hong Kong for seven years. They are part of the IPHC’s first fruits of many women who have obeyed the Lord and served as ministers in China, Africa, India, Latin America and Europe.
Today, through The Awakening, many young IPHC women are responding to the missionary call and faithfully serving Jesus. The good news is that they are coming from different countries, different languages and cultures, and all are committed to be a Place of Hope and a People of Promise. IPHC minister Lee Grady is also a strong global advocate for women through his ministry, The Mordecai Project.
In the United States, it is a joy to discover large numbers of women who are pastoring IPHC congregations. Some are co-pastoring with their husbands. Many more are either single or have the support of their husbands as they serve as senior pastors. From what I have gathered, the largest block of women pastors is probably in the Appalachian Conference.
I’m grateful for the support and opportunities these women receive from their leadership. I am also very thankful for the godly women pastors who served growing and effective churches when I was superintendent in Georgia.
Today the Holy Spirit is raising up a new generation of younger women who are faithfully preparing themselves for ministry in our churches. Some, like Karen Lucas in North Carolina, are in seminary and serving in a local congregation. Others, like Samantha McCutcheon in South Carolina, are serving as evangelists who inspire people of all ages.
In my closing message at the 6th Global Assembly in Chile, I mentioned what I believe to be five of the key things we must do over the next 14 years as we prepare for Arise 2033, the 2000th commemoration of the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus and the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The first three are most relevant to this article.
First, we must pray the Lord of the harvest for the largest wave of Christian workers, missionaries, pastors, evangelists, teachers and apostles that we have ever seen. I truly believe that in this dark world the Holy Spirit is working in undetected ways preparing a great host of laborers for this harvest.
Secondly, for the next 14 years every pastor, evangelist, teacher and denominational executive must preach on the call to serve and extend the invitation to new leaders.
Third, we must equip and release those God is calling for their maximum impact as they obey the Holy Spirit.
While none of us can call someone into the ministry (that is solely the work of the Holy Spirit), we nonetheless can talk about that call, extend the call, walk with those who are discerning God’s call and mentor those who are responding. We need all those the Lord will send into His harvest fields.
Women are a vital part of extending and responding to this call. Over the next 14 years and around the globe, our prayer is that thousands of women in the IPHC will arise to the call of Jesus and enter the various fields of service where He leads.
We as a movement welcome them to serve among us. We celebrate their spiritual gifts and value their contribution as we fulfill the Great Commission. Let us pray that the women will arise!
This article was first published in Encourage magazine.