Up until a few months ago, I was a female preacher. I genuinely thought God had called me to this role. I honestly believed it was the office I was destined for and that one day I would be catapulted onto the world stage. It was just a matter of time. However, all that changed when the UK went into lockdown. But allow me to give you some background.
Up until a few months ago, I was a female preacher…
In the summer of 2008, I had the opportunity to help lead a week-long children’s teaching series at a national UK Christian event called New Wine. Our team was working with the Year 6 (Grade 5) age group and I was helping to co-host. I also did several of the talks and I loved it. I came home from that week buzzing. This is it! I could do this forever! Please God, let me! On the back of this, I had opportunities to preach at my church and then in 2015, I was invited to join the Eldership.
In 2017, the church leadership decided that our Summer Series would be a book called Surprise the World! by Michael Frost. This book was about developing a missional lifestyle and was done through the acronym BELLS: Bless Others, Eat Together, Listen to the Spirit, Learn Christ and Sent by God. The ‘Listen to the Spirit’ section was essentially based around the idea of contemplative prayer which involves clearing the mind and waiting on God. I now know this to be a New Age practise because biblical meditation is about filling your mind with the word of God. However, I was ignorant so I went for it.
I sat alone in my friend’s apartment and I met God. Or at least I thought I did. It was an incredible experience. I walked through the doors of God’s throne room and it was so bright. I had my eyes closed but I was still squinting. I ended up sitting on God’s lap, talking to him. When I asked him if he had anything to say to me, he said the following:
“I have made you to be a teacher of My Word. A time is coming when people will want to know what the Bible says and you will be instrumental in that. Your husband will help you in that endeavour. Go home to England and you’ll meet him. You don’t have to worry.”
I was completely blown away by it and for the next three years, I earnestly chased it, sincerely believing that I was obeying a word from God. But what I didn’t do was check it against God’s word as we are commanded to do in Scripture. As far as I was concerned it was God. Why was there any need to check that it was actually him? Plus, I had quite a bit of success. I was given invitations to speak at other local churches and I loved it. In fact, my favourite bit was the praise I got afterwards. That in itself should have raised a red flag but at the time, I was blind.
And then came 2020 and Covid-19.
As with many places around the world, my school mostly shut down, staff were put on a rota and I was working from home for almost 6 months. Alongside working, I began a journey with surprising results. As a vocalist in the worship team at my church, I had regularly listened to a range of artists including Bethel, Elevation and Hillsong. I had heard rumours that these churches had issues but I’d always ignored those because I liked the anthemic songs that stirred my heart.
…what I discovered horrified me.
I finally decided to investigate and it opened up a whole unknown world to me. While I was familiar with the teachings of the Prosperity Gospel and Word of Faith movements, I had never come across the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), and what I discovered horrified me. I could not get over the amount of heresy, blasphemy and Scripture twisting that went on in these churches like Bethel and thanks to the ministries of sound teachers such as Chris Rosebrough, Justin Peters and Costi Hinn, and the excellent work of Melissa Dougherty and Doreen Virtue, my eyes were well and truly opened.
I have always had a deep love of the Bible and it made me sick to hear men and women, who claimed to speaking for God, taking God’s word out of context, misapplying it or completely twisting its meaning. My research became an obsession and it resulted in a dismantling of my faith. At one point I felt like I stood in the middle of a building site surrounded by wreckage and all I had left were the following basic building blocks:
God is sovereign.
Jesus saved me and his blood is enough.
God’s Word is inerrant, infallible and sufficient.
The last one made me pause. If I really believed that, was I being obedient? No. I was a female preacher and God’s word clearly said no.
For years, I had I had always had a niggling doubt in the back of my mind but had ignored it. A friend had tried to show me the Scriptures that forbade my preaching but I just dismissed him (I have now apologised). Finally, I did it. I summoned my courage and sat and watched John MacArthur’s sermon entitled Does the Bible Permit a Woman to Preach? and as I did, each one of my ‘reasons’ were dismantled, through his accurate exegesis of Scripture. Honesty was required. I was sinning.
I had sinned and I needed to repent.
I sat on the floor of my room and sobbed. I was broken and left with no excuses. I had sinned and I needed to repent. I did so and immediately promised God that I would never again speak in front of men in a church service. It wasn’t that I am less capable or less valuable. It simply isn’t my role and I have to honour that. God has set up a beautiful, divine order, and marriage, we are told in Ephesians, is a reflection of Christ and his Church. When women choose to submit to this, we honour Jesus, we honour the men in our lives and we pass the responsibility of godly leadership over to them – which is where it should have been in the first place. I emailed churches I had spoken at and said I wouldn’t be returning unless they were holding women’s or youth events. By God’s grace, there weren’t many to contact! Most responded graciously but where I got negative responses, it was often the male elders who were trying to dissuade me. But over the next few days, God used Scripture and excellent preaching to confirm it was the right thing to do.
But I have truly experienced God’s undeserved favour because since I repented, He has returned to me several things I lost as a result of my sin and I want to share two of them.
I have truly experienced God’s undeserved favour…
When I look back at my journal from 2008, I wrote about how much I wanted a family of my own, a husband and children. During the 12 years I preached, my desire for children hadn’t just dwindled but had been replaced by a deep fear and depression at the thought. In fact, it had grown so much that even looking at a pregnant friend filled me with feelings of disgust and horror. I cannot explain just how strong this was. The moment I repented of preaching, that feeling disappeared. Completely. Since this decision, God has brought a truly wonderful man into my life (and I haven’t suddenly become really broody!), and so when we get married one day, the conversation about having children will now look very different.
The other thing that has happened is that I am totally at peace and no longer dissatisfied with my life. When I was a preacher, I honestly believed that my job as school teacher was a temporary role until I was released to start a preaching ministry. But chasing that ‘dream’ led to dissatisfaction with God and impatience with Him and His timing. Those have also gone with my repentance. I am now satisfied to spend the rest of my life in obscurity, simply sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and loving the children God sends my way.
This journey has been painful but life-changing. The gospel is simple. Prayer is not complex and is not about demanding anything from God. I have a new fear of the Lord, the kind the Bible describes and it is my trust in the blood of Christ that enables me to approach him in humility and gratitude.
My experience has shown me this: Read His word and obey it as it is. If it rubs you raw, be brave enough to find out why. Be honest and repent. Walk away from your sin and refuse to entertain it any more. No one wants to find out that they are sinful but God is gracious and you will gain far more than you lose.
Ladies, God is still at work in the hearts and lives of His people, including yours! Would you like to share a testimony of how God saved you, how He has blessed you, convicted you, taught you something from His Word, brought you out from under false doctrine, placed you in a good church or done something otherwise awesome in your life? Contact me, or comment below. Your testimony can be as brief as a few sentences or as long as 1500 words. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!