How can we empower our wives in their own ministries?
Over the years we have seen many BAM families return to their home countries! A very common reason given is that the wife has not really settled in to the country and culture. Why does this happen? Does the wife have a significant role to play in the BAM life? How can we empower our wives in their own ministries?
Here are a few things that I have learned from my wife…
Wives are invaluable!
The first thing I want to say is that I believe wives are an invaluable part of the BAM team. The wife has a number of significant roles to play in the ministry. Especially in Arab cultures, where men are usually the primary breadwinners, one key role is that of supporting her husband and family. Every day I come home from work to a wife that is 100% behind what I am doing and understands the time and energy it requires. She is committed to carrying the lion’s share of the work at home including homeschooling our precious kids. Another vital role is her own personal ministry. From our experience, women have an amazing opportunity to get to know the ladies in their community and minister the Word of Jesus to them.
Empowering our wives
There are a number of key ways that we can empower our wives so that they can have fulfilling ministries.
The first is to allow them time to study the language. I am convinced that you will never be totally comfortable in a place until you have a grasp of the language.
We often require the men to do certain hours of language and even reach a certain level of proficiency; however we don’t hold the woman to even a minimum standard. Why?
The second way we can help our wives is to encourage them to develop their own relationships. I try to watch the kids a couple times each week so that my wife can get out in the afternoon.
Wives, remember that you can always visit people with your kids!
Sometimes the young ones are the best way to open up doors in to the community. As I am writing this post, my wife has her neighbor over for tea. Because men & women do not mix, I am sitting in a cafe getting some work done.
Wives might have more freedom
One thing that we have noticed over the years is that my wife seems to have more freedom to share. Because she is not expected to work or have a professional identity, she can spend her time ministering from the home. She can boldly proclaim to her neighbors and there is never a question of why she is there! She does not have to worry about creating a business identity! The stronger my professional identity is, the less questions my wife has had about why we live in our closed country.
Seasons of Life
I can remember back to when we had very young kids. With napping babies and homeschooling, it was sometimes tricky to find the best time to visit local friends. My wife was amazing at hauling the kids out to the park to meet local ladies, but it was not easy. Now that the kids are getting older, it is much easier for my wife to go out with or without them. Let’s have a little grace and remember that there are seasons of life. Mothers with babies may not be able to do as much as “empty nesters”.
One last point…
We need to make sure that our wives are included in the ministry and see themselves “called” just as much as her husband.