This past Saturday night, Prince Philip and I joined a number of our dear parish family members at a gala dinner held at a Hilton hotel ballroom in Anaheim. We got all dressed up and I have to tell you — we church folks looked really good! It was a lovely time with a great meal, awesome fellowship with people we love, and an inspiring program as we honored the 2014 “Women of Substance.”
The award dinner was sponsored by SeneGence International, an organization which offers products and opportunities for women. And the event was held to benefit two organizations: The Make Sense Foundation which assists women and children in crisis and the Eli Home which is dedicated to breaking the cycle of child abuse by reaching out to victims of abuse and neglect.
Though I was blessed to be presented on stage as a nomimee for this year’s Women of Substance award, I quickly became just part of the admiring crowd as we listened to the stories of 20 inspiring women who, despite personal challenges, had made significant, positive differences in the lives of others. This year’s Women of Substance award went to Virginia Isaias, a human trafficking survivor, who through her own personal experience has estalished the Human Trafficking Survivors Foundation (HTSF) which assists survivors of violence and human trafficking. While Virginia was in captivity, she saw women and children tortured and killed. Her leadership is now being used by the Lord to empower, mobilize and advocate for survivors of human trafficking.
This great event and inspiring stories such as Virginia’s have left me reflecting on the question: Who are Woman of Substance?
The Bible is filled with Women of Substance — women who, in the face of great personal challenges, were used by God to reach out and make a difference in the lives of others!
- I think of the infertile women in Scripture who trusted God in the midst of their barrenness and whose lives brought forth a Kingdom harvest of faith: Sarai (Gen 16), Rebekah (Gen 25:21), Rachel (Gen 30), Samson’s mother (Judg 13), Hannah (1 Sam 1), The Shunammite (2 Kngs 4), Elisabeth (Lk 1).
- There are the women called into leadership in tough times and many under very difficult circumstances: Miriam at the Exodus (Ex. 15), Deborah (Judg 4), Huldah (2 Kgs 22, 2 Chron 34), Mary Magdelene (Jn 20), Lydia (Acts 16), and Junia the Apostle (Rom 16).
- And of course the “everyday” women God used to further his purposes: Ruth (Book of Ruth), Rahab (Josh 2), Mary, the mother of Jesus (Lk 2; Jn 19), Anna (Lk 2), Mary & Martha (Lk 10, Jn 11), Samaritan woman at the well (Jn 4), Joanna & Susanna (Lk 8).
These women from our Christian history and the women I met Saturday night plus the many women down through the ages who God has touched and used for His purposes teach us something. They show us what it is like to be a Woman of Substance. From a Christian perspective, they all have these three things in common:
- A Woman of Substance has surrendered her life into the providential hands of God. In spite of uncertainty, hardship, trial and even persecution, they echo the words of Mary, the mother of Jesus who said to the angel in Lk 1:30, “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
- A Woman of Substance believes that God’s plan is greater than any other priority. These women know God’s love, live in God’s love and are secure in God’s love. No matter what, their credo is this: “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Rom 8:28
- A Woman of Substance believes that with God, all things are possible. For women such as this, life is not about what we can accomplish, but what God can accomplish through us. God will use ordinary women to do extraordinary things! It’s not about us — it’s about HIM! “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13
I was blessed to be a part of the 2014 Women of Substance awards. Thanks to all who participated and certainly those who supported and honored the 20 nominees! And special love today to all the Women of Substance in my life! I couldn’t be who God has called me to be without you!
Pray for me that I may continue to live my life with a deep desire to be a Woman of Substance — so that Christ’s Kingdom light can shine through me into the lives of others, all for His glory and His honor!
Love to all,
After more than 25 years in parish ministry, Rev. Cathie retired in early 2018 to pursue a quieter life with her husband Philip in the mountains of Central Oregon. Although no longer a leader in congregational life, she continues to follow her calling and passion to minister to those who suffer, especially those with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.