“Widows and Orphans,” Gospel Hope, and Answers for Women

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The theme of this year’s Answers for Women conference is Embrace: Compassionate Answers in a Fallen World. As I explained in my earlier post on the conference, we want to help women understand the effects of sin in our fallen world (in addition to confronting people about their sin) and offer practical help and hope based on God’s Word and found in Jesus Christ. (See my other posts about presenters Camille Cates, Stacia McKeever, Rose Colón, and Rosaria Butterfield.)

I am very pleased that Joy Fagan, Director of Safe Harbor House, will share about her work with disadvantaged women and how to minister to women in our communities that need the hope and healing that can only be found in Christ. This is what Joy had to say about her ministry and the hope of the gospel:

Joy Fagan

Joy Fagan

When it comes to helping today's "widows and orphans," where do we go for answers? The timeless Word has much to say about helping the hurting, from the consequences of the fall in Genesis 3 to the moment when He will "wipe away every tear from their eyes." Whether it is a woman coming out of sex trafficking, substance abuse, domestic violence, or homelessness, and so on, the gospel and all of the profound implications that flow from it is relevant and powerfully redemptive.

The statistics bring to bear the brutal reality of today's cultural tsunami, a growing trend of human trafficking and heroin addiction. Human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in our world, and the fastest growing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that heroin overdoses doubled in the United States from 2010–2012. These evil atrocities fly in the face of our value as human beings created in God's image and show no discrimination, and the strata of governmental and societal structures are frantic to find a solution to stem the tide of this nationwide and even worldwide tsunami.

Historically women, especially women of faith, have linked arms and fought for our children, our families and our communities regarding social issues of the day. Whether it be child labor laws, the right of women to vote and to be appropriately valued in society, discerning media venues, anti-abortion efforts, or body perception, women have fought for their values and for the well-being of all peoples. This is the time to repeat history with today's greatest dilemmas that are stealing the hearts, minds and souls of men, women, and children.

More importantly, Christian women must rise up and be salt and light, together with the collective body of Christ, and stand against the manifestations of Satan's strongholds in our day. Sex trafficking, sexual addiction, body perceptions, substance abuse and other strongholds are holding people captive at an alarming rate and to an alarming degree. Solutions seem elusive, and spiritual warfare in the throngs of such bondage is thick and palatable. Individual warriors are weary, and far too often the church is on the margins, whether because of unawareness, lack of equipping, or just plain lack of courage and willingness to engage. The church of Jesus Christ is powerful, redemptive, restorative, and the only "human" entity, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to stand against the gates of hell, to release the captives and set free the prisoners, as Jesus Christ Himself did as a fulfillment of Isaiah 61. Near the end of His ministry He stated that those of us who believe in Him would do "even greater things than He," and He prayed that we would be one with the Father and unified as believers.

Engaging in the front lines, coming alongside godly men, and offering the church all of our gifts, abilities, passions, and spiritual vitality, we can make a difference! As the One who created all things, grieved over the all-encompassing consequences of the fall, and redeemed all things in the midst of the groaning of creation, Jesus Christ is not only the example but the very "life blood" of what it means to redeem and restore that which was broken. He has called us to embody who He is as an authentic Spirit-filled Christ follower. Join with me in considering the truths of Scripture and how they apply to our day as we become "discerning of the times" and as we seek to be a sanctifying influence for hurting people in our Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond.

If the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on us as He was on the prophesied Messiah (Isaiah 61), then let us pause and consider together how we can be part of the redemptive solution, for pure and undefiled religion is to take care of the orphan and widow and keep ourselves unstained from the world (James 1:27). Let's consider, for such a time as this . . .

Joy Fagan is Founder and President of SiFi Ministry, Inc. and the Safe Harbor House.  She stepped down from her career as a professor of biblical and ministry studies in 2013, and now focuses her attention on creating pathways for women coming out of trauma and substance abuse. A major focus for her in this endeavor is to engage the church, the redemptive community of Christ, as a catalyst for healing. Joy also has been speaking and teaching in a variety of contexts on topics such as gender identity, human trafficking, women’s ministry, and spiritual formation. She has a passion for teaching and equipping women to be all that they can be in reflecting all that Christ is. She is involved with the Clark County Jail chaplaincy in her hometown, helps provide leadership for education, worship and women’s Bible studies at her church, and serves on the board of reference for Women at Risk International. A 2005 graduate of Southern Seminary with a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership and Church Ministry, Joy resides in Springfield, OH.

I don’t know about you, but when I read this I had tears in my eyes and was deeply convicted to be thinking of ways I can reach out to the “widows and orphans” in my community who need the love of Christ. I believe Joy’s presentation on Friday night will really set the tone for this conference—the need to embrace and give compassionate answers to women living in this dark world and bring them hope and life found only in Jesus Christ. Don’t miss out—register today!

Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!

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