Written By: Cathie Ostapchuk
It is not “good” voices or “bad” voices that I am listening for, but voices that come from somewhere near the heart and that do not seem afraid to be heard.”
- Barbara Brown Taylor
Gather Women exists to connect, equip and champion women of Canada so that they are empowered and encouraged to influence their world for Jesus Christ.
In order to be influencers, we need to find our voice – individually and collectively. As a movement, we unpack our mandate with a bit more clarity when we describe what we are doing when we gather women:
Creating spaces for connection, Biblical teaching and equipping
Championing a culture of support
Calling Forth a national voice for Canadian Christian women, coast to coast
What does our national, collective voice sound like? How do we find it and claim it?
Voice is more than simply speaking; it engages the whole self - mind, body, spirit - your true self. Voice is a theological concept because utterance is directly connected to how God expressed God’s own self. God spoke, and in doing so God revealed God’s self.
Speech is revelation. Voice is intimately tied to theological revelation. In ministry, our speaking is not just our own but for the sake of God’s own expression. We speak, in part, for God, and God speaks through us. God counts on us to emit the words of God and the Word of God so that others might hear the promises of God in their own lives. Your voice and God’s voice intersect in your expression. You and I need to know what we believe, own what we believe, and speak what we believe with confidence. What do you believe about your inherent value as one created in God’s image, regardless of gender? What do you believe about your God-given gifts and their value in the Kingdom?
Voice is personal – what you say, how you say it, your vocabulary, accent, intonation, when you speak up and when you don’t - all reveal your identity and your character. To believe in your own voice, you have to believe in your identity and your own experience and believe that it deserves to be spoken out loud.
Believing in your voice means remembering who you are, which will demand an intentional reclaiming of your identity as a daughter of the Most High.
Do you know who you are and whose you are? Do you self-silence your voice because you place a higher value on the voices of others than you do your own?
Voice also shapes how you do ministry and influence those around you. Who in your world do you sense wants to speak but has never been invited or allowed to speak? How can you help them articulate their theology, opinions and faith story? Because of who you are and all you are called to be which has yet to unfold (a woman in ministry, a woman in leadership in the church, or elsewhere, a woman with influence), women, and even men, will come to you for help to find their voice.
When you are able to utter your truth, you automatically invite others to imagine the same. You invite them to envisage what is possible for them.
There are voices in this nation that have been unheard for too long. Voices of women who have let others determine their value and diminished their worth.
I know that it's a big audacious goal to claim that we as a national movement can call forth a national voice. But that remains our goal. The national voice can only rise when each woman decides that she will no longer be afraid to be heard. Sometimes the fear comes from a theological assumption, a challenging context, or, most often, a lack of confidence.
We want to keep affirming over and over again that every voice matters in this nation. Every woman matters in this nation. We desire to reflect a generationally, denominationally, geographically and culturally diverse yet unified voice.
Your voice matters to us. But you have to find it – and with encouragement, as we invite the voices of women into greater expression and presence, we want you to share it with us.
Don’t be afraid to be heard. Speak your truth. The words of Jeremiah ring in my ears daily when I shrink back from using my voice to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, or fail to speak on behalf of the voiceless:
“Then the LORD reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth!” (Jeremiah 1:9)
Find your voice and help others find theirs. It matters to you, to those who need you to speak for them, and to God, who has given you your voice to share His gospel.