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photo credit: Ateh42 via photopin cc

photo credit: Ateh42 via photopin cc

This is the first in our series: The way I see it! written by guest posters about one part of their life experience, how they came to know GOD in a new way and how their church helped or hindered them. I hope for more first person accounts on a variety of topics from other guest posters…whether in an area of life experience or dealing with an area of sin.

I have gotten to know Jenni through blogging. She is from Singapore. We have a common faith in Christ.

One of our differences is that I am from a denomination that doesn’t have women elders or pastors. She and others of you are from groups that do.

As a sister in Christ, I appreciate hearing her story and am touched with how GOD worked in her life through her circumstances as she learned to trust GOD while trying to obey Him during this time of tension regarding her calling. (Notice, the issue wasn’t over ordination of women per se.) Her story was a challenge to me to trust GOD with my heart!

Learn more about Jenni below. She writes at the blog To Really Live

As usual, comments that are not respectful will be deleted.



Curve balls can come at you from many places. But usually one would not expect it from the church that has nurtured you and even supported your call to ministry.

I was in the final year of my seminary training. Three years earlier, I had entered the hallways of ministry preparation with my dream of becoming a cross-cultural missionary. But when I finished my second year, I felt a distinct call to become a local church pastor. Not everyone was thrilled about the change; some even believed I had chickened out of a more spiritual adventure and told me so!

My church office was less than half a mile’s walk from my seminary. But after the meeting, the trudge felt unusually hard and long.

The conversations that night started off warm and friendly, but after a while, I began to sense we were meandering. Finally, one of the leaders said, “You know, our church needs a pastor. But we are hoping to have someone who is a married man in his forties with young children.”.

Being my usual extroverted self, I joked in reply, “I am afraid I cannot do anything about that!”. But there was no usual warm repartee. An awkward silence weighed upon us all and the meeting ended on a ‘all the best to you’ note.

As a well-known leader in the church, this was the last thing I expected. I have led all kinds of committees and my leadership seemed to have been appreciated. As a church tradition, we were never taught that women could not assume leadership even though we never ever had a woman pastor. After all, we had female elders. As a young adult, it just never dawned on me that my gender would pose a problem.

But as I looked back, I realized that I was pretty much raised a neuter in church. Except for those typical wedding day and mother’s day exhortations; women were never addressed as a group in church. Our gifts, passions and callings were always talked about in a non-gender sort of way. In fact, the few times that our gender was featured; it was seen more as a liability –

Can a single woman go to the field?

What if she decides to marry and have kids? (which means we invested and wasted our money)

The church’s view of women was not much different from the world’s in the end.

Yet this was just going to be the first of more experiences to come.

God opened a door to a small family church that needed a pastor who could work with youths. I accepted the challenge and began to pray for love for the flock. However, when the time for my ordination came, I found men in charge of committees who were not supportive; and eventually I was not ordained until nearly a decade later despite my qualifications and experiences.

Recently, a young woman wrote in a daily about how her experiences with the church caused her to leave her faith. In large part, she had found the church understanding of women strait-jacketed her, so she chose not to be a part of it any longer.

This young woman could have been me,

except for two things.

Firstly, my story happened nearly two decades ago. I guess we were less self-assured back then and much more compliant where authority is concerned.

Secondly, I knew that my identity and calling came from God. It is vital to have the affirmation of others; but at times, one must simply find God-alone enough. In fact, a female colleague urged me to fight and broker my case; but as I stood and the salty waters lapped at my feet, I looked at a vast horizon and determined that I would leave the issue of recognition and reward in God’s great creative hands. There will be no fighting for me, just a bowing out.

Not being ordained is like trying to serve a meal with main ingredients missing. It felt awful. I could not baptize the folks I preached and taught. I could not marry the youths who were getting ready to walk the aisle. I could not play an active role in my denomination. It was a rather natural process of recognition and appointment that anger, self-doubt, and resentment can easily build up.

Yet I thank God that He warned me repeatedly to keep the home of His dwelling in me – my heart – focused on Him and purified of these incriminations.

I began with a dream to serve God as a missionary.

Along the way, the dream had been redirected, retrofitted, adjusted, shelved… I do not at this point know where the trail will finally land. But one thing is certain, through God’s loving acceptance and the many ways He sends timely reminders that I am still on track with Him lead me to the only conclusion: the dream I have is but a doorway into the dream He has; and I will need my entire lifetime to figure that out!

The beautiful thing is this: he has given me my lifetime to do just that, with His eye on me to counsel me.

This little verse which I discovered as a teen and have since taught to many:

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;

I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” ~ Psalm 32v8 ESV


Photo: from Jenni Huan

Photo: from Jenni Huan

Jenni Ho-Huan blogs at To Really Live {}

She is married to Philip and they run a church consultancy while raising two vivacious children. Jenni loves spirited conversations, watching animal antics, and music. She is author of When God Shapes a w.i.f.e., Simple Tips for Happy Kids, and Shed Those Leaves. She lives in Singapore.