Pursuing Partnership: Moving Mountains of Strongholds

Engaging the Battle for Men and Women in Partnership

By Drs. Leslie and Chad Segraves


This article is part of the series Pursuing Partnership: Men and Women in Ministry.

Years ago, a young woman approached Leslie on the campus of Delhi University:

“I heard that you teach about marriage. So, I have two questions. In my culture, both Hinduism and Islam teach that men are here and women are here (her hands showed men high above women). What I want to know is this… What does the God of Christianity think about men and women? And what do the followers of your religion practice?”

Leslie answered both questions, and the young woman replied, “Thank you for your honesty. Because of what you said about your God, I want to explore Christianity more fully.”

As the young woman walked away, we once again realized the powerful message the Church would send the broken world if we revealed how Jesus could redeem us not only spiritually but also practically. The lost world would see God places true value on both daughters and sons.

God laid out his beautiful plan for men and women in Genesis 1:27-28 and Jesus repeated it in Matthew 28:19-20. God clearly revealed that He created both male and female in his image. He then gave them both the Edenic mandate – a mandate which required both men and women to engage side by side and shoulder to shoulder to all nations. Jesus repeats this mandate in Matthew 28:19-20, and in Acts the Spirit came to indwell all believers – both male and female so that they could fulfill the Great Commission. Jesus also told us to pray for more laborers because the workers are few (Matthew 9:37-38).

The enemy hates the idea of more laborers working in unity, so throughout the ages, Satan has worked to distract, disable, and disqualify some people from engaging fully. The topic of “who can serve God” and “in what capacity” affects Christians in all cultures and all generations. Often godly women are limited, devalued, and discriminated against – even within the church. Here are a few examples:

“What are we to do? We have given our blood for Jesus and been honored to follow Jesus into prison. But now our house church has read books from [Western pastor] and he says women should sit down, not speak, and not lead the church any longer.

Combined quote, multiple Chinese sisters

“I used to evangelize all the time and lead Bible studies. Lots of people came to Christ. Then I read this book by [Asian Pastor] that women should never lead or speak or try to teach any man. So now I have stopped. I want to be obedient.”

25-year-old Indian sister/evangelist

“Does God love boys more than girls? That’s what boys said in my class at school today after the teacher taught about creation.”                                                                        

9-year-old girl in Christian School in U.S. 

As missiologists who have lived within many cultures over the last 25 years, we believe restoring the fractured relationship between male and female is crucial to the completion of the Great Commission. Getting this relationship right will require overcoming not only biblical confusion, but also millennia of spiritual strongholds. Thankfully, Christians are built for battle as we follow Jesus who came to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8)!

To reiterate our battle purpose, A.W. Tozer describes two ways that Christians view the world – as a playground or a battleground. He says that many Christians live with a wrongheaded worldview, thinking that we are here simply to play and wait for Jesus’ return. “We are NOT hear to fight; we are here to frolic.” No, indeed not!

Increasing the number and quality of godly male and female laborers is certainly a battle! To engage well, we must be grounded in Scripture (not traditions, opinions, or a desire for rights/position.) Our prayer lives must be significant. Hudson Taylor, missionary to China, said, “If you would enter that province, you must go forward on your knees.”

How do we approach the question, “How can men and women partner well together?” We believe collaboration starts with a spiritual understanding of the war that surrounds this redemptive model between male and female. Such a war requires moving some tectonic plates!

The topic of male/female collaboration is a supra-territorial battle, a worldwide movement of specific spiritual “tectonic plates” – the reframing of the shattered male/female relationship seen in the original Fall in the Garden. This is no small feat. This is no small enemy. This is no small demonic power. This relationship affects every culture and every family, in particular God’s daughters. The restored relationship displayed between the redeemed men and women will also release more laborers required to complete the Great Commission.

We have identified a series of spiritual barriers that hinder men and women working well together – and we will discuss them in this weekly series. With these strongholds, the enemy sows discord and rips people apart. The enemy loves these strongholds since they cause: women to suffer rejection, men to suffer and grow in pride, decreased laborers reducing the spiritual harvest, distortion of the image of God, and dishonor towards God.

Over the next few weeks, we are asking you to advance on your knees and enter the battle – not “frolicking” but “fighting” alongside of us. Some of the strongholds you may recognize in yourself. Repent and continue to fight! Others you may see in others. Intercede and keep going!

Jesus wants disciples from all nations. God intends for a strong team of godly men and women to bring in the harvest. One key part of that unified labor is recognizing and interceding for the removal of enemy-inspired, tectonic plates.

Let us pray together to see these mountains move, in Jesus’ name!

This article is submitted by Wendy Wilson of Missio Nexus and of Women’s Development Track.  Women’s Development Track is a Missio Nexus member.  Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.

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