By Susan Beck
The strategy for this purpose, and for all of Christian education, is found in the Titus 2 Mandate, given to the pastor of the church. Biblical discipleship is rooted in God’s Word, sharing life-on-life and precept-upon-precept.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be reviled.
Susan Beck, PCA teaching elder’s wife, was taught and encouraged to live out this purpose and strategy. Susan has been given multiple opportunities to be engaged in biblical discipleship relationships to the next generation.
Spiritual Mothering, Missions and Me
After 26 years in the PCA, 23 of which were spent as a church planter’s wife, I’ve heard just a little bit about the principles of Titus 2 and spiritual mothering. I always felt this is something I should do, not realizing that God was already using me.
When I was a young pastor-church planter’s wife, a friend and I co-led a study, Spiritual Mothering, by Susan Hunt. I readily accepted the concept that we can all be spiritual mothers, regardless of our age, all of us being older than somebody, but I had my hands full at the time with four daughters – the next generation! There was little time or opportunity to invest in other women. But God was planting seeds.
When Stephen and I moved to Toronto, Canada, to plant a downtown church, my heart beat especially for the university-age crowd. Although a quiet individual, I loved opening our home to groups. Saturday evenings saw our home crowded with up to 50 young adults from the “twentysomethings” ministry; we spent many evenings afterwards talking one-on-one. An ongoing stream of exchange students from around the world invaded my private space, and I noticed that many of those young women were looking to me for the nurture, stability, and warmth of a mother. The seeds were starting to sprout.
Five years ago, we made the decision to move to Germany, for Stephen to begin teaching at the Freie Theologische Akademie north of Frankfurt, the largest evangelical seminary in Germany, and the only one that adheres to the inerrancy of Scripture. Unlike our earlier move to Toronto, I accepted this move grudgingly, feeling angry and disillusioned with life. That motivated me to start a Bible study of Galatians with a close friend. Technology made it possible for us to “meet” regularly to chat online over issues related to the transforming power of God’s grace.
Strangely, the journey of breaking my heart brought me to a place of contentment in Christ that I had never known before. The Gospel poured water on the sprouts, and they grew. God prepared me to encounter this new culture with a new boldness in my heart and character.
Now I am understanding the will of God in our call to Germany: He has placed me in a setting in which 95% of my contacts are with younger adults and in which I am an “empty-nester.” He has placed me into a culture where a Germanic sense of orderliness and Lutheran pietism makes for a form of Christianity, often a mere outward “spirituality” (not unique to Germans!). Stephen and I are blessed to live at the seminary, which means I have easy access to 40 younger women who are preparing for Christian ministry, many of whom long for interaction with an older woman who has experience in ministry. I participate in a fellowship of an additional 40 student wives, with some one-on-one counsel. Our passion is for newly planted churches to sprout up all over the land of the Reformation that is in desperate need for a second Reformation (only 2.5% evangelicals), and on Tuesday nights my husband and I mentor numerous individuals and couples God has raised up for the future task. My experience as a church planter’s wife, combined with biblical principles, enables me to develop gospel-centered prospective church planters’ wives. (And if I ever run out of women to spiritually mother, there is a university of 35,000 students across the street!) God has pushed me out of my natural comfort zone and given me freedom and boldness through the gospel; the opportunities for spiritual mothering are endless.
Spiritual Mothering: Teaching and Living God’s Truth
Fanny Gomez is a pastor’s wife from the Dominican Republic who, in God’s
sovereignty, came across the Biblical Foundations for Womanhood books. Through interaction with Susan Hunt and the Women in the Church office, Fanny was encouraged to attend 2006 Leadership Training, thus leading to a Dominican delegation of eight women and a pastor attending the 2006 Women’s International Conference. Fanny has taught The True Woman, and under the full support and encouragement of the pastors, she spearheaded the development of a women’s ministry with a heart for teaching the next generation. The following is an excerpt from a letter Fanny wrote about the challenge of having an open and teachable spirit to the truths she has been teaching others.
“We have finished studying The Legacy of Biblical Womanhood. The women gave testimonies about the benefits in their lives after studying it. This is the third book of The Biblical Foundations for Womanhood series that I have studied, and I feel that I am personally making all these truths about biblical womanhood mine. I have such a burden about sharing all of these with my sisters in Christ. Please continue to pray for our women’s ministry; we need more teachers or spiritual mothers.
In July my husband and I are moving to Santiago, an hour and a half from here. My husband has been traveling almost every Sunday for three years to preach in a church that has remained without a pastor. He loves this church; they have been praying for him to be their pastor for years. Last September our pastors talked to me to find out my thoughts about this possibility. My husband had a big desire of moving there, but not me. I had my reasons (but I also didn’t want to move) and exposed them to our pastors. I told them I was willing to submit myself to their decision. September to December were difficult months. My husband was sad because my heart was not beating with his about this, and I was sad because I was the cause of his sadness. I had to apply all I have been teaching about my helper design. I had to admit I didn’t want to leave all I have had here for years: my church, my family (mother and brothers), my friends, my children’s school, my house….What helped me is thinking of the truth from The True Woman: ‘The way of duty is the way of safety.’ Finally, I told my husband, ‘Eric, I will go with you, not only because I have to submit to you, but because I want to serve the Lord where He wants me to go, and I know that my calling depends on yours.’ The Lord has changed my attitude, and I am willing to support my husband and serve God where He wants me to be.
So my husband and I will move as missionaries of our church to Santiago. The women’s ministry will continue, and we will continue to work together, but my Bible study will be with the women in Santiago. My spiritual daughters are sad, but it’s been so good not to have a personality-driven ministry. I told them they have to continue teaching these truths to the next generation. This is not my responsibility; it is our responsibility. We can’t stop raising our voices!”