the shape of leadership

Truth in a Teacup

Sharing the message of hope with women

Judi Braddy on August 21, 2018

How is it that when we think of women’s ministries, a tea party often comes to mind? Over the years, I’ve attended, and spoken at, my share of tea events and can describe them in three alliterative words: friends, fun and froufrou. You’d think in today’s postmodern world of women such things would have become a bit passé. Yet announce a ladies’ tea, and stand clear of the signup table! What, some may wonder, is the attraction? I can tell you this: It goes far beyond froufrou.

Why else would a sharp, young, credentialed woman I know recently give up another cutting-edge ministry opportunity in lieu of an upcoming tea? Simply because it’s an excuse to pull out the formal china that few of us use anymore? Or to wear a hat we wouldn’t be caught dead in anyplace else? Or to sample sandwiches and scones too small to satisfy a hummingbird? Probably not.

Tea presents an opportunity to share a biblical message in a decidedly feminine atmosphere where all ages feel welcome — at an event planned and prayed over by women who care enough to lose sleep making those lovely little snacks, just so others will feel special.

It is also a natural and neutral platform to invite unchurched friends so they can experience the divine connection that goes beyond mere outward appeal and reaches to every woman’s heart-held need for value, hope and healing. The idea is to introduce them to Jesus — the unseen guest at every table and the only One who can meet their spiritual hunger and thirst. A tea, my friends, is nothing to trivialize.

The problem is, if we are not mindful, the message can become lost in all that planning and preparation. A tea party (or any other event, for that matter) is, after all, just a gathering without some deeper purpose.

The idea is to introduce them to Jesus — the unseen guest at every table and the only One who can meet their spiritual hunger and thirst.

Now imagine that you are a woman living in a culture that doesn’t value women, a place where women often experience abuse. Tea may be your only hope. I have a creative missionary friend who opened a tea house in a Muslim community because it is the only place where local women may freely congregate. There, she poured out love and concern with every cup of tea, in hopes of finding some small chance to share God’s redemptive message.

Then there is the teacup project born from the passion of another friend who works with fellow missionaries all across Europe to reach both local and refugee women, many of whom were rescued from sexual slavery and other horrible forms of abuse. It was four years ago that the idea emerged to organize teas, gifting a lovely china cup to each devastated and devalued woman as a symbol of her beauty and value in God’s sight (Genesis 1:27; Psalm 139), thus opening the door to redemption.

When my friend described this fledgling outreach to churches during her stateside itineration, the idea caught fire. Women began to bring teacups, some of them family heirlooms. They prayed over them and inserted Scripture-inspired notes of love and encouragement. To date, they have sent abroad more than 1,300 teacups, with the donated help of a local shipping company.

As a result, missionaries in at least 12 countries have a new tool for sharing the joyful news that God made women in His image and they are precious in His sight. When recipients hear that the cup was sent from a caring spiritual sister they’ll probably never meet this side of heaven, tears of hope and healing inevitably flow.

Am I saying that women’s groups should scrap all other events and plan more tea parties? Of course not. The truth in a teacup is not that we put all our efforts into just one event or strive to plan bigger and better productions. It is that we consistently remind ourselves why we are doing what we do and prayerfully consider how best to accomplish it.

We must make sure the message is as important as the method, and that our primary purpose is to win people to Christ, then encourage and mentor them into spiritual maturity so that they, in turn, may serve, win and train others.

From its earliest years, the Assemblies of God has benefitted from women who saw a need and found a way to meet it. And we are good at it. It is the very nature of women to serve, reach, teach and nurture. We have the ability to take whatever we have at our disposal, then enhance, beautify and commit it to the cause of Christ. In this intentional way, as God blesses our efforts, we have done and continue to do a tremendous eternal Kingdom service.

Even when it means spreading the gospel of truth one teacup at a time.


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