Mike Gwartney

Mike Gwartney

I was asked to write a bit about me and why I think it’s crucial we undergird women like The Marcella Project.  I had to look up undergird as it is a word I don’t normally use in conversation.  So the simple definition of undergird is “to strengthen or support (something) from below, to form the basis or foundation of.”

To strengthen or support something from below didn’t seem to fit. A more fitting definition might be “To come along side, to strengthen and to support”.  Now that we have an understanding of my definition of undergird, why do I think it is crucial to come alongside and strengthen and support women?

My short answer is that women have insight, a different perspective, and come at things different than men.  It is not that men can’t or don’t have insight or perspective, but some struggle to use it.  Women seem to have a connection with God and intimacy through the Holy Spirit, which seems to be different than men.  As you read this I am sure you are thinking of all the women you know, old and young, who have prayed for you, who have taught you or your kids, who have loved on you, and who have impacted your life in a special way. We love that they pray for us and teach our kids, but when it comes to the Church, we don’t ask them to lead.  The Church has always tried to stifle women’s voices, discouraging them from praying out loud, leading Bible Studies, and overseeing ministries. I think women who can pray better, teach better, and lead better intimidate men.  Sometimes women’s strengths hone in on men’s insecurities.

The Church is where I saw women’s strengths and leadership.  For years I had the privilege of videotaping women’s bible studies and men’s bible studies, and I was amazed at the difference. Women seem do a better job of teaching, preaching, praying, going deeper in the bible, and caring for each other, better than men. There seems to be a special connection. I would bring my boys along to help videotape and would love that they were being exposed to the teaching to women by women.  Women impact our lives from the time we are born.  We should come alongside, strengthen and support women so they can impact us till we die.

Today we, my wife and I, have been called to build radio stations in South Sudan.  God has blessed the ministry, RADIO SOUTH SUDAN, with three-radio stations run by South Sudanese churches.  I love that we have women who are Presenters (African term for DJ) on the stations. We interviewed the first woman Mayor in Yei, South Sudan. We encourage women to be leaders through radio programs that empower women and girls in South Sudan.  

The women who I believe I have come along side, to strengthen and to support and who I respect and honor would be my wife Cheryl of 37 years (40 plus years if you count dating), Jackie, Sue, Amy, Betsy, Katherine, Kathleen, Kelly, Debbie, Suzie and others.  I consider myself a “man friend” to the women mentioned.  A “man friend” is a man who encourages, who prods, who can challenge, who can listen and who can help launch women leaders to be all God designed them to be.

Be a “man friend.”

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