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We Are Free Indeed

Sojourner Truth used her God-given freedom to set others free—and we can too.

Like Frederick Douglass, a counterpart in the abolitionist movement, God had given her a spirit of insurrection. She was fully free to go and be who God had intended her to be all along: Free to preach the Word. Free to change her name to Sojourner Truth, “because I was to travel up an’ down the land, showin’ people their sins, a’ bein’ a sign unto them,” declaring truth to people. Free to fight for the rights of all, rising in resistance against the freedoms we take for granted today (see The Narrative of Sojourner Truth for more).

It is, after all, for freedom Christ has set us free, and we use that freedom to set others free. So how has God made you free to be who you were created to be, as a woman in leadership, even if you came from the most unlikely of circumstances?

“God uses the least likely candidates to embody and carry out his message of the Good News,” Michelle DeRusha, author of Fifty Women Every Christian Should Know, wrote me in an email. “[Truth] was nearly destroyed by the burdens of her life until God resurrected her, gave her a new name and a new identity, and empowered her to speak the truth about slavery and women’s rights to audiences that were often less than receptive.” Sojourner Truth not only fought for the rights of those who needed it most, but also in her later years spoke out about prison reform, property rights, and universal suffrage. She who stood on the very fringe of society, maligned and ostracized by those who should have been defending her, never ceased to uphold the right to freedom for all persons, with an authority, dignity, and courage all her own.

Truth fought for the marginalized and the oppressed because she herself had been marginalized and oppressed. So we, too, are invited to fight with and for the marginalized and the oppressed. We are invited to give voice to the voiceless. And we are invited to believe that there can be equal rights for all humans everywhere, because, like Truth, we can relate, even in the smallest of ways, to their plight.

As women in ministry, we wait for the time when all will see the value we bring to the table, when the kingdom of God is advanced by women and men working together. But until that day comes, we too wait in earnest hope, with an authority, dignity, and courage only Christ can give.

Somehow, in God’s kingdom economics, nothing is lost, and he is able to redeem even the worst experiences. In Sojourner’s case, he took a woman who once stood on a platform as a commodity to purchase, and gave her a platform to bring freedom to the oppressed. Rallying the crowds with wit, winsomeness, and holy grit, Truth used her platform to bring value to the marginalized.

August29, 2016 at 8:00 AM

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