Why now? In the past, there were Papua New Guinean women who had the educational qualifications needed to enter the Bible college’s training program for ministry. The Wesleyan Church of Papua New Guinea acknowledged that God calls both women and men to preach the gospel. But no woman had done ordination level studies at the Wesleyan Bible College of Papua New Guinea. So why now in 2017? I’m not sure I will ever be able to answer that question. I just praise God that a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit is blowing—sweeping aside tradition and cultural reservations.
This February, two student wives (pictured) asked if they could join their husbands’ more academically rigorous classes—rather than taking the normal women’s program at the Bible college. The time was right! Elis and Betty passed the entrance exam. The Papua New Guinean college staff was excited to accept them. The district superintendents from their tribe endorsed them.
The final hurdle was sitting down with their husbands, Maxson and Amos. They were asked “Do you want your wife to study with you? In this culture where men typically reign supreme, what will you do if she outperforms you academically? Do you realize she will now have just the same amount of time that you have to devote to raising your children and tending the garden?” These were hard questions—appropriate to Papua New Guinean culture. The college looked for honest answers.
Even though Amos comes from a tribal culture where men and women usually don’t sit together in public, he said he was happy to have his wife beside him in the classroom. Maxson said, “She probably will do better than me academically. But I can’t let that hold me back or hold her back. I need her beside me as a full partner in ministry.”
Cheri Floyd is a Global Partners missionary in Papua New Guinea.