That Sunday morning I had the typical excitement and slight nervousness I always experience when I’m scheduled to preach. With that came the familiar point of pain, because the very thing I’m called to do and love to do had severed the fellowship between a close family member and me. Her church forbade women to teach, preach, or hold any authority in the church, and in her eyes I was a heretic.
As I was getting ready, I thought, “If she could just hear me speak she would know that God has called me to this.”
When I arrived at the church my husband, Tom, and I pastored, New Life Church of the Open Bible, I joined Tom in his office for prayer. He said, “Guess who’s here this morning?”
I replied with a question, “Is it good?” and he asked “Isn’t it always good when someone comes to church?”
I commented, “I don’t know . . . you’re acting kind of funny.”
I took my place on the platform, looked over the congregation, and there she was! Not only was this rare, but I can’t recall her ever visiting our church. EVER. She was reading the bulletin, which boldly announced that I was preaching that morning. As she looked up, our eyes met and I gave her a “what can I say?” shoulder shrug! Well, I did preach that morning and after the service we hugged and she warmly complimented me on the message, and that was that. Fellowship restored.
The call of God is undeniable. Throughout history, He has anointed some of the most unlikely people to prove His unarguable power. When I was 27 years old, I came to my pastor at the time, Ernest Weaver, and told him I had a message burning in my heart and I didn’t know what to do with it. After talking with me, he asked me to share it that Sunday. His response after I shared was “Nancy, you’re called to preach.”
“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14, NKJV).
In 1993, after 19 years as an independent fellowship, New Life felt an urgency to affiliate with an existing movement. The decision was a huge step for our local church, and we embarked on an exhaustive search. Wanting to maintain the deed to our property, to be accountable but not controlled, and to hold to the practice that women should be recognized as ministers narrowed the field of prospective organizations. The day Dr. C. Russell and Mrs. Archer, then executive directors for the East region, walked through the doors of New Life Church, we knew we had found our family!
I thank God that as a woman in my twenties, I had a pastor who gave me an open pulpit to preach any time the Holy Spirit gave me a word. I thank God for Pastor Kelly Silvers, who encouraged me to pursue ordination as a minister with Open Bible Churches when I was in my early forties. I thank God for Dr. Archer, who ordained me and proclaimed over me as I knelt before the Lord, “PREACH THE WORD! PREACH THE WORD! PREACH THE WORD!” I thank God for my pastor, Randall Bach, who as our regional leader at that time, affirmed, encouraged, and gave me opportunities to minister in various capacities. I’m grateful to be part of an organization whose rich history includes women undeniably called of God. Above all, I thank God for my husband, Tom, who has honored me, covered me, encouraged me, and released me to fulfill the call of God on my life. No one held me back, and I did not hold back from the call of God.
God’s call is evident in different types of people and different types of ministries. We need to be the church that creates a climate to resource, release, and empower men and women who are undeniably called by God!
About the Author
At the age of 19, Nancy Rupli came to know Jesus Christ and His healing, life-changing power and love. Her speaking ministry, which began in 1979, focuses on winning the lost, preaching, teaching, and mentoring young leaders. She is an ordained minister with Open Bible Churches.