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How Do You Preach the Gospel and Breastfeed? Adventures of a Female Evangelist

862408_10152647148700648_659985158_nI’m thrilled to be featuring a guest post from Jessica Fick, who I met last week on Twitter and promptly fell in love with. (The fact that she happened to be in Wisconsin right then for an evangelistic crusade at UW-River Falls didn’t hurt, either–the photos in this post are from that.) Enjoy! 

I pulled into the McDonalds parking lot with my 5-month old son Oswald crying in the backseat because he was hungry. On a cold November afternoon I was driving to Detroit to help the InterVarsity chapter Oakland University chapter with an evangelistic outreach.  A colleague Nicole who had flown in from California was traveling with me to see an example of a female evangelist with a family and I was grateful for her company to give Ozzy his pacifier if it fell out and have someone to talk with on the three-hour drive from Cleveland.  Though Nicole had thoughtful question about particular challenges as an itinerant female evangelist she was seeing all the glamor of my life as I scootched into the backseat to lift Ozzy out of his car seat and nurse him. Later she would see kind students and colleagues hold him while I preached the gospel, me popping him in his near-by stroller to sleep while engaging students in the student union about their spiritual beliefs and holding him on my hip after the meeting to the delight of students who love babies and rarely see them on campus.

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Martasia (L) came to interVarsity for the fist time during Jessica’s crusade and prayed for Jesus to lead her life.

Before I had kids I remember being at an national evangelism conference where I scoured the program hoping to find a woman with whom I could pepper with questions- “how does this all work when you have kids? What do you wear when you preach? Did your church support you in this call on your life? How about your husband?” Any time I had asked other male role models about how they balanced family life while traveling they had stared at me quizzically and shrugged  “My wife stays home with the kids and sometimes they travel with me.”  I’d ask friends and colleagues who I could look to as examples of female evangelists and would get the same answer: Becky Pippert, author of the amazing book Out of the Saltshaker and former InterVarsity staff.

After emailing her to see if she’d be able to meet for a meal at a conference Becky graciously sat down with me and answered as many of my questions as I could squeeze into our breakfast meeting.  I was grateful for this meeting but it also made me long for more female evangelists who were seeking Jesus and trying to honor him in their call to preach the gospel. It just seemed like there needed to be more of us out there.

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Jessica with Lindsey, who decided to follow Jesus that night. “Christianity has meant nothing to me for my whole life until this year. Tonight I knew it was time to start following Jesus!”

The role of the evangelist has practically been eliminated from the church, horrible stereotypes of evangelists persist and there aren’t many female role models in this area of ministry.  Yet it is possible to have beautiful feet that bring good news even if those feet are sorely in need of a pedicure and have been going for 14-hours to make sure meals are cooked, sermons are written and children are tucked into bed at night. In many ways it is easier to minister as an evangelist because I don’t fit a stereotype. I’m able to gain trust, build rapport and demonstrate that I’m not a freaky Jesus salesperson- I’m a woman who loves to preach Jesus, wear red lipstick, live out the adventure of life with him and invite others to do the same. Well, maybe not the lipstick part.  It’s been a joy to see young women’s faces light up as they see someone who looks like them preach the gospel without apology. Someone who can paint a picture of life with Jesus that is seeking to be obedient to him in multiple spheres.

My hope in schlepping my baby all over the Midwest to proclaim Jesus on the college campus is that other women will see that it is possible. Sharing stories about my incredible husband who prays for me and encourages me in God’s call on my life helps other women to see a marriage that is seeking to submit to Jesus and to one another.  2 Corinthians 12:9 has come to mind often as I’ve struggled with the challenge of living out my call as a wife, mother and evangelist.  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is photo 3made perfect in weakness.” In the moments I’ve been exhausted from parenting, being on the road preaching or the inevitable spiritual attacks that come before, during and after I preach Jesus continues to strengthen me through his power, protection and love. As I seek to be faithful with the gifts Jesus has entrusted to me His grace has been sufficient for my family and me.

When she is not building Lego’s with her sons, listening to records with her husband, trying to squeeze in a run or bake a loaf of bread, Jessica Fick serves with InterVarsity Christian fellowship as a Regional Evangelism Coordinator in a 4-state region in the Midwest to preach the gospel, teach and train in churches and campus groups across the country. You can find her blogging at www.sidewalktheologian.com

 

 

22 Responses to How Do You Preach the Gospel and Breastfeed? Adventures of a Female Evangelist

  1. grace at {gabbing with grace} March 20, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    You’re doing a stellar job at it, Jess! I’m so glad your out there paving the way for future Mommy/evangelists & Mommy Ministers. So proud. *tear* =)

  2. Jessica Fick March 20, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    Aww, thanks G! Glad you have been there to pray for me and encourage me in this calling!

  3. perfectnumber628 March 20, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    Great post! :)

  4. Kelly J Youngblood March 20, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    Loved this. I brought my almost-one-year-old (at the time) with me on a spring break mission trip I’d planned for the college where I worked, so I totally get the “how do you do ministry and breastfeeding” question!

    • Jessica Fick March 20, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

      Awesome Kelly! Such a great example for students to see that having kids doesn’t mean you have to stop doing ministry! You just bring a hooter hider nursing cover along!

      • Kelly J Youngblood March 22, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

        Yeah, except he absolutely hated having his head covered, ever since he was a newborn, so… had to just do a little camouflaging instead!

  5. Francie Winslow March 20, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    This is so great, Jess! You REALLY do a fantastic job of modeling this for women…myself included!!!

  6. Jessica Fick March 20, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    Thanks Francie! So glad we are in this journey together of sharing Jesus and parenting little ones.

  7. Tim March 20, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    Jess, except for the breastfeeding part, your description of how you managed the car seat, having friends hold your child while you were on stage, and putting a napping baby in a stroller while you visited with students sounds just like what I did with my two kids when I would lead music rehearsals and services. What a wonderful set of memories you brought to mind this morning!

    Cheers,
    Tim

    P.S. You might want to see what I just wrote for Think Christian on working moms and the problems some people seem to have with Proverbs 31: http://thinkchristian.net/modern-parenthood-and-the-myth-of-the-proverbs-31-woman

  8. Jenny Rae Armstrong March 20, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

    Jessica, I just have to say again how much I loved this post. Thanks for braving the adventure and being a role model!

  9. Seth March 20, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    Wow… I’ve never heard a woman preach, let alone evangelize! How do you do evangelism? Do you preach through a megaphone? Or talk to individuals? I’m super curious. :).

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong March 21, 2013 at 10:35 am #

      I would imagine she does it the same way men do it, only with better hair. 😀 But seriously–you’ve never heard a woman preach, or even evangelize? Brother, you are missing out! Jesus sent women as evangelists, and when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, both men and women went out and began to preach the good news. If we’re not following that pattern today, it’s to our shame, and a HUGE loss to the world and the church.

  10. Seth March 21, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    Nope, I never have Jenny :). I’ve never been in groups that support that idea. I’m working through the theology of it myself, but I do think there needs to be more equality. Just not sure how it should look like yet. Further complicating things for myself is the fact I’m not a big fan of traditional churches. So I don’t really encourage men or women toward monologue preaching styles too much.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong March 21, 2013 at 11:04 am #

      I hear you about monologue preaching styles, although I think there’s definitely still a place for that. But let’s fix that “never heard a woman preach” thing. 😀 It occured to me that I have a link to a message my friend Arloa (a sweet grandma who runs a homeless center in inner-city Chicago) preached at her church for Mother’s Day last year. It might seem a little “out there” at first if you’re from a very conservative background (it talks about some of the feminine imagery used to describe God in the Hebrew, particularly surrounding God’s compassion), but I think it’s a sweet message from a female minister who adores Jesus, particularly if you bear in mind that it’s a Mother’s Day message and that female pastors don’t always talk about such “feministy” things. http://arloasutter.blogspot.com/2012/05/el-shaddai-compassionate-mother-hen.html I just couldn’t think of another female preacher with messages online to recommend right off hand.

      • Tim March 21, 2013 at 11:51 am #

        On women preachers, I once read an interview where Billy Graham said the best preacher in his family is his daughter Anne.

  11. Seth March 21, 2013 at 10:50 pm #

    Thanks Jenny, I’ll have a listen

  12. Kathy March 23, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    This post reminds me of us heading off to Bible college with a toddler and a breast-fed baby. My church history lecturer knew it was break time when he would look up to see my husband waiting at the door with said baby. Quick feed in the break – and if he took too long hubby would go in and keep writing notes for me. Somehow we made it through!

    • Tim March 27, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

      Great parenting arrangement, and great professor!

  13. Julie April 16, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    Go, Jess, Go! It took me a few weeks to get used to it, but in the end I loved taking each of my daughters with me for a year or so while I was breast-feeding and preaching the Gospel. It felt symbolic to me that in their earliest weeks and months they were participating in mission. I always call them my ‘junior campus ministers’ because they are always better at drawing a crowd than I am. :) I’m grateful for your example and encouragement as we learn together how to ‘focus on the family’ AND the Kingdom!

  14. Kennedy Omondi June 15, 2016 at 10:18 am #

    Oh! this so great. In our community women are not given opportunity to preach the gospel. Female gender are discriminated. How I wish Jessica and other female evangelists would get their way to our community for open air crusade. I know our premitive culture we soon be exposed and removed. I love you Jessica for the courage you have.

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