The Contributions Of Christian Women To The Pastoral Care And Counseling Ministry Of The Church – Part One
The history and contributions of women to Christianity in any field have not been my prerogative until this project. I have studied the lives and contributions of the Apostles and the Church fathers, neglecting the significant contributions of fellow Christian women. This project has widened my horizon in scholarship, and I am grateful to Professor Uka for giving me this opportunity.
Since the creation of our matriarch, Eve, women have played vital roles in the plans and purposes of God in the world. Women were and are still vessels of transformation in God’s vineyard and source of inspiration to men in the Christian ministry. Pastoral Care and Counseling are tailor-made for women, and women have excelled in the two over the years. Christian women made valuable contributions; they were (are) inestimable jewels, committed, dedicated, loving, and passionate about God. As I studied the lives of these Christian women, I found the common character traits that set them apart from the likes of Jezebel.
They walked faithfully with God, who used them and produced His fruits and godly attributes in them. God created women to helpmeet for men, and they found their passion and instinct in pastoral care and counseling. The status of women in early Christianity has been quite debated in recent decades; no doubt, it prompted the interest in the women’s movement in Western Countries today. I think the evidence is somewhat mixed. Indeed, there is evidence in the New Testament of women doing many things within early Christianity.
In Paul’s letters, he greets women and calls them co-workers, and Paul refers to one of them by a Greek word that means “deaconess.” Women’s activities in the New Testament Period are related to women’s role in the house churches, especially in pastoral care and counseling. The earliest Christian communities met in people’s houses because no churches existed. Women owned the houses in which the early Christians met, and this is very significant because they did not only provide coffee and cookies. They were prayer warriors and saw to the believers’ spiritual development.
I intend to showcase in this write-up women from various backgrounds, women belonging to different states’ statutes, races, and exposure. I will show that these Christian women exhibit Agape Love in pastoral care and counseling. Unfeigned practical love has a divinely generated magnetic power far more effective than any other evangelistic program. These Christian women contributed immensely to the growth of Christianity, and they deserve to be celebrated. They are true heroines of Faith and Christian Service. Let us all stand up and applaud them and their various contributions to the spread of the Good News through their selfless services.
At strategic times in Salvation history, God chose women and empowered them with His Spirit to carry out His will in extraordinary ways. God chose Mary to give birth to the Saviour. He chose another Mary as the first apostle to proclaim the Good news of Jesus’ resurrection. And God chose women in the early Church to pastor, teach, take care of, counsel and proclaim the gospel. Women were co-workers with Apostle Paul and joint heirs with Christ and their brothers in the Faith. Throughout the Centuries, God has called countless women and empowered them to fulfill both humble and high-profile assignments. Women have contributed immensely to pastoral care and counseling in Christian ministry.
Jesus Christ chose twelve male disciples and designated them, apostles. Many assume that Jesus traveled around with just his twelve apostles as companions. Still, the evidence proved that women traveled with Jesus Christ and were important figures in the Scripture. The lessons learned from these women are more subtle and valuable than those taught by men. Luke 8: 1- 3 days after this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their means. Like the male disciples, these women learned from Jesus Christ and contributed immensely to the upkeep of Jesus Christ and His disciples.
They also participated in counseling men and women that followed Jesus. These women were the forerunners responsible for pastoral care and counseling. The Apostolic mothers and wives (those that lived at the time of the apostles or immediately after) were more involved in pastoral care and counseling than Church planting or evangelical outreaches like today’s Pentecostal women. Their contributions were more towards the development and growth of the individual within the believer community (Church). They were involved in consultation, deliberation, and exchange of ideas. Their Christian call was to care for the brethren’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
These women helped uplift spiritual ecstasy and assisted those in need and spiritually poor. They brought the principles of God’s word (the Bible) to bear upon human problems. They trusted in the word of God, as directed by the Holy Spirit through prayers. These personalities range from women of the Old Testament, New Testament, 2nd to 5th century, women of early Quakerism, women in missions, women of the Azusa street revival, and many other celebrated women across the globe.
The various contributions of these Christian women to pastoral care and counseling will delight any Christian. They are highly commended for their various services to God and humanity, and they are role models to today’s young Christian women. These women showed unique love in their services and displayed exemplary character. Some of them did not stop at pastoral care and counseling; they went further by enlarging Churches dominated by male leadership and, after that, started women’s organizations and their ministries.
Women Of the Old Testament:
Among the women of the Old Testament are these six celebrated women whose contributions to pastoral care and counseling were evident in the Scriptures. They are Eve, Sarah, Miriam, Rahab, Deborah, and the widow of Zarephath. They existed before the birth of Jesus Christ, but they all believed in God and rendered services to God and Mankind.
The Hebrew is Chawwah; the name denotes ‘life.’ Eve was created as a helpmeet for Adam. Genesis 2: 18 says The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” From this Scripture passage, we can see that Eve was created to be a helper and companion for Adam. Eve was the first woman involved in pastoral care and counseling. Her contribution was both positive and negative.
The negative aspect of her counsel led to the fall of man. Her susceptibility to Satan’s deceit convinced her to eat the forbidden fruit and give the same to her husband. This mistake brought sin into the world. Despite this mistake, she stood by her husband, cared for his needs, and became the mother of life. Her role in the life of Adam and her sons included assisting them in their various endeavors, feeding and comforting Adam, especially when Cain killed Abel, and loving and encouraging her husband and sons. Without Eve’s support, Adam would have found it difficult to reach his actualization level after being driven from the garden of Eden.
Sarah, known initially as Sarai, was the wife of Abraham. A faithful and loving companion of Abraham though barren and childless initially (Gen. 11: 29-30). The fulfillment of the divine promise rests with Abraham and Sarah. Sarah’s change of name, unique among the women in the Bible, underlines this point (Gen. 17:15). Sarah supported, counseled, and cared for her husband and the entire household, making her become the matriarch of Faith. Christian wives, in order to avoid anti-Christian sentiment, are urged not to antagonize their non-Christian husbands (1 Peter 3: 1-4) but to be like Sarah and accept their husband’s authority (I Pet. 3:6).
Despite her long-time barrenness, she never stopped her pastoral care and counseling to her husband and the household members. She was a model for Christian perseverance under challenging circumstances. When Sarah moved from barrenness to fertility, she also moved from the margins to a position of significance. Her transformation is the basis for her contribution to the theology of the Scripture, in which she becomes a paradigm for divine intervention (Isaiah 51: 2-3), Christian freedom (Galatians 4:21 – 5:1), and virtuous perseverance.
Miriam was the sister of Moses and Aaron. She watched Moses in the ark of bulrushes (Exodus 2:4ff). Miriam, a prophetess, led the women in the song of victory at the Red Sea (Exodus 15:20f). In Micah 6:4, she is spoken of along with Moses and Aaron as a leader of the people. She contributed positively to pastoral care and counseling in the course of the wilderness wanderings of the Israelites.
Rahab was a prostitute in Canaan. Joshua sent two spies to assess the city before the Israelite invasion (Joshua 2). The two visited Rahab’s house, a local brothel, perhaps to be anonymous. However, the presence of strangers in Jericho, where a huge contingent of foreign nomads was camped nearby, aroused the interest of the local department of state (Josh. 2: 2-3), and the two men were forced to hide and flee. From an enemy state, Rahab risked her own life to protect the spies from discovery and aid their escape.
Her conviction was more potent than her fear of reprisal from the local authorities, so she seized the opportunity and acted to protect herself and her family from imminent death. She hid the spies beneath the flax on the roof as a mark of good Faith and ensured that the men swore an oath to protect her and her immediate family before she allowed them to go. Rahab’s action was attributed to Faith in the Scriptures (Hebrews 11: 31). It was even interpreted as righteousness (James 2:25). Rahab was placed alongside Abraham as a critical example of the significance of righteous actions in the life of the believer. Rahab then provides an illustration of God’s interest and concern for those outside the covenant community. 
Deborah achieved greatness as a judge, military leader, and poet (Judges 4 and 5). Deborah was a good mediator, adviser, counselor, and planner. She had all the leadership skills and a unique relationship with God. Deborah stands tall in history as a remarkable woman who contributed immensely to pastoral care and counseling. Whenever praise came her way, she gave God credit. Deborah’s life challenges women in many ways. She reminds the women of the need to be available to God and others. She was the fourth and only female judge of Israel. When called upon to lead, she could plan, direct and delegate. She was well known for her prophetic power and was a good writer of songs. She was married to Lappidoth and a contemporary of Barak, Jael, Jabin of Hazor, and Sisera.
The Widow Of Zarephath
This widow contributed to pastoral care to the extent that she was mentioned in 1 Kings 17. She was the epitome of service and endurance.
-  New Dictionary of Biblical Theology