I Have a Dream

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I Have a Dream

Written by Ardis Stenbakken

(This is really not a sermon, but a keynote address. It can be used for congresses, conventions, or women’s training, or any time one is presenting what Women’s Ministries is all about. It is presented here in the style of presentation notes that Ardis normally uses.)

In August of 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King

delivered a famous speech

before a vast audience in Washington, D.C.

—an audience of people who had suffered,

who did not have equal rights.

He was the famous African-American civil rights leader.

In the speech he said,

“I have a dream….”

 

He had a dream that his children would be judged

by their character

and not the color of their skin,

dreams and hopes for the future,

qualities that he was willing to work for,

and ultimately die for.

 

I too have a dream.

I have a dream for the women of this church.

A dream for each of you.

 

To dream is a good thing.

God has often spoken to His people through dreams.

 

But some people day-dream.

Most day dreaming is done lying down.

These dreamers dream about

riches and power,

money and privilege.

The person does nothing and nothing happens.

A vision without a task is a dream;

A task without a vision is drudgery.

The two must be combined for success.

 

But I have a dream,

a dream for you and me,

one that I am willing to work for,

to live for.

And this dream can happen when women are empowered to serve.

It is not a day dream.

It can happen

because it can be through the One

Who gives dreams and visions

and Who makes them come to pass.

The One who truly empowers us.

 

The early church too had dreams.

They had dreams because God had given them a task to do,

a vision of what could be.

They were to take the gospel to the whole world.

They were to turn the world upside down.

 

In Acts 2:17-21 Peter gives the Old Testament basis for this dream. Men and women, young and old,

would dream dreams and prophesy.

And that is the basis for my dream as well.

 

17In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.

 

I have a dream.

It is a dream that pictures

every woman in the church becoming empowered,

especially the women who are willing to accept leadership.

It pictures a strong Women’s Ministries department in every church.

with a Women’s Ministries leader elected by every church

and sitting on every church board,

representing the women of every church.

 

So my dream depends on you!

 

I have a dream of every woman finding

and using her spiritual gifts.

Growing strong spiritually herself

And helping others grow spiritually.

 

I have a dream of women becoming involved

in serious Bible study.

That she may know for herself

what God really says about women’s roles.

That she will be able to share this biblical understanding

of scripture from the woman’s point of view

with those around her.

This is where empowerment to serve must come from

 

I dream of women’s Bible study groups in every church.

And women’s prayer groups in every church.

From these will flow ministry groups of all types.

Women’s Ministries is not Women’s Club

Or Women’s Society.

It is Women’s Ministries,

meeting the many and varied spiritual,

emotional and material needs of women.

 

Furthermore, I have a dream

that every one of our daughters,

grand-daughters,

nieces,

every young woman in our church

will know her value before Christ.

She will understand from scripture

that she has as much value

as any boy,

any man.

That she is valued by her church.

 

We must empower our young women to say no to pre-marital sex.

That she does not have to sell or give her body

to any one,

in any way. to be accepted.

 

That she does not deserve to be abused.

Ever.

In any way.

She will feel so good

about what Jesus Christ has done for and through her

that the things the world offers for value

and self esteem

will have no attraction for her.

 

We must speak out against Female Genital Mutilation;

We must also speak out against pornography;

We must speak out and act against prostitution;

We must speak out and act against human trafficking,

Or any other type of exploitation of women for any purpose.

 

It is my dream that every woman

who has been hurt, abused, used,

will find healing in Jesus Christ.

And that she will find complete acceptance

in the Adventist church.

I think of Mary Magdalene

from whom seven devils were cast out.

She was totally accepted by Jesus Christ

and was part of his inner circle of disciples

according to Luke 8.

I think too of the woman caught in adultery—

“neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more,” Jesus said.

 

I have a dream.

That every man,

every woman,

every child,

will know that they can be safe from abuse

in their Adventist Christian home,

and in the church,

the church school,

or any of the activities associated with them.

I know there will be no abuse in heaven.

So I dream of the day when as Christians we will stop abuse.

 

The first step is to admit it happens.

We must teach our boys and girls a better way

To deal with anger and power.

We will talk about stopping abuse,

educating to make it stop.

Our church must be a safe place.

It is my dream too

that it will be a place where people outside

our church can come

and know they will be helped

and they will be safe.

 

I dream of a church where every woman has an opportunity

of an education

In Women’s Ministries we have a scholarship program,

but it is limited.

We must find ways to increase the number of scholarships

And opportunities for our women who also

Dream the impossible dreams.

I encourage you to find out about our SOS program—

Scholarshiping Our Sisters

and becoming involved—you can make a difference.

 

I have a dream

that every woman in our church

will have the opportunity to learn to read.

So she can read her Bible.

She can read the Sabbath school lesson to her children

or grand-children.

She can read the directions on a medicine bottle,

fill out a job application,

take church leadership.

Further, that we will extend this ability

to every man,

woman,

and child in our community.

 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our Adventist churches

would become known as the place you could go

if you want to learn how to read and write?

Where people care about you and will teach you?

Where you can learn to read the Bible?

 

I dream of using literacy and second language training

to take the gospel

to those who don’t know Jesus,

planting new churches as we go.

It is my dream that someday soon

our colleges and seminaries will teach our teachers,

our pastors

and even pastors’ wives

how to do literacy tutoring

so that they can use it for outreach.

 

I have a dream.

A dream that every woman in our church

will have access to basic women’s health information.

That every woman will know the facts about HIV/AIDS

How to prevent it—

Even if she is married

and her husband may be exposed to AIDS;

How to care for those who have it;

How to educate others regarding it;

And yes, how to financially and physically

care for the children AIDS infected parents leave behind, many of whom have AIDS as well.

That every woman will know

how to do self-breast exams,

have current helpful information about reproductive health and how to care for her body.

 

If the woman is married,

I dream that she will have training

in how to care for her husband and children

through good nutrition,

through healthful vegetarian cooking,

and clean and hygienic house keeping.

 

I have a dream.

A dream of homes in which the husband and wife

both encourage each other

to use his/her spiritual gifts

 

And both encourage the children

To dream big dreams

of expanded and imaginative service;

both encourage girls

to be prepared for the world that awaits them

both encourage boys

to be fully prepared to appreciate their softer-

side feelings and emotions

 

I dream of a church in which men are fully comfortable

with their manhood,

men who do not feel women are a threat or competition

 

A world in which women show appreciation

to husbands

sons

fathers

for all they do to make our world safe and comfortable

 

And for their past leadership of the church.

and to encourage them to continue to serve the Lord

as their spiritual gifts direct.

I dream of a church where men and women can serve together,

forgetting gender,

only assessing ability.

All submitting and encouraging as we read in Ephesians 5:21.

 

I have a dream.

A very possible dream,

that every woman will have an active mentor.

A mentor who will help her reach her full potential

personally,

spiritually,

professionally.

Age is no barrier

—anyone can mentor

and all of us can benefit from mentoring.

I know I do.

 

We have hundreds and thousands of young women

who are raising our next generation of church members.

My dream is that if they want to

they can stay and home

and care for these children

and feel totally blessed

and fulfilled.

Or if she chooses to work outside the home,

that the church will help her in whatever way possible,

and help with her children.

It is especially my dream

that as a church we help and support our single mothers who struggle to raise her children in the Lord.

 

I have a dream.

That every woman may have the opportunity

to support her family economically.

That she can learn the principles

of time and money management

so she can support her church as well.

 

And yes, I dream that single women too can feel fulfilled

and can take their places in church leadership and activities.

That they can feel like whole persons regardless of

marital status.

That these single women will be valued for their personhood.

 

I have a dream.

A dream of Women’s Ministries meeting very real needs

in a very real world.

A world where women can make a very real difference.

 

Women’s Ministries is not a department

just for the sake of having another department,

of giving someone another job to do.

Women’s Ministries is to make a difference for women,

to help them realize their dreams.

So again, you are necessary to the fulfillment of my dream.

You, empowered to serve, will make the difference.

 

Joel and Peter say

that it is a sign of the last days when

men and women,

old and young,

dream dreams

and see visions

and go out to the world to prophesy,

to share with the world the good news

that Jesus is coming soon.

 

I have a dream—

it was a dream

it is now becoming a reality

of women doing public evangelism.

It is happening all over these divisions.

We must each become involved and support them.

 

I have a dream of Women’s Ministries,

Women empowered to serve,

reaching out in their communities

through a variety of programs

Building friendships

Breaking down prejudice

Reaching out to Muslim brothers and sisters

Reaching out to other Christians

Reaching Buddhist brothers and sisters

Hindu brothers and sisters

Animist brothers and sisters

Helping them to know the real Jesus.

 

I dream of reaching the upper classes of society.

Ellen White says women are especially suited for this

Going into homes, studying and praying.

 

If we leave here with the same ideas we came with

The same fears

The same inadequacies,

This congress (convention/training) will be a failure

 

But if we can dream new dreams,

See new possibilities

Gain new strengths from our sisters and brothers

Find new empowerment to serve,

Learn new skills

Learn new methods

Learn new ideas

We can go home empowered to serve

to help our sisters,

the other 9+ million Adventist women

dream new dreams too,

to feel new hope

to empower them also to dream and to serve,

then this gathering will truly be blessed by God.

 

Because we are members of a church

A religious community,

And not a government or Non-Governmental Organization,

We must act in total trust and cooperation with the Holy Spirit.

We must act in the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

 

We must each have a personal relationship with a God

Who really cares for His daughters.

This will be the basis for our dreams

Our visions,

Our reaching out to our sisters in the church

And in our communities.

 

I have a dream.

Won’t you please dream with me?

And then let’s together make our dreams come true.

12/15/2004

 

About the Sermon Writer: Ardis Dick Stenbakken edits the submissions to the General Conference Women’s Ministries devotional book. She And her husband, Dick, a retired Army chaplain, have two married adult children and one granddaughter. Ardis especially enjoys helping women discover their full potential in the Lord. She has retired and moved to Colorado.