Pentecost is Important for Women: Note the Voices of Girls!     

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

The wind blew and flames of the Spirit appeared. In Acts 2, the first Pentecost, Peter is preaching to a crowd of 2,000 men and women, including Mary, the mother of Jesus.


16) But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17) In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18) And on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days: and they will prophesy.

Fifty days after Easter, Pentecost is a much quieter celebration. This day deserves more attention, especially for the empowerment of women. Consider the rarity of female voices throughout written history. The recent attention given to three young women within a few years is remarkable. Many young women make the headlines and are photographed in entertainment and sports news, but how often do we hear the voices of girls speaking out and confronting important current issues, such as the environment, education, and equality?   

Greta Thunberg, born 2003 in Sweden, addressed the United Nations urging action on climate change and protesting the lack of action to make changes for the benefit of her generation.

Amanda Gorman, American born 1998, was center stage at the 2021 inauguration when she eloquently read her poem, “The Hill We Climb.” She expressed the frustrations of oppression and marginalization as a black woman.

Malala Yousafzai, Pakistan born 1997, at age 15 was shot in the head by the Taliban attempting to assassinate her because of her advocacy of girls’ education. She is the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

This is not a commentary on the relative merits of these young women, although the worthiness of the diverse causes they advocate for cannot be disputed. For the sake of our grandchildren, we are concerned for the care of the environment, the right of all people to thrive without discrimination, and access to education for all girls. I am not placing them in any order of importance, nor am I commenting on their relationship to Christianity or whatever religion they practice.  

I find it remarkable that these girls have made international headlines in their teens when most kids are just finding their voices. They have been gifted with unlikely expressive and thinking abilities for their age. Even more amazing, is the world is finally giving young females the microphone. They are invited to appear in important forums, where they speak eloquent words of wisdom and warning. When has this happened in the decades and even centuries past? Anne Frank comes to mind; earlier examples could be Sacagawea and Joan of Arc. Have I missed any more girls in their teens, or early twenties, whose voices are noted in history books? My goodness! One has to go back to Phillip’s daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9).  Is this silence because young females have never before been talented and articulate? Hardly! Their wisdom was never recorded, noted, or they simply were never given opportunities.

Is the prophecy of Joel, as quoted by Peter 2,000 years ago, finally breaking in? I am not making a prediction here about “the last days,” in which we have been living since the cross. I am saying that the prophesying voices of girls are one imminent sign of the kingdom ripening when all voices will be heard and equal. The Spirit is not a respecter of persons: the flame alights where she wills. I am also not claiming that the messages of the young women I mentioned above are practicing prophecy in the way that Peter predicted at Pentecost. Only that in the international secular world, these girls have achieved a platform that has been suppressed in Christianity.

How often are we hearing girls’ voices in the Christian world? Never! Girls are rarely asked to pray in public, read scripture, defend their opinions, their point of view, or present their thoughts. Why not? Is the sky going to fall? Can they not possibly have anything worthwhile to say? If they are never given the opportunity, even to fail, they will never have skills and self-confidence. Of course, that is where many churches want to keep them: silent. Boys will be given opportunities and even allowed latitude to flounder in their growth into leadership possibilities. Girls have to go outside the church to develop. That is my point in this essay: Young women are capable, they just need the opportunity. How much wisdom has been lost because girls’ talents were silenced? I remember many times I wished I had spoken up as a girl, but I would have been slapped down. If we are looking for girls to prophecy as Peter predicted, churches must allow it to happen. This is the message of Pentecost.

I have always been an advocate for the empowerment of girls. Many years ago, I listened to a sermon on the daughter of Jairus (Matthew 9:18-25; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56). I grew increasingly furious as the parts of Jesus, Jairus, and the disciples were highlighted, but why was the girl’s experience never considered?

Her story was the first that I wrote, and then I added the stories of four more New Testament girls and five Old Testament girls, for a total of ten girls. I emphasize − I chose girls who could believably be not more than twelve to fourteen years old in their biblical setting. A few are named; most are not. Some are well-known, but most are mentioned in only a sentence.

It is vitally important that today’s girls are empowered by seeing themselves in the Bible and the important ways they used their voices.

For sample stories from Bold Girls Speak: Girls of the Bible Come Alive Today, published by Wipf & Stock, 2013. See my website at marystromerhanson.com

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