As a newly minted council member for the Evangelic and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus, aka EEWC, I feel like a recent convert to the faith — jubilant to be a part of something wiser, older, and larger than myself but ignorant of the proper protocol, language, and pleasantries amongst the seasoned disciples.
Feeling a tad lonely but hesitant to come to any quick judgments about my cohorts, I sat down to read the story of Saul’s conversion to Christianity. Now here was a guy who didn’t belong. He likely provoked fiery gossip — yes, even from that group of Spirit-spitting men — about the sincerity of his new found passion. Acts 9:19b says he spent a few days with the disciples after his conversion. Yet not more than ten chapters later in verse 26, we read that he tried to join the disciples back in Jerusalem but they were afraid, not believing that he was really one of them. They were hesitant to accept the freshman as a true companion and not just a wannabee pledge.
And, then, like out of an 80’s teen movie where the popular girl sticks up for the dweeb pretzled in the locker, Barnabus stood up for him. Vouched for all the inspired preaching he’d done in Damascus. Maybe even exaggerated a story or two to gain the new guy some respect. And so, verse 28, says “Paul stayed with them.”
I’m grateful for the Barnabus’s (or Barnabie’s — is that how you’d feminize?) in the EEWC that have sought to bridge the gap between me — the wide-eyed new recruit eager to change the world with her Gen Y optimism and irrationality — and the council members — the been-there-done-that regime looking to enact change that extends beyond the personality (or prophet) of the month.
Because we all need a Barnabus, someone to recall our victories for us, someone to brag when we’re too intimidated to do so, someone to demand that our courage be counted. And we, women especially, all need to be a Barnabus to someone. Maybe not now. But soon — when your reputation finally means something to your cohorts but no longer to you.