“As a child I loved church and it spilled
over into the games I played. I conducted church services and communions with the neighbourhood kids. My parents were new converts to the Adventist church and the love of Jesus had made such a great impact. They also told their story with joy and excitement to anyone who would like to listen – and quite a few more. When I grew a little older my dreams changed as I realize pastoring was ‘not for girls.’
“At sixteen, I helped the pastor visiting people who came to an evangelistic series. In one home an 18 year old girl living with her alcoholic parents could only receive guests in her own bedroom. So, I was the one visiting her – studying the bible with her and feeling the exuberant joy the day she gave her life to Jesus, and was baptized. – I wanted more of this!! I decided to study Theology at Newbold College. While there I read about E. G. White and some of the women of her time, preaching, teaching, and exercising their spiritual gifts. I came to realize that I could be a pastor after all. More than any other job, this was my dream.
“In my last year, the conference presidents came to the college to talk to the graduating students, but no one spoke to me. If that longing in my heart was really from God, then He would have to open a door (or even just a window). The window God opened for me was in the Arctic.
“My first year was hard. I often preached at the local church while I was a chaplain at our Adventist sanatorium in Tromsø. Though this was a congregation with many open minded people, I could still feel the coldness of some members. One lady in particular made it clear to me every time we passed. When I looked at her to say hello, she met my eyes, then demonstratively turned her head the other way – refusing to greet me. Interestingly, after hearing my testimony, she became a supporter of my ministry, together with some of the others whom at first had rejected me.
“As the first woman pastor I was always very careful not to rock the boat - I had to pave the way for other women to follow. I never complained when my colleagues were ordained, but not me. I knew I was ordained by God, and I prayed for Him to help me accept that this was enough until the church was ready to recognize my calling. My greatest fear was that I would turn bitter and no longer be effective.
“After eight years in ministry, they decided to have a commissioning prayer for me at camp meeting. My heart was filled with joy that finally someone would lay their hands on me, and set me aside for my ministry. Only minutes before the service the union president whispered to me: “We will, of course, not be laying our hands on you as we pray, because we don’t want to create any misunderstanding that this is an ordination.” I was lost for words. I was so disappointed! It is hard being the first, every commissioning after mine has been conducted by the laying on of hands.
“When women act sweet and soft in the boardroom or executive committee, men interpret it as being unassertive and without substance. So unconsciously they pass her when it is her time to speak. In order to be heard I had to act more forcefully, but find a balance so as not to be perceived as domineering. I had to interrupt, in at gentle but assertive manner. It was important to have something great to say when I spoke up. I think I spent twice as much time preparing for meetings as any of the men there. However, slowly things changed. My turn was never missed anymore. And I earned respect for my contributions.
“For the last five years the Executive Committee of the Norwegian Union has had many wise women. The men have gotten used to women taking rigorously part in the discussion and the decision making. And I have noticed, that if somebody gets overlooked, it is not any of the women – because they bring up such great contributions that everybody is eager to hear what they have to say.
“This is a description of my journey, along a route that has been discovered while traveling. I have been blessed to be one of the many vessels God is using to do His great work.”