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Launching into Womanhood

Interview with Amy F. Davis Abdallah, professor at Nyack (New York) College

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AL: Briefly describe the ministry you launched.

The transition from girl to woman is one of the most significant in a female’s life, yet without guidance that instills confidence in one’s identity, many flounder. To give this guidance, I led the creation of Woman, a yearlong rite of passage for Nyack College seniors, designed to help them embrace their identity as Christian women.

Woman creates space for discussion about a woman’s relationship with God, self, others, and creation through individual mentoring, small-group meetings with peers, larger group meetings with the leaders, reading, and other group activities. It is a community endeavor that transforms lives.

How did God uniquely prepare you for this ministry?

Woman is a gift I wish someone had given to me.

womanhood
Young Nyack College women pray during the Woman initiation ceremony in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Amy F. Davis Abdallah)

My church indirectly taught that womanhood was found in the roles of wife and mother; having neither role for many years, I questioned whether I was a girl or a woman. When I still questioned it at 30, I began a journey of naming myself “woman” and seeking its definition.

That journey led to a PhD dissertation on rites of passage for Christian women, which finally resulted in Woman. Thus, Woman is undergirded by years of solid research and life experience and has been created in a community of women who believe that roles don’t define us, but God does.

What’s one risk you took to launch this work?

While many think of me as confident, when it comes to sharing what is closest to my heart, I tend to shrink back, afraid that others will reject my thoughts. So, while I had done significant research and created a great plan, I was terrified to bring it to the world because its format is unique. It involves ritual, and not everyone likes ritual. It’s a rite of passage, and some people think it is unnecessary.

It felt very risky to start something new that could fail. I stepped out in faith mixed with fear and have found success, thank God.

Share an example of what God’s done through Woman to build His Kingdom.

We have empowered and launched more than 80 alumnae to serve the world in their callings. Woman gave some courage to follow a career path, empowered others with confidence and a voice to now be in healthy relationships, and allowed still others to simply realize the freedom to be who God uniquely designed them to be.

womanhood-book
The Book of Womanhood by Amy F. Davis Abdallah

The teachings of Woman have also transformed mentors, moms, and the community of Nyack College, uniting women across ethnic, age, and other barriers. We walk the journey of womanhood together and rejoice as each new group completes the rite of passage.

What’s your advice for someone desiring to step out as you did?

Three times the Lord said to Joshua, Be strong and courageous (Joshua 1), and I would say the same to someone who wants to launch a new ministry. If the Lord has given you a unique vision and your community is behind you, step out in strength and courage. If it is not of the Lord, it will not last, but if it is of the Lord, it will bring great growth to the Kingdom.

Sometimes we need to be encouraged not once, not twice, but three times to let go of our self-doubt and trust in the Lord.

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