Is it unfavorable for a woman to be theologically trained, especially going as far as gaining a master's degree for it? I had a purpose for choosing to be trained at WSC. I wished to translate theological books into the Japanese language in order that more valuable and updated publications may be introduced to Japanese believers. When I was just about to finish my study at Westminster in 2011, I was full of hope for how God would use me back home in Japan. My church had created a position for me to work as a full-time staff member because of my skills in translation and newly gained perspective on theology. But things went nothing like I expected.
I suppose not many WSC graduates go back to a “non-Reformed” church after graduation, but that was my situation. Although my home church so generously supported me during my study and was happy to have me back, the knowledge I gained was not really welcomed. They wanted a full-time laborer, but not a “reformer.” I struggled with not having the opportunity to make even a small use of my experience at seminary and having no voice in theological disagreements. If I were a man, this might have been different. Moreover, the church was going through a rough time and there was a split among the congregation. My conviction for Reformed beliefs grew stronger after having a wonderful experience at WSC, but it brought disharmony when I went back home. At around the same time, God even closed the door for translation work also.
I was very disappointed, as my post-seminary life did not go as I imagined. However God's thoughts are indeed beyond my thoughts. He gave me new roles in which to work as a wife and a mother. I got married a month after returning to Japan, and then had a baby within a year. What a change from being a student!
Although it’s been only 2 years being married, I am experiencing the joy of being a helper to my husband. Mostly that means to serve behind him and let him shine out in the world at his best. People see him, but not me. I daily learn to be humble, and I am of course far from being a perfect wife yet, but serving becomes a pleasure if I am confident that my husband loves me. Paul teaches in Ephesians 5:33 that husbands are to love their wives and wives are to obey their husbands. I think that order is essential. When the former is done, the latter comes naturally. God initially created a woman to be a helper of a man. I suppose I used to have a desire to be significant in church, in a translation career, and any other roles I might be given. But now I am discovering to be content and joyful when I remain unseen.
Having said that, I of course wish to share the knowledge I gained at seminary, and still want to pursue a translation career if the opportunity arises. Yet until that time, God confirms to me daily the value of theological study and knowing the Lord in such depth. Teaching children the truth of the gospel is definitely one of those ways. It is wonderful if women succeed in their professions or in the academic field. But for now, in this season of my life, I believe God intends to teach me a valuable lesson to equip me for future work.
Lastly, I hope that those who read this brief post would remember Japanese churches in their thoughts and prayers. Please join me in praying that believers in Japan may have a deeper desire to seek the truth of the gospel, to glorify God and enjoy him to the fullest.
Nozomi Kusunoki graduated in 2011 with master of arts in biblical studies, and she now lives in Osaka, Japan. Here is her student profile.
This post continues our Wednesday series on Women & Theology. For more posts in this series go here.