Nancy SehestedThe doors opening onto dark, empty rooms told me, “We will not all persevere here.” Returning from winter break after my first semester of seminary, I was greeted by empty rooms on the hall where I lived. As my neighbors returned, we gathered in the hallway asking, “Did you know S was not coming back? I heard M returned to Africa. I think her scholarship was up. Do you know about K?” My neighbors and I were humbled to know that some of us had decided that this was not the right place at the right time and had quit.

Up until that moment, I had not known quitting was an option. I was riding the adrenaline rush of getting accepted to seminary and then managing the first semester of academics. I thought we were safely on our way, but the empty rooms told me we were not.

There were other days that presented good opportunities for quitting. In our senior year, we were interviewing for ministry positions. Pam BWIM 30thAt the lunch table, a friend shared about her experience with a search committee. She began with “I don’t think I got the job. I was downright rude when the elderly gentleman asked me, ‘Who is minding your children so you could be at this meeting tonight?’” Her hung head made me wonder, “Are we going to make it?”

Last month, at the meetings of Baptist Women in Ministry and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the theme, “Never Give Up” seemed to run through all the sermons. As I joined over 1,000 attendees, I listened to Pam Durso, executive director of BWIM, welcome us to the organization’s Thirtieth Anniversary Gathering. What ran through my mind was, “I am so glad she never gave up.” Not that Pam has ever shared that she may have considered quitting, but I know that she has had many roles in her career as professor, mother, historian, and author. I know she must have endured roadblocks and detours on her journey. And I am glad she has not given up her voice for women in ministry.

Anne Thomas Neil and RebaDuring a luncheon at the CBF General Assembly, I sat by a fellow woman in ministry. She has had a long and rich career. I asked her what had kept her going over the years, and she said, “I always just did what needed doing. I didn’t listen to the people who told me that I didn’t belong. I found a place of need and worked there.” I thought, “Thank God she did not give up on her call.”

As I listened to the words preached by Nancy Sehested and Wendell Griffen about the enduring courage of those who have come before us and about our continual call to carry on the Good News, I found myself thanking God for ministers who did not give up. Familiar faces of mentors, colleagues, and friends came to mind, and I kept praying, “Thank you, God. Thank you.” I am thankful for all those who did what needed doing and kept on keeping on even when giving up was an option.

Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, regular contributor to BWIM’s blog, mother of two amazing daughters, teacher for children’s Sunday School, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.