By RuthAnne Irvin
Editor’s Note: The following story is a continuation of our series telling the narratives of young complementarians. We want to show how complementarianism impacts the lives of people directly, through their personal stories. Gloria Furman’s journey does just that. Furman is the author of two books (Glimpses of Grace and Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full) and ministers in Dubai with her husband (Dave) and their four children.
Gloria Furman grew up believing Jesus died as a “victim of a political game.”
“Despite my upbringing in the church, I was blind in my unbelief,” she said. “I didn’t understand that Jesus went to the cross specifically to atone for sins.”
As a freshman college student at the University of North Texas, Gloria Furman was tired. Her friends, classes, and hobbies left her worn, defeated and enslaved to sin. She was finished.
“I was really set in my sin and found no need for spiritual things until all of that came to a head, and I saw that it was actually destroying me instead of satisfying me.”
She began the hospitality services degree program at her school. She hoped to graduate and get a job, living as a self-made woman. She “had dollar signs in her eyes.”
During her first semester, she was sitting in the student union building with a few friends when a Christian student approached her. The girl asked Furman and her friends if they were Christians. Instinctively, Furman said yes “because I didn’t consider myself anything else.”
When the same girl invited Furman to join a Bible study, she agreed. The emptiness of her life continued to bother her. She enjoyed the fellowship with the student group, and as they began to inductively study the Gospel of John, she said she noticed a difference between the other people in the Bible study and herself.
As they studied deeper, she grew uncomfortable. The other students talked about the book “as if it were alive and meant something to them.”
But she wasn’t getting it.
“I was enslaved to so many different things that you couldn’t really define it by one particular thing. It was just the world I was consumed with. I was lost,” she said.
At that time, she tried to back out of the study, explaining her discomfort and response to the study to a friend. The friend suggested to Furman the reason she was struggling was because she was not saved.
At this moment, the gospel finally clicked in Furman’s mind and heart.
“This was the first time I realized that being a Christian wasn’t about your habits or nationality or upbringing,” she said. “God opened my eyes and I understood, for the first time ever, that Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem for a purpose.” She finally realized that the purpose was to save her from her sins.
After submitting her life to Christ, she was discipled and began to study Scripture. A group at her school began to study John Piper’s Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions, and Furman jumped at the opportunity. This began her interest in overseas ministry.
After her conversion, she also began attending a weekly evangelism class taught with the woman who discipled her. After the first semester of the class, Furman continued to attend because she enjoyed the teaching and fellowship; she also gathered prayer cards and connected with visitors each week.
Through the Bible study and visitations, Furman and her now husband, Dave, began to get to know each other. They didn’t know each other really well until Furman was in an accident that left her partially blind for a period of time. During her recovery, Dave, along with many others, helped her drive, read, write, even walk until after several surgeries that saved her eye.
Later, in 2002, Dave began seminary at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas. They married shortly after and she began to audit courses. A few years into seminary, a professor and his wife encouraged the Furmans to pray that God would provide financially for Gloria to pursue a degree alongside Dave.
The Furmans believed if it were God’s will, he would provide. So they prayed.
God provided, and after five years, both Furman and her husband completed master’s degrees. Six weeks before graduation, their first of a future four children was born.
God stirred Furman’s heart toward overseasministryin college, and while she and her husband were at seminary, they organized and led overseas trips for the college group at their church. As they traveled, they began praying and seeking possible future ministry opportunities overseas. Together, they desired to reach unreached people groups, and Dave wanted to pastor. They didn’t think these two were possible as one vocation, until they met one of the chapel speakers during their time at seminary. He later met with the Furmans to discuss his ministry and the Furmans knew that was the direction God was leading.
Today, they now serve in the Middle East with a church plant, Redeemer Church of Dubai, where Dave is a pastor.
In her daily interactions with women in the Middle East, she meets with women from “vastly different worldviews. She uses these interactions to teach women about the dignity of women, created imago Dei, but each with distinct roles.
“A lot of things are not assumed from a biblical worldview so we have a lot of work to do with laying foundations,” she said.
Unlike her salvation experience, her commitment to biblical womanhood was not a dilemma she wrestled with. As she studied Scripture it grasped her heart as clear and biblical. Furman grew up with a good model of biblical roles as she watched her parents navigate life and family and their faith, so this led her later to a deep commitment to God’s design for men and women. In both work and family life, she has made this belief her own through the years.
Furman’s passion for women to live faithfully in all areas of life, letting the gospel redeem every area of life began in her own home as a new mom. As she struggled to balance life and faith, Furman wrestled with letting all areas come under the lordship of Christ. In the past several years, as her family grew in size and she moved to the dusty plains of Dubai, she wrote two books about treasuring Christ in the midst of everyday life.
She wrote Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full as a “biblical theology of motherhood.” She wants busy moms to know the deep, satisfying love of Christ in the midst ofthe leftover chores, unfinished to-do lists and the busyness that comes with being a mom.
In her book, Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home, Furman writes that it “is about how God’s power in the gospel can transform us for his glory as we live by faith—right where we are in the mundane of our homes. It’s about how God has made us new in his likeness of true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24).”
She writes to encourage women of all life stages that God is working in the little moments of life that seem insignificant to the human eye but are working together for the good and sanctification of his people.
“Dirty dishes in the sink or red crayons smushed into an electrical socket by a curious toddler are not just worrisome ordeals in your otherwise uneventful day,” she writes. “They’re opportunities to see glimpses of grace.”
And from the dark times of college to the dusty desert of Dubai, the God Gloria Furman strives to treasure has led and guided each step of her story, letting her more than glimpse his grace, but know and believe it. Whether she’s changing diapers or ministering to women who know little about biblical womanhood, or writing a book, Furman’s greatest desire is to teach the gospel as the foundation to see women come to know Jesus deeply and fully, treasuring him even while their hands are full.
RuthAnne Irvin is the lead news writer for Southern Seminary and is working toward an English degree from the University of Louisville. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching the latest BBC shows or dreaming about Boston.
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