Heart to Heart: Sylvia D. Carter

 Sylvia D. Carter believes that the ministry of women is important because it dynamically connects to the foundation of the family, which can and should be the most powerful influence on our children, the next generation of believers. Sylvia gave us the opportunity to interview her for our heart to heart feature.

Inside Woman: Please share your testimony of how you came to know Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Saviour?

Sylvia D. Carter: I grew up in a military family moving from one location to other with each duty station of my father. My mother was a strong believer in raising her children in Church. In middle school I taught Sunday school on base and vacation Bible school each year. After graduating from college, I attend a revival at my Church and gave my life to Christ during an altar call.

Inside Woman: Why Christianity and are there are roads leading to God?

Sylvia D. Carter: I whole heartedly rely on the Word of God and find truth in ‘John 14:6 when Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man can come to the Father, but by me".  I believe exactly what the Word says that Jesus is the only Way through which we can see God.

Inside Woman: In what ways can women be a model of Christ in their everyday life?

Sylvia D. Carter: In Romans 10 Paul talks about saints in general not submitting to God. I believe any woman who grabs hold of this scripture and lives it can be an awesome model of Christ in everyday life. Christ walked in total submission to the Father and this empowered Him. I believe as women that the more submitted to the Word we are, the more powerful we will be. Romans 10:3is sound doctrine: “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God”.

Inside Woman: What do you perceive to be some of the most pressing issues or concerns facing women in the Church today?

Sylvia D. Carter: Women have difficulty finding their place in ministry. There are times when God assigns certain roles for women in ministry but most women struggle with finding their identity. God says that He knows the plans for us but there will always be distractions that interfere with that purpose. Often times it is traditionalism in some churches which can cause a struggle for many women when they want to submit to God’s will for their lives.

Inside Woman: Tell us about the challenges and obstacles you have encountered when you a younger woman, and how did you overcome them.

Sylvia D. Carter: I struggled like any young woman who comes from the world and having to walk in Christ's way for my life. Singleness is still the number one struggle for our young Christians.  Companionship is key. I believe that the more we become involved in ministry there more we lead fuller lives in Christ. This usually happens when we have leadership that allows their youth to become more involved in ministry. It’s not always about sexual desires or needs but it’s about sensing that we belong and we are cared for.

Inside Woman:  How do we deal with the instant gratification in the Church? So many women want the platform? 

Sylvia D. Carter: James 1:4 says to let patience have her perfect work, that we may be perfect and complete, wanting nothing.  Growth and maturity must be developed before we stand on any platform. Women must know and accept who they are in Christ completely. Self-love is the first key before you can take on any platform because the platform should be used to inspire others.

Inside Woman: How do we cultivate the gifts that God has given us so that when He calls us we are ready?

Sylvia D. Carter: 2 Timothy 2:1 5 admonishes men and women to, “study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth".  I believe it starts with intimacy with God through reading the Bible and a strong Church will “equip” you. The same verse also speaks of other benefits. First, as workmen, we should not be ashamed so that we can stand before God’s people knowing we are ready. A good Bible College would benefit anyone wanting more knowledge in the Word. It will help prepare you when God calls.

Inside Woman: Why do we need the guidance of our spiritual parents as women?

Sylvia D. Carter: Remember every child is different and unique but so is every spiritual parent. Many have busy schedules but when they are around we must listen more than talk because their wisdom is shown in a variety of ways. How we respond to adversity, how we walk in faith, will be determined by how close we are to those who cover us. They give us the covering we need when we go forth in ministry. My experience may be different from another woman but all of us need a covering, a point of contact to keep us in line or a source of accountability.

Inside Woman: The Bible says older women teach younger women. What lessons do you teach the young women that God has given you about being godly women and wives? 

Sylvia D. Carter: All women basically have the same make up and we are all the daughters of the King. We must respect one another and know that we are not perfect Christians, but God will honour all of our efforts. I let women know that they will have to juggle responsibilities as wives, mothers, employees and friends but they have to know that their faith has to be in God to accomplish all that God has designed for them to do. Women need to know that God does not call us to be perfect but we must still be confident in His love and that He accepts us as we are in Him.

Inside Woman:  There are so many negative influences bombarding women from a very early age about what is acceptable, attractive and appropriate. How can women combat and avoid these poor influences to ensure that they are God instructed rather than world instructed?

Sylvia D. Carter: Women need to avoid any self-esteem issues that affect their beliefs and should stop basing everything on their emotions because this could lead to failure or disappointment. It is important that they establish relationships with people who have the same values and beliefs as they do. A woman has to know that she is valuable (Proverbs 31 ). If she believes she is not worthy, she experiences the emotions that those beliefs inflict.  Depression, anxiety, restlessness, overeating, under-eating, insomnia, lack of physical activity, perhaps even suicidal thoughts or self-destructive behaviours can come into play. But she has to know that she is more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. This is what I preach and I live.

Inside Woman: What is your view on how women of God should dress? And is this still an issue that needs to be addressed? And how do we go about doing it, without sounding judgemental?

Sylvia D. Carter: “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that fears the LORD, she shall be praised” ~ (Proverbs 31:30). Everything must be said in love in order for it to be received with love. No woman should be abused for her choice of dress when she comes into a ministry. This love must be displayed and taught to her so that she can be able to accept it in love. We have also learned that scripture is not up for individual interpretation. God’s Word is the final authority and we all have to believe, do and think as it says. Don’t allow the world to set your standards of dress for you! Dressing modestly will not get you to heaven. It will not make you a “better” person and it will not save your soul. What it will do is display obedience to the Word of God. It will reflect a heart that is submitted to Him and a desire to dress “for the glory of God".

Inside Woman: Sex is everywhere, but it seems like we don't know the proper context in which to have sex. As a mother, what would you say to your daughters about staying pure until marriage?

Sylvia D. Carter: Matthew 5:8 gives young adult women and teen girls and boys facts about those who engage in their early years without knowledge and understanding that they are more vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases and depression. I tell them about soul ties, “the two shall be one,” and that God created sex for marriage. My daughter and son have been taught this from childhood. Now, one is 21 and the other 18. I tell them as a mother that I want them to stay pure until they are married. But I also tell them that if they say they are going to practice abstinence it has to be 24/7 and 365. It should also be in the way they dress, talk and walk. It is a choice that can be done if both parties agree and set realistic ground rules. Curfew time for dates, dating in public areas, watching the music they listen to, focusing on Bible study and having accountability partners helps young people stay focused.  This has been practiced in my home and I pray it continues.

Inside Woman: What are the basic things that a woman should look for when they go out with a man?

Sylvia D. Carter: I was told to finding out about his trash, that is, his  story or you can say history. Does he have past relationships or responsibilities you need to know about? Find out about his treasures: What does he aspire to be or what is he doing, school, job, home life, future aspirations. Find out about his testimony: does he believe in God and does he have a relationship with the Father? Those questions are key to helping a woman find a better partner.

Inside Woman: What kind of women gets married? And if a woman is not married yet but would like to get married what should she do?

Sylvia D. Carter: There is no specific kind of woman who gets married. Most women will marry someone if they believe in the Biblical idea of what marriage is. The Bible tells us that marriage is instituted by God himself in Genesis. Nowadays we have more successful women who are establishing themselves to be independent and there is nothing wrong with having a good job, a career, and a 401K in the bank. Many women nowadays know how to have personal and financial independence. They see no benefit in getting entangled in anything more than a nice relationship. On the second question I would tell any woman to know herself first. Know their worth and appreciate the woman that they are totally. That goes for physically and emotionally. But if she has an intimate relationship with God then she may be ready to see the man God has for her. Intimacy with the Lord teaches us the heart of God. It shows us what God has sat before us to bring a beautiful relationship that will exemplify God. Spending quality time with God teaches us patience and faith; and we need both to have his plan fulfilled in our lives.

Inside Woman: Let’s talk about woman to woman relationships. It seems that women (more so than men) tend to struggle with issues like gossip and backbiting, and are often too quick to take offense. How can we help women to curb those so called natural female tendencies to really have healthy relationships that last? 

Sylvia Carter: As women we must understand Christian unity is developed by learning to treat one another with the same love and care that we should find in our own families. There will always be someone that will say and do things that cause great hurt and pain. Jesus prayed that all Christians would become one as He is One with the Father (John 17:11). We as Christians are supposed to be One, and see the needs of our sisters in Christ. Sisterhood is not about agreeing with one another, or having the same beliefs. Nor is it compromising your beliefs for the sake of unity. Sisterhood comes when we recognize the true meaning of our relationship to one another. We wouldn’t want our faults and weaknesses told to others behind our back, or worse still, having false stories told about us. We should say and do those things that we would want said about and done to us.  Women can be a force to be reckoned with when they understand these truths. Working together we can be loving, seeking to edify, to build up and strengthen others.

Inside Woman: How can women enjoy being single when they are pressurized to get married?

Sylvia D. Carter: So many times we Christian women are willing to overlook things in men that are not like God because their parents, friends, or relatives are putting pressure on them to get married. When this happens, more times than I can count, things usually go downhill in their relationships or they end up with men that they knew in their heart was not the man to marry or date. There will be men who will try to get them off focus, telling them they are believers because they attend Church. They must know the voice of God in their lives. Recognizing the dangers of being pressured and rely on their own faith. Proverbs 27:12 says, "the prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffers for it".

Inside Woman: What’s the point of pain and hurt in our lives as Christians?

Sylvia D. Carter: It’s all in what Paul says to Timothy to endure hardships in the same spirit that the Lord Jesus did. The reward of this is that we can reign with him if we stand firm in our belief, as we are tested by the enemy. 2 Tim. 2:11-12 RSV says,"if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him". And if we look at the word suffering, you can see “suffer-reign.” Paul says the same thing in Romans 8:17, "If we are children, then we are heirs; heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory". Every day may not be sunshine but if we hold fast to our faith and focus on Jesus we will obtain the goal for which we all look forward to in Jesus. We will have victory in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It strengthens our faith walk because when we don’t have anybody God is still there. He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Inside Woman: Sometimes we are challenged in our walk as believers and it feels like God doesn’t hear or understand our pain. How do we make sure that we are not discouraged to a point of walking away from this Grace that saved us?

Sylvia D. Carter: Every time we feel as if God is not there we need to do a Salvation check on ourselves. God has stated in His Word that He would never leave or forsake us according to Hebrew 13:5. We weren’t promised that it was going to be easy. However, what I would encourage every believer to do is take the word “Can’t” from their vocabulary. You have to know that you can, because you can make it through anything. If you think you can’t, you have to change the way you think about life now - immediately. People need to surround themselves with friends that are believers who have faith and trust in God. They can’t be around people who won’t pray for them during times of distress. Your beliefs play a big role in beating the odds that are against you. If you cannot think that it is possible, who else will?

Inside Woman: As Christians should we read horoscopes, Tarrot cards and other such things to find out about our future?

Sylvia D. Carter: No, we should not if you believe the word of God. Jeremiah 29:11, God says He knows the plans for your life so you have to trust Him. And whenever we set anything in our lives as a higher priority than God, that thing becomes our idol and we depend on it more than God. And, for every action, there is a reaction and therefore we must be careful not to place anything above God. When we worship anything there is always a response. Worship God and you will experience life. Worship idols and you will experience death. We have to remember we were made to worship our Lord in everything we do, and when we choose to do so, we become blessed with His mighty love.

Inside Woman: What was your goal in releasing No Wasted Tears?

Sylvia D. Carter: No Wasted Tears was started as a self-help book for women in ministry who had been hurt in ministry or in marriage. The original title was, Excuse Me Your Blocking my View. But as I was writing, I heard the hurt and pain coming through my words because I was so angry. I needed to do what the word said first in Luke 4:23: "He said unto them, ye will surely say unto me this proverb, physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country“. I had to be healed first before I could minister to other women. So I stopped writing and began to seek healing through forgiving those who hurt me. But most of all I began to work on me so that I could receive the grace of God to move forward. So this journey began in 2006. It was conceived in pain and in January of 2013 it was delivered through forgiveness.

Inside Woman: After writing this book, what can readers take away from it?

Sylvia D. Carter: It is my hope that women would read the story and see themselves fighting to gain the destiny that God had given them from their mother’s womb. But distractions through the tricks of the enemy interrupt her journey taking her through a toxic relationship and she ends up fighting for her life. She discovers the true love of a man with the help of her aunt and family. These women connect with each other to inspire a whole new life that transforms each of them to becoming new women. I pray the readers will see that redemption is possible.

Inside Woman: Do you have any words of encouragement for women who are dealing with depression and feeling hopeless?

Sylvia D. Carter: Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand, Ephesians 6:13. This is to remind them they are not intended to turn and run in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances. They are to stand; having done all to stand.

Inside Woman: When you are not serving at church ----or mentoring your daughters ---or loving your husband, what would insidewomanmag.com readers likely find you doing?

Sylvia D. Carter: Most believe that since I’m a pastor’s wife that I to love to be around people and I do but I love being home I’m reading the Bible or the  latest books by my favourite authors like Jacquelin Thomas , Francis Ray, Vanessa Miller and Brenda Jackson to name a few. I love to travel and New York is one of my favourite cities. I also love watching movies.

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You can buy No Wasted Tears by Sylvia D. Carter at Amazon.com