Women’s History: Bishop Rosie O’Neil, The Virtuous Woman

Womens History

Every Sunday and Wednesday, Bishop Rosie O’Neal is spreading the gospel to thousands in Greenville at Koinonia Christian Center. It’s something she’s been doing for 30 years, which didn’t start off easy. As many, including her family, had a hard time accepting the calling over her life. 

My grandfather, who was my pastor, he was actually very settled. I remember him sitting there, he had big cheeks, he said well you know women, Baptist don’t believe in women preachers. And it just as quick as a flash, which the Lord said He would do this for you. I said well I don’t answer to Baptist, I answer to God. And somehow that settled him, says Bishop O’Neal. 

Despite the doubt, O’Neal didn’t give up. Born in Germany, placed in an orphanage, then adopted, O’Neal reflects on her upbringing in Charlotte knowing she was different. 

Growing up for me was challenging because I was always in between all the worlds. I was mixed, I was in between, I was loved, but I was adopted, I was in between, explains Bishop O’Neal.

And as a child, her heart was already set on giving back, in any way she could.

Really growing up for me, was a deeply reflective time. I always had the heart to give, I would steal from my parents and give to the poor people at school, says Bishop O’Neal.

That desire led her to Greenville, where she attended East Carolina University with excitement to join their gospel choir.

And on an early Wednesday morning, was when O’Neal knew her life would change forever.

I heard Him talk to me on August 31st, 1983…and He said, so what are you going to do? And I knew He was talking about the call of ministry, she adds.

O’Neal took a leap of faith in the voice she heard.

That Morning, I recognized that God is God, and He’s not to be played with. And that His plan, really I should follow that because He has my best interest, explains Bishop O’Neal,

O’Neal then met her soon to be husband Toiristeste at a Bible study, they have two sons.

I think if we’re gonna be great, we have to be true to ourselves and our god.  I don’t think you can be great without that. I don’t think you can be great without making the decision; I’m okay with me, as long as I’m, Lord you’re good? I’m good with me, and I’m ok if you’re not ok with me. So I can do what’s in my heart, says O’Neal.

O’Neal is determined to make the most of her time and live out her purpose. 

We’re going die, we are going to go out of here, so knowing that the scripture says, so teach us to number our days, so we can apply our heart to wisdom. So what that says me, I got a limited amount of time, how much time do I want to spend being who you think I should be, as opposed to who I am, she expresses. 

But what inspires a woman who brings enlightenment to so many? O’Neal responded emotionally, fighting back tears.

Number one, knowing that at the end of the day, I have to be concerned with what people think, but never controlled by it, but I play to an audience of one. Jesus are you good? Did I do good? Did I push aside my own issues and thoughts, and what I want enough to reach out to somebody else, says O’Neal.

Through her own adversities, O’Neal lives her life dedicated to elevating and expanding the minds of each person she meets.

I do it for the light bulb, I do it for the moment, where people realize the lies they’ve lived under, did not come from God. That is not His mindset, and they can be free. Those are the three things that do it for me. That’s what inspires me, she adds. 

Through community service, ministry, and giving a voice to those in need.

I want to show people you can win with a limp. That’s what I want. I want people to understand, with all the stuff I got going on, and the prayer that I need, and the mercy that God has to give me, but you can still win with that. You can have really serious things in your past, and things that you fight with and still win. See that’s the God factor. And I went them to know that, explains O’Neal. 

A legacy she hopes will continue to overflow with joy.

I believe in the joy that God gives us, and I want to see people live that way because we only got a limited amount of time down here. So, if I can be prepared for eternity and make a difference while I’m here, and laugh…that’s a good life..

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