Christine Caine grew up revering the Bible, and even kissing the Bible, but never reading it for herself. In her family’s Greek Orthodox tradition, reading the Bible was reserved for priests. When Caine—an excited new follower of Jesus at age 22—came home with a Bible, her mother was mortified. “Christine, who do you think you are?” her mother exclaimed. “You’re being brainwashed!” Today, Caine recalls her response with crystal clarity: “Yes, Mum, this word is brainwashing me. It is literally washing my brain, and I want to be brainwashed.” Caine laughs at the memory: “Here I am, 30 years later, still being brainwashed. My brain was in such a mess. It still needs daily washing with the word of God.”
As a conference speaker and ministry leader, Caine has shared her story with hundreds of thousands of people across the world: abandoned as a baby, sexually abused as a child, and adopted by immigrant parents before coming to Christ. Healing and redemption from a lifetime of trauma didn’t come immediately. But God’s living and active word became her lifeline as she confronted the wreckage of pain and rejection in her past. “I was so broken,” she recalls. “I believed so many lies for so many years. Jesus saved my soul, but the word of God saved my mind.”
One of the first times she remembers a lie being shattered by Scripture happened in 1991, when she read Paul’s injunction to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2). Soon after, she came across God’s invitation to the Israelites: “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your descendants may live” (Deut 30:19). These two verses sparked a “full-on love affair with the word of God,” as Caine describes it. “For the first time in my life I realized that I actually had a choice. My history did not need to define my destiny. I can’t change the past with all its brokenness and my own wrong choices, but I could choose life for the future.” Caine immediately made her choice: She dove headfirst into the deep waters of Scripture and started reading and memorizing as fast as she could.
Answering God’s call
Today, Caine is more passionate than ever about pursuing what Ephesians 5:26 describes as “cleansing by the washing of water through the word.” Last year, she signed up for a veritable power wash when she enrolled at Wheaton College for a master’s degree in leadership and evangelism. Caine wants to be fully equipped to speak to our rapidly changing world, and she sees theological education as a vital step for sharpening her skills.
“By God’s grace, in the past 30 years he’s allowed us to build ministries—whether it’s fighting human trafficking through A21 or empowering women through Propel—with me having no formal theological training,” she says. “I feel like I’m in midlife now and only just earned the credibility to be able to say anything. And if I’m going to be able to speak to young people my daughters’ age as well as old people, I need another level of biblical depth and training.”
Surveying the projects and opportunities that lie before her, Caine takes her new challenges seriously. “I feel stronger in my mind and younger in my spirit and heart than I ever was,” she says, “and God is opening incredible doors globally. I want to be able to bring biblical truth into those very secular-humanist contexts, and I needed a whole different level of training to be able to do that and remain relevant for the next 30 to 40 years.”
Increased exposure to the world has convinced Caine that what she needs, more than anything, is increased exposure to the word. “The Bible is for everybody. You can take the same truth and declare it in the townships of South Africa with their realm of experience and understanding, or with government officials and secular feminists in the U.S. or India,” she says. “The Spirit in the word makes it alive and relevant for everyone, no matter your level of education or understanding.”
Proclaiming God’s truth
Caine has a reputation for talking a mile a minute, but her words take on extra speed when she talks about the need for a generation of biblically literate, activated Christians in today’s world. “God is not shocked at our shifting morality or the condition of this world,” she says. “The Bible says, ‘If you abide in my word’—not in pop psychology or a trendy self-help program, but ‘in my word’—‘then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). But what we have is a disparity between knowing the truth, applying the truth, and then communicating the truth in a pluralistic culture.”
She and her husband, Nick, hope to help others see that God’s word offers wisdom for Christians who want to respond to their culture. They’re doing that through a host of venues: Propel, her studies at Wheaton, and their European church planting endeavor, Zoe Churches. “Currently in our culture, we are playing cut-and-paste with Scripture—taking out the parts we don’t like, or that challenge us, or we think are unpalatable to secular culture,” she observes. “We need a generation that knows how to speak truth in love.”
Caine’s unwavering commitment to preach the Jesus of the Scriptures has paved the way for her to partner with Christians from many streams of the faith. She has shared platforms with believers who have different views on the role of women in the church or the place of spiritual gifts, and she has found that a shared commitment to biblical orthodoxy outweighs differences of interpretation. At her speaking engagements, she focuses on the Bible’s core teachings and steers clear of hot-button topics that trigger debate among Christians. “I try to stay out of a lot of that sort of stuff,” she says. “I want my life to speak for itself. I just want to give people the biblical truth and encourage them to seek Jesus through his word. The grass withers, the flower fades; it’s the word of the Lord that remains forever. I want to keep directing people to the word.”
Activating God’s word
From an overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45), and a non-negotiable part of Caine’s life is devoted to making sure her heart is kept overflowing with Scripture. “I am in the word every day,” she says, “but just like my relationship with my husband of 22 years doesn’t have a strict intimacy program, so too my relationship with Jesus looks different at different times.” Whereas last year was spent systematically going through the Gospels with a journal, this year she is listening to the Bible on audio narration. “I mix it up a lot to keep it fresh,” she says, “but however it looks, make sure you’re doing what works for you.”
Caine sets aside significant chunks of time for reading, prayer, cultivating accountable relationships with people in her local church, resting with her family, and recharging in nature. But for her, all these habits are integrated into a life of action.
Fruit is what Caine is after—a life of faithful service expressed in action. “We are saved by grace,” she quotes from Ephesians 2:8. Then she points ahead two verses: “But we’ve saved by grace for work.” She has no interest in a holy huddle singing another round of “Kumbaya.” In her own life and in every sphere of her influence, her longing is to be a co-laborer with God. “My food is to do the will of him who sent me,” she says, quoting Jesus in John 4:34. “I must be about my Father’s business. I think there’s a holy exhaustion that comes from doing his will. It’s not a carnal exhaustion. It’s a beautiful thing to be a co-laborer with Jesus, but if you’re a co-laborer, that sometimes means you live tired.”
There is nothing about Christine Caine that seems tired; she is determined to energize as many believers as she can for Jesus’ sake. Indeed, “activate” is the theme word for this year’s Propel conferences, which aim to help women discover their passion, purpose, and potential in God’s kingdom. Action also lies at the heart of the A21 anti-trafficking campaign. It is not enough to wring our hands and be brokenhearted over injustice, Caine says: “Let’s go rescue some people.” Even in her commitment to theological training at Wheaton, Caine wants to spur others to action. She enrolled last year with a cohort of 25 women, and this year will see a new cohort of 25 more women who want to be better equipped with the word to reach the world.
For Caine, the mandate is clear: to know Jesus through his word and to create pathways to make him known. “The more I read the word and the more actively I am engaged in a secular culture, the more utterly convinced I am that this Bible is as relevant today as it ever was. And the truth of the words in the Bible is the only hope we have for a lost and broken world.”