Diana, like most women in South Sudan, brought her baby with her to the women’s training. A friend would bring the baby into our meeting for feedings. Diana didn’t flinch. She nursed while writing, listening, speaking and sharing. It was second nature to her to become trained while mothering. It’s kind of how it is for women, whether they live in Africa or American. We are always serving in different roles all at once. As a trainer you learn to join in and give a helping hand to other women so they can be free to learn.
When looking at all these women have going on you wonder how on earth they are ever going to find the time to study and preach, let alone train others to do the same. I will be honest – sometimes I wonder if any of it is sticking or making a difference. I surely didn’t get as far as I hoped in our training. We had to slow down due to translation and lack of formal education. Instead of learning how to preach we stuck with learning how to study the Bible: observation, interpretation, and application. I had them practice, practice, practice for four days. The last day they formed two teams and presented what they learned from their assigned passage (observation, interpretation and application). It wasn’t perfect but there was real progress. Hope settled in my heart.
At the end of the conference I asked the women what had been important for them to know and or learn?
Diana spoke up, “It was when Jesus spoke in Luke 4 – where he came to set the oppressed free.”
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” (Luke 4:18-21 NLT)
“I am oppressed by in- laws. They told me to stop going to church and tend to the home. I didn’t listen. I kept coming to bible study, Sunday services and during Easter & Christmas, to those services. Since I didn’t listen to them they started to tell my husband he should take another wife because I spend time too much time at church. They told him they were upset because they wanted me to come to the home for Christmas celebration. So my husband took another wife. It was a difficult time in the home. Finally the woman left. My in-laws continue to nag my husband. It makes it hard on me. But when I heard the story of Martha and Mary – that Jesus commended Mary sitting at his feet, well that helped me so much”.
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42 NLT)
Diane ended with – “I realized I was doing the right thing. Jesus told me what I have been choosing is good and it won’t be taken from me.”
That is Jesus ennobling women right there. I think the thing I walked away with from this trip in Africa is just a more passionate desire to figure out how to bring freedom to women through the Gospel. I long to help the Church rethink it’s view of women so the rest of the world can view women more appropriately.
Lord Jesus Christ this work can’t be accomplished by the efforts of humans. You must go before us, beside us and behind us. Give The Marcella Project the opportunity to join in your work, for the sake of your women and your name. Amen