My husband spends much of his time in South Sudan working with Water is Basic. That’s his “job” but he always manages to do more than. He’s brought others to South Sudan to work with the locals on farming, technology, micro finance, education and yes, even radio. Mike Gwartney, our friend and fellow brother in Christ, is starting an organization to bring radio and television stations to South Sudan. (EPC Lainya County Radio and Television of South Sudan) Starting a business is never easy but it’s particularly difficult in South Sudan.
Mike’s also on The Marcella Project board and has invited us to participate in developing radio material to be broadcast to women of all ages in South Sudan. The training of women in Yei, South Sudan has afforded me a window into their lives. I’ve listened to story after story of women who have no voice or choice. Whether it be domestic abuse, martial infidelity (taking several wives), or sexual exploitation, women are oppressed – many times that oppression is sanctioned by the teachings of the Christian church.
As many of you know I’ve been seeking the answers to whether or not our version of the Gospel is anemic for the millions of shattered women and girls around the globe. Is it for women universal – encompassing the full spectrum of every woman – or does it represent “a tiny segment of the the female population – a narrow, prosperous, protected, well-educated female demographic located in the comfortable midsection of human society?” (Custis, 36)
I’m not the only one asking these questions. In her book Half the Church, Carolyn Custis James so beautifully pens it this way, “What if a soul is completely ravaged – brutalized and dehumanized until there is nothing left but an empty shell? Does the Gospel offer such a woman salvation, or does it also establish her as a participant in the Grand Story that God is weaving for the world? Are God’s purposes for his daughters indestructible, or do they collapse under the weight of the world’s evils? (Custis, 35)
When I read James’ words my soul cries out, “YES, that’s the question we MUST answer!”
Mike is offering us the opportunity to preach God’s message for women. The Gospel Truth for women universal – encompassing the full spectrum of every woman – even those who have to bear up under the weight of the world’s evil. That message says Jesus is not okay with his daughters being beaten, raped, sold, or exploited. It’s a message of value. Image bearers who share in part of his Grand Story.
God’s message for women broadcast over radio can change the lives of women in South Sudan (and ultimately the whole community). It’s not up and running -yet, but I’m excited about the possibilities. Below is a statement about how radio impacts people and how women are excluded from listening to radio.
Radio remains the most accessible source of information for the vast majority of people in South Sudan, though once again males and younger generations have greater access to radio as well as to other technology-based sources of information.
While the role of radio as a tool for positive social change has been acknowledged before, the results from this survey demonstrate that such a role in South Sudan cannot be overstated. Beyond being a medium for entertainment, radio has the power to change people’s lives; it can convey a wealth of information in critical areas like civic awareness, gender equality, and public health.
Yet there are significant obstacles to overcome, the greatest of which may be women’s lack of access to media technology. While this problem extends to radio, it remains by far the best-positioned media technology to meet the information needs of women in South Sudan today. However, a better understanding of those needs is required, as well as more creative ways to increase women’s access to radios and control over the dial.
Consider the importance and pray with us for the opportunity to change women’s lives in the name of Jesus.