We had just finished our regular meeting. Five of us were leisurely standing outside the meeting hall when Talatu walked up to me. She looked pale and exhausted. Her lips were a bit cracked. I had not noticed her at our meeting. That was because she was not there. She only walked into our compound that moment to find out if Women of God International (WOGIN) would hear her story.
“I am dying, and I don’t want to die,” she started, with a ring of pain in her voice. Before I could utter a word, her teary eyes hushed me to further silence. She continued, “My husband died two years ago. I have been falling sick so frequently in the last eighteen months. What I feared most has come out. I tested positive for HIV. The past twelve months have been hellish. I have become an unwanted and unwelcome guest in my in-laws’ house, and now they want me and the children dead, fast.” Her gripping story included a scandalous conclusion by one of her in-laws that her ill luck had brought misfortune to their late son.
She was traumatized by the death of her husband. She had been married to him for twelve years. She was ostracized by the extended family and despised by her neighbours. Talatu’s last hope was the church. In fact, as soon as her status became public, she lost her clerical job and now she could not afford the anti-retroviral drug she needed to treat the HIV. She had literally been left out in the cold the day we met. Like every other woman, she needed tender loving care, acceptance and assurance in the face of calamity.
It has been three years since Talatu and I formed our friendship. Her anti-retroviral drugs have been taken regularly, her kids are back in school and their fees are paid for by families who “adopted” Talatu’s children to cover the fees. Talatu became healthy once again; she is now our contact point with other ladies in similar conditions.
Discipleship lessons, prayers and counseling have taken Awa to a new level of confidence in God and a joyful spirit in following Jesus.
Over the last seven years of leading WOGIN, I have been delighted to work with women in varying circumstances. Take the case of Laraba who celebrated her fortieth birthday recently. She was thirty-six when her husband died in automobile crash. That tragic event inflicted a big wound in her heart that festered for quite some time. He was a pastor and she could not understand what God was planning to gain “by not preventing the irrational death of this young man.” She sank so low and yet she put up a nice face in the church. She now serves as part of my support group for young widows.
Awa must have been one of the most feared Islamic undercover operatives until she met Jesus while in Kuwait. She was stripped of all her privileges as a wife and mother. After sixteen years of marriage, she was sent packing from her husband’s house. When I first met Awa, I was skeptical of her intention; however, I sensed she had a beautiful spirit. “I have been chased from pillar to post,” she said. When intimidation did not work, she was “offered incredible cash and comfort to return to Islam.” Discipleship lessons, prayers and counseling have taken Awa to a new level of confidence in God and a joyful spirit in following Jesus.
In addition to our work with women, we are also working with three high schools (a total of five thousand teenagers) on a campaign for godliness. Although I have two kids in high school myself, I was horrified when, during one discussion time, the problem of bullying in the public schools was a considered a “byproduct of hurts from homes.” Since “they are hurting, the only way to live is to hurt others [through] bullying and other vices.” This outreach came after a parental seminar on raising God-fearing teenagers.
WOGIN in Africa
The above is just a small sample of the social concern ministry expression of Women of God International. In the African society where women often are “to be seen and not heard,” we see God raising up more women to serve him in leadership responsibilities both in the Church and elsewhere. Our mission is simple: to serve these ladies through prayer, evangelism, edification, teaching, social concerns and leadership events so that they in turn will serve the Body of Christ at the local church and across cultures.
In the African society where women often are “to be seen and not heard,” we see God raising up more women to serve him in leadership responsibilities.
We assist these women leaders with a variety of programmes and training. I recall one programme two years ago when we were able to have some men who were married to women preachers share their experiences in a programme called “Help, I Am Married to a Lady Minister!” Another workshop was on balancing home and ministry demands in a domesticated African women’s world. Such events underscore our vision to create appropriate ministry connections for women that cut across denominations, races and generations so as to equip, empower and raise virtuous women and honored servants of the Lord.
We are looking at how to set up local enterprise assistance programmes and a care centre and how to provide more connections for the school fees adoption program. There is room for local and international participation in this WOGIN vision.
What will it take to show love not to a crowd, but to one individual at a time?