For as long as I can remember I’ve always rooted for the underdog. I can’t help myself, it’s just who I am.

It’s what I do.

It’s in my DNA, right along with my female chromosome XX.

I root for the least likely to succeed.

God purposed this. For ‘heaven’s sake’, my birth country (Tanzania) was the only African country willing to stand up to the bully Idi Amin….and win! God made sure this part of history was built into my story.

Jump forward a few years….

When I was around 15 years old, a young girl in my high school got pregnant.

Of course she was not part of the “in” crowd (neither was I for that matter!). But she also didn’t have the advantages that I had (stable family, nice home…love) Back in my day, young girls like this were marginalised. It was, dare I say, shameful.

But of course, my advocate spirit kicked in and I became her friend.

While her belly grew so did our friendship.

We talked and shared our stories together like 15-year-old girl’s are prone to do.

I visited her in the hospital after her son was born and vividly remember her saying to me, “Marvelyn, you’re the only one who came.”

The only one. No one else dared to go?

As a woman who’s now pushing the half century mark I’ve gained some perspective.

What I now know is that if I had asked, some girlfriends would have joined me.

ZOE Projects is about standing up to the bullies of social injustice but it’s also about becoming friends with marginalized women and advocating for them.

Women. Just. Like. You.

…But without the advantages of education, healthcare, security, and economics.

And so today, I want to be a braver 15-year-old self and ask.

Will you dare join us?

Will you choose to be a friend and listen to their stories?

Stories of resilience, courage, leadership and worthiness?

Will you visit the issues of human/sex trafficking, maternal death, female genital circumcision, child marriage, HIV/AIDS, inequality, poverty and lack of education and not turn them quietly away because they’re shameful topics and make us uncomfortable?

Will you courageously choose to join us – we could use the support - because it’s scary confronting bullies alone.

‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

Then the righteous will answer him saying, ‘Lord, when did WE see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did WE see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did WE see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers & sisters, you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:35-40 ESV

WE.

Did you notice the “WE”?

You and me, together.

Who knows, just maybe as we join in solidarity, Christ will show up in their lives AND ours so that we all succeed!

Marvelyn Schell

ZOE Projects

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