Viewing entries tagged
Empowerment

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My Braver 15 Year Old Self...

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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Sue Wells on "Being Scared"

Sue Wells

I watch people live their lives.  I find it fascinating because people tell us in all sorts of ways, who they are and what they are living for. In watching Sue Wells' life for many years, I can say confidently that people are important to Sue.  She shows this through her choices and priorities.  She organizes her life in such a way to connect people to the life that is found only in Jesus.  Sue, (wife of our General Superintendent David), recently chatted with ZOE Projects.  We wanted to pick her brain and hear what she has been up to lately.  May it inspire you!

Leanne and the ZOE Team

PS - If you want to stretch yourself to the point of "Being Scared" like Sue, check out www.zoeleadership.org...because we can help with that!   

Interview with Sue...

 

Who are you?

Depends.

“Nana” is my favourite label, along with wife and mom.

Professionally, I’m “The Decorating Coach”.

Walking, biking, gardening, decorating and reading are my favourite pastimes.

 

Where do you ministry/serve?

First, I don’t identify ministry as what I do within a church context.

When I travel with Dave across the world, my goal is to get to know our workers and encourage them any way I can.

Whether or not I do anything up front is of no importance to me.

Locally, I’m very involved in my church’s mission’s team and organizing our yearly mission’s event.

 

How did you start serving there?

Ministry at Burlington Glad Tidings church is kind of a miracle.

When we moved to Ontario, knowing that local church attendance would be random because of our travel, I was sad that it would be the first time that I didn’t have the regular connection of a local church body.

I got involved in project-based ministries, like kid’s summer camp and from there, other opportunities opened up.

 

What is your favourite part about your ministry?

I love speaking at women’s events, but what dominates my passion is how I can reach my community.

 

Who has been your greatest influence in your development as a leader?

I study leader’s lives outside the church context.

Eileen Stewart doesn’t reveal her age, but she just never stops.

I’m blown away by how she always finds ways to show her faith to strangers.

What would you say to people who are hesitant to serve in their community?

I would say that reaching out is “Christianity 101.”

Jesus didn’t make service an “elective” only if we feel gifted or comfortable and church involvement doesn’t give us a pass.

Assume that people want to hear about your faith.

I’ve talked to so many who don’t have a clue that people like us even exist!

Also, count on Christ.

You carry His presence with you and you don’t have to come up with all the clever answers.

When I share my involvement in global missions, my Buddhist friend asks, “Why?”

I answer that it is because “In the Christian faith, everyone is equally valuable to God.”

That is unheard of in most circles.

I just met my new dentist, who is a Muslim from Jordan.

As I tell him all that we are doing for refugees, his eyes fill with tears and he asks, “How can I help, what can I give?”

Instead of getting angry at losing the traditional greeting of “Merry Christmas,” in our Canadian culture, I organized a carol sing at my local café.

A university gal participated, but she didn’t know one song in the twenty-page booklet.

Sometimes, I freak out as to how I’m going to make the next steps happen in my relationships with people, but the Lord reminds me that He is the boss.

I repent.

 

What are your next steps for ministry in 2016?

I qualify for senior’s discounts! I also am writing a study/book about women being all the more valuable to the Kingdom as we age.

I want to make “being scared” part of the supernaturally normal.

It’s the only way to live.

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This International Day of the Girl Child: Stand with Her - Judith Kasiama

Judith Kasiama

October 11th is "International Day of the Girl Child."  

The 2015 Theme for this day is: The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030

To help us bring awareness to this day and its focus we have invited Judith Kasiama to write this week's blog post.  We are huge fans of Judy!  Judith is an under-gradutate student at Trinity Western University, where she is studying International Studies and History. A refugee herself, from Democratic Republic of Congo, she is deeply passionate about promoting and advocating on behalf of women and children. She believes in education and self-sustaining development that can help equipwomen to be their own advocates. Judith is currently studying in Amman, Jordan and serving a group of Syrian refugees who are displaced due to the ongoing conflict in Syria. She enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time in nature.

by Judith Kasiama

Fifteen years ago, the international community implemented the Millennium Development Goals, which aimed to help alleviate poverty throughout the world by 2030. Their aim was to meet these goals through social, economic, and political means. 

According to an EFA Global Monitoring Report in 2012, “about 62 million girls are not attending school globally, and about 80 percent of all human trafficking victims are girls." (Check out more here...Girl Rising.)

Currently we are halfway through our given timeline. The girls born in the year 2000 (when the Millennium Development Goals were set) are now 15 years old. As an international community, we must fulfill our promise to be sure that girls are safe and have access to education and healthcare. Investing in young girls is significant.  When girls are given an opportunity to stay in school and have access to health care, early marriages and childbearing is delayed.  These small actions not only benefit the girl herself, but will also benefit her future children, community, and country.

Girl Effect, which is a nonprofit organization whose sole aim is to empower girls says this: “If every Ethiopian girl finished school, it would add almost $4-billon to the country’s economy.” They also estimate that “if early marriage in India was delayed, it would add about 767 billion in potential lifetime income.” (Girl Effect). 

While we have made significant progress in improving the lives of girls during early childhood, we must now take a further step in helping girls obtain higher education and join the workforce, unhindered by their gender. One of my favorite poets Dr. Maya Angelou writes, “each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” In supporting young girls, we are supporting the next generation to truly reach their potential.  

On this day, International Day of the Girl Child, let us do more in our efforts to support girls. My worldview, my ambition has been fueled by amazing people who saw my potential and help me achieve my dream. I have three younger sisters and each day I am honoured and humbled by their accomplishment.  I want girls around the world to be able to have the same opportunity. We, as an international body, are obligated in recognize the potential that girls have and it is up to us to help improve gender equality on a global scale. 

This International Day for Girls: Stand with Her!

Thanks Judith!  What would it look like for you to "stand with girls" in your community?  In the nation of Canada?  How about abroad?  This may be a great conversation to have in your circle of friends and church.  We know that ZOE is an excellent way to stand with girls...

  • Through supporting Kim Hodgkiss in Honduras as she provides economic empowerment opportunities for teen girls through her training centre.  
  • Through Steve Bowler in his work with "Fountain of Life" in Malawi which supports rape victims of all ages.
  • Through providing Dignity kits (menstrual products) with Transformation Textiles that help girls stay in school. 

There are many, many opportunities to "stand with girls" through ZOE this weekend.  Want to do something? 

DONATE HERE.

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Launching ZOE Leadership - Woot! Woot!

The day is finally here...

After countless hours of writing, testing, re-writing and testing again (all fueled with copious amounts of coffee of course)...we are launching a dream!

A few years ago, while pastoring at Living Waters Church in Fort Langley, BC, God began to open my (Leanne's) eyes to the need to encourage and develop female leaders in Canada. Working with my friend Julie, we experimented with how best to do this in our local context and we began to see amazing things.  Women were hungry to learn and grow, but often felt "stuck."

Fast forward a few years to the launch of ZOE Projects.  We organized ourselves to:

"Network Canadians to respond to the needs of vulnerable women around the world, working in four key areas: Health, Education, Human/Sex Trafficking and Economic Empowerment…all with a heart for Spiritual Transformation."

Our chosen tagline was "Helping women Thrive."  We knew fairly early on that we wanted to help women thrive in Canada as well.

Why?  Well we believe passionately that every woman has been given a unique "deposit" of gifts that God wants to use for His purposes!  God is as it work in our world and we are invited to participate with Him.  

So we began to develop ZOE Leadership, to help women see their gifts and then encourage them tostrategically develop them further.   Often women fail to acknowledge their gifts because they “just don’t see it.”  We help them see it! 

The dream grew...the team grew!  

We worked closely with PAOC - Eastern Ontario District Women's Network, testing material and doing a couple of conferences.  We tested the material in BC and Alberta.  Free to Lead Conferences in Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Langley soon followed and we knew we had a message that needed to be shared.

So here we are.  Sharing what we have.

Our first course is called “IDENTITY: Discovering your Potential.” 

In this course, we learn that God wants to use us!  And He uses US…we don’t have to be anybody else because leadership looks different on everyone.  How freeing is that?  We just need to acknowledge our gifts andtake responsibility to learn and develop what God has deposited in us.  God is looking for women who are open to saying YES to Him! 

This five week course uses teaching videos and selected resources so that small groups of women can easily facilitate a ZOE Leadership group in their community. 

Interested in finding our more?  Email us here.

We are thinking that this is just the beginning!

Leanne McAlister

Canadian Liaison for ZOE Projects

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What Difference Empowerment Makes!

ZOE partners with Kim Hodgkiss in Tujillo, Honduras, where she runs a vocational training school and discipleship program for vulnerable young women.  Recently we heard from Kim as she reported on how some of the participants (past and present) are doing.  It is amazing to put names and faces to the incredible work that Kim is involved in.  Here are some highlights!

After a recent visit to a working farm, fifteen year old Nora, who will be graduating from the program this year was inspired saying she would love to do this kind of work in the future.  With her love of animals and the outdoors and her physical strength, she is a natural!  Her classmate Hilda is interested in studying agriculture and animal husbandry.

What a delight it was to see these girls light up as they glimpsed future possibilities!

Angelica

After graduation, Angelica went on to pursue a three year Hotel and Tourism course.   Through the years she has been making and altering clothes on the sewing machine she received upon her graduation from Kim's program.  This is allowing her to pay for her schooling costs.

One the scholarship students, Sandra, who is studying Small Business Administration is supporting herself with work in a small cafe in the city.  She is essentially managing the cafe: cooking, serving, receiving cash and ordering supplies.  She hopes to use what she is learning to open her own business in the future!

What a difference empowerment makes!  Interested in helping?  Donate HERE.

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Turning a Blind Eye: A Quick Primer on Marginalization

This week's post is written by a good friend of ZOE...Jennifer Adkins.  (You may recognize Jenn because she appears in the ZOE video.)  Jennifer has been a consultant, research analyst, ombudsperson and an instructor.

As much as she enjoyed participating in all of these roles, she was excited to leave them to go back to school full-time for a PhD., specializing in Race and Ethnic Relations.

Jennifer and her family love living in British Columbia because it’s like a giant playground, open year-round.

She is a gift to us as we work to educate ourselves around the issues of vulnerable women. 

Jennifer Adkins

by Jennifer Adkins

It’s a dark and rainy December and I’m rushing around feeling pretty overwhelmed.

I try to remember if there was ever a time that I really enjoyed clothes shopping.

Shopping for a Christmas banquet dress, at the last minute, is not my idea of a good time – I had only days before my husband’s work Christmas party and I couldn’t find a thing to wear.

But with my own work, studies, kids, and life in general, who has time to shop for a party dress?

I rush out into the parking lot of the mall frustrated and late.

Just as I approach my vehicle, I see a young woman, with an umbrella, pushing a large stroller with a clear plastic rain resistant covering over it.

She had asked another woman for something and was refused.

She turned in my direction.

I knew what was coming – or so I thought - I’ve heard them all before but had never seen a woman with a child asking for help on the street in Canada.

As this woman came to me, I asked how I could help her.

She told me her story - she was divorced from her husband who was abusive, recently lost her job, had two young kids who she was supporting on her own, and was now at the verge of losing her home.

She expected that she would have to move and find cheaper accommodations but she didn’t want to up-heave her children right before Christmas.

She had a hard time looking for work because when she got interviews, she had no one to care for her daughter who wasn’t school age yet.

There was no money to afford the day care that she used to be able to pay for.

Her story tore me apart inside.

Here I sit, whining about not being able to find a suitable dress for a party and this courageous woman is explaining to me that she will do anything – including beg on the streets, to feed her kids and keep them sheltered.

She had bussed for hours to get to a church that was supposed to be providing bread to people in need, but when she reached the church, she was told it was the wrong day.

We spoke for a long time.

Fretting about me getting soaked in the rain, she quickly moved her umbrella to shelter me as she absorbed the rain instead.

What on earth makes me more worthy of being sheltered and dry?

I had the honour of doing what I could to help her.

As we were saying good-bye, she sobbed, telling me that she had been begging God for days to help her, but he wouldn’t do anything until now.

I told her that sometimes those of us who he’s telling to participate in his work are a bit ‘thick in the head’ and in the heart. I explained that God is working on every one of us, especially those of us that call ourselves Christians.

This woman and many others are marginalized.

Marginalized means that they are pushed to the edges of society.

Marginalized people fail at or are prevented from fully participating in society. 

Our society doesn’t work for everyone. In fact, it often functions to benefit and privilege those who need the least help.

This creates a gap between those who have money, protection, power, education, authority and those who do not – leaving those without, excluded and incapable of participating or contributing politically, socially, or economically in the world around them.

They lack access to goods and services, which further increases their chances of living with discrimination, poverty, hardship, and abuse.

People are marginalized based on their skin colour, sex, language spoken, disability, income, and many other characteristics.

Some people have overlapping characteristics, called intersections, which place them deeper into a place of inferiority.

Although I could be and have been marginalized based on the colour of my skin and my sex, other privileges like education and my middle class socioeconomic status, benefit me by opening doors that are closed to many others.

We often go through life turning a blind eye to marginalized individuals.

We basically make them invisible so that we don’t have to think about the inequality that they experience daily.

Now, why did I actually SEE this woman and take the time to listen to her story?

Because I could relate to her.

I saw a mom of two young kids who experienced hard circumstances and ended up in a bad situation.

I could be in the same situation with a twist of events.

This fact opened my eyes and caught my attention.

Now if she had been someone that I had nothing in common with and I couldn’t relate to…if she came from another part of the world… I would likely have turned a blind eye.

When considering people in other parts of the world living in very different societies than ours, we often cannot relate to their lives, making it easy to tune out their cries and turn a blind eye toward their needs.

Jesus is painfully aware of inequalities that exist in both North America and around the world.

He showed us by example how we are expected to love others, regardless of how much we relate to them.

It’s no coincidence that he spent time showing love to and helping the marginalized of his day – women, prostitutes, foreigners, tax collectors, those with disabilities, etc.

So, I have to ask you, what marginalized group have you turned a blind eye to and what do you intend to do about it?

Personally, I know that I have a lot of work to do in this area, and it’ll begin with opening my eyes and my heart.

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3 More Ways to Empower Women Around You...a guy weighs in!

Last week's post focussed on practical ways to empower women.  We continue that important theme, but this time hear from a young male leader.  James Bak is a student at Summit Pacific College, preparing for vocational ministry and he is a vocal champion of women!  

Issues surrounding women's vulnerability is not a "women's issue", rather it is a "community issue" that will be addressed by women and men together speaking to the worth and dignity of "the daughters."

With young men like James we get excited about the future! 

James Bak

by James Bak   

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of strength? Maybe it's a fighter, an athlete, a Greek demigod named Hercules, a superhero, a mighty lion, or a ______ (You fill in the blank), whatever it is I am sure that it is powerful. Merriam Webster defines strength as, "The quality or state of being physically strong," which is what most people typically associate strength with. Webster also defines strength as, "The quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way". Personally, I like the latter definition of strength, allow me to share why.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of strength is my 5'4" mother. As an impoverished single parent, she raised two incredibly challenging and rebellious children. She taught me what it meant to selflessly love others and how to see hope in every situation. I don’t know how my mother did it but she always gave us security and direction in life. When I consider the tremendous strength of my mother’s willingness to lay down her life for her children I find myself quoting NBA’s 2014 MVP Kevin Durant who said, “You’re the real MVP mom!”

However, my mom is just one example of the many women who have greatly impacted my life.  For most of my life I lived in a household where the women outnumbered the men three to one. Under these circumstances I came to incredibly value the voice of the women in this world, especially the voice of my incredibly beautiful fiancé, Jennie. Jennie is an awe inspiring woman who will stop at nothing to pursue the call that God has put on her life. The tenacity of Jennie and many other passionate women like her are why I am confident that this world NEEDS to have EMPOWERED women in leadership. As a young adults pastor I often meet incredible young women who have the capacity to change the world but are hesitant to act due to a lack of confidence in their calling. This just breaks my heart and moves me to share with you what I have found to be an effective means of empowering the women in your life.

1. PRESENCE - IM WITH YOU

In one of my favourite movies, Finding Forester, Sean Connery aka Forester tells his lovestruck young apprentice this, “The way to a woman’s heart is an unexpected gift at an unexpected time.”

What I love about this is that Forester knew that many women appreciate the moments in life that remind them that others are thinking about them simply because they care. The truth is that presents are nice but the true value is the presence of the heart behind the gift. God’s gift to us was Christ whose presence absolutely turned this world upside down. Before exiting the scene, Christ also promised two presents of his presence. First, a promise that God would never leave nor forsake His people. Second, a promise of a guide and comforter that would come after His ascent and empower His people. Sounds to me like Christ was dead set on remaining present with us.

What I love about my job is that I get to follow in Christ’s footsteps and be a presence in the lives of so many amazing men and women. I don’t have much to offer in terms of material gifts but I can always offer my presence and you know what, often that’s all that they want. I can’t count the number of times that Jennie has come to me after a hard day and not wanted anything but my presence. There is so much that is said when we simply remind the women in our life that, “I’m with you!” That’s it, “I’m with you,” I am with you in the good times, the bad times, the tough times, and the great times, no matter what I am with you. This screams Christ to me, He was with us before we were even aware of ourselves and He remains with us because he was the first to say, “I’m with you!” It seems almost to easy to be true but there is something so powerful in giving presence.

2. CHAMPION THEIR POTENTIAL

Have you ever met an art consultant who packs one heck of a right hook and the medical degree to fix any injuries that her right hook may cause? I have! Her name is Laura and she is one of the most impressive women I have ever met. Laura balances three jobs while maintaining a social life and staying active. Just last year Laura told me that she had started training multiple times a week to become a boxer. To this day I have never seen a young woman so excited to get punched in the face. Still as her first fight approached, Laura’s excitement grew and so did the encouragement. Laura’s friends and I could see that she was passionate, not about violence but about her potential to be the best and it was charming. Round after round Laura returned to her corner and there she was met by her coaches and mentors who never lost sight of her potential, it was incredible. Although Laura lost her first fight everyone in her corner still saw her as a champion, including Christ.

Christ taught us valuable lessons about confrontation but he also understood that there are some things in life that we will have to fight for. Not everyone is cut out to be a boxer but every woman has dreams and passions that they may have to one day fight for. How do we empower women to “put on their gloves” and “enter the ring”? I believe it it begins with standing in their corner and championing their potential regardless of the outcome. How incredible would it be if we saw women take their “losses” in stride as their coaches and mentors remained in their corner tending to their needs and calling out their potential? Personally I think that we would see many more women return to the ring with confidence that God still had a purpose for their passions.

3. CELEBRATE THEIR VICTORIES

Jennie and I are constantly blessed by this principle. We are getting married in two months and have a daunting checklist of things to get done before the big day. Each time that we check something off the list I make it a point to celebrate the victory with her. 

It seems small, and it can be, but it is also important to our relationship. The more that I celebrate the little victories in her life the easier it is to celebrate the big victories. Maybe this is small to you but to us, two naturally driven/competitive people, it doesn’t always come easily. You see we are in the same field of study and both aspiring to do well in our calling which can put some tension between us when it comes to awards, potential opportunities, etc. However, I realize that we are on the same side, we are in each others corners, and we can be united in victory. 

Whether it’s a loved one, a friend, or a family member it’s so important that you celebrate the victories of the women in your life, big or small. Your support can remind them that you truly are with them no matter what and that you do believe in their potential. By celebrating the victories of the women in my life I’ve become more than simply their friend, I have become their fan! I think it’s about time that the women of this world pick up a few more fans, don’t you? So if you’ve read this far and you are still wondering how to empower women just remember your presence is the best present, every champion needs someone in their corner, and when things are all said and done don’t forget to celebrate their victories.

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3 Ways to Empower Women Around You

Today's guest post is from a great friend of ZOE...Elyse Brouwer.  (You may recognize her from the ZOE video!)  Elyse lives in Surrey, BC with her husband Christian.  She is a young leader with amazing gifts that she uses in her pastoral role at Westwinds Church.  She is a bit of a "leadership nerd" and loves to chat about how best we can empower women in Canada and abroad.  (This is always done over copious amounts of coffee!) I think we will see/hear more from Elyse in the years to come...

Elyse Brouwer

by Elyse Brouwer

What does it mean to empower someone?

As a young woman in ministry in Canada, I find myself thinking about this a lot. I often wonder whether I am doing enough to enable those that I minister to to succeed, and I constantly evaluate my own life, and whether or not I feel empowered to do what I feel God has called me to. I can pinpoint moments in which I’ve definitely felt empowered and confident; I can also pinpoint others in which I’ve felt alone, inadequate, and out of my depth.

I believe that there are some incredibly simple and basic keys to empower women to live full lives in Christ and to do what God is calling them to. They may look different in practice in different contexts, but I would challenge you (and myself) to consider how these 3 keys could play out in your context:

Open Up Opportunities

When I was 16, the Christian outreach at my school needed a student to take leadership of the group in order to continue. I hesitated, but my friend and I decided to give it a shot.

Through this opportunity to lead, I discovered my passion for ministry.  I learned a lot about myself, about the Bible and about leadership.  Not every week was a success, but it was a great opportunity to try, grow and make mistakes in a a safe place. 

One of the biggest keys to empowering women is to open up opportunities for them to use their gifts. This is essential; women need to be provided with opportunities in which it is safe to try, make mistakes, learn, and try again. The best way to learn is to do! What opportunities can you open up to women around you?

Provide Tools

Near the end of the book of John, when the resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples and tellsthem “…as the Father sent me, even so I am sending you…Receive the Holy Spirit.”

In these few words, he sends them out on a challenging and daunting task, but he does not leave them unprepared; He equips them with what (rather, Who) they need - the Holy Spirit.

Empowering women entails more than providing opportunities to them; it includes equipping them with what they need to tackle what’s in front of them. Whether this be through education, financial support, or even something as simple as providing menstrual pads so that a young woman can keep going to school, empowerment goes beyond simply providing opportunities and extends to providing women with what they need to succeed. What tools can you provide to the women around you?

Be in Community

I love a good staff meeting. Call me a nerd, but I just love giving and receiving feedback, reflecting on how we felt as we tried something new, dreaming about what we can do in the future, and praying together. 

I believe that there’s something empowering about having a community around us. That community can look as different as the people in them - it be a trusted peer, a mentor, or a small group. The impact of having the support of women (and men) that dream with you, challenge you, give you insightful feedback, encourage you, and pray with you, is huge. When we give women opportunities and provide them with the tools they need, we also need to provide them with a safe and supportive community. Whether we’re in Canada, Malawi, Thailand, etc., we will always be “better together”. Are you part of a community that lovingly challenges, encourages, and prays for its members?

I hope that these keys help you as you empower the women around you!

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On the stigma of delivering girls...Sarah's Story

Sarah and I met for coffee last week.  (Sarah is a ZOE Partner working in Chennai, India...more info here.)

It was a great "catch up" as her sweet daughter Rhema ran around Starbucks in her bare feet.  Sarah said that Rhema is very much a "child of India" who continually rejects shoes and socks even though she is visiting a very cold Canada.  Somehow, Rhema had missed the memo on the current temperature.

We were talking about the plight of women in the developing world (which lately I find myself doing more and more)...when Sarah began to tell me about the stigma she has faced because she delivered three daughters in a culture that prizes sons.  I asked Sarah to "hold that thought"...I grabbed my iPhone and filmed her story.  Have a listen on the link below...

Sarah, Christo and their three beautiful girls!

Video...on the stigma of delivering girls - Click Here.

It is an important story because it is the story of many women around the globe...women who have NO IDEA of their inherent value as daughters of God.

I can't help thinking that someone needs to tell them...Will that be you?

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Victoria Had a Secret...Three Simple Steps Towards Dignity

This is Marvelyn Schell.  

Marvelyn is the International Liaison for ZOE Projects.  Marvelyn works directly with our ZOE Project Partners to help assess community needs and determine practical ways that Canadians can get involved.

Marvelyn is uniquely equipped in this area having recently returned from Southern Africa, where she and her husband served as PAOC Global workers for over a decade.  While serving in Africa, Marvelyn worked as the South Africa Project Manager for Child Care Plus.  She also worked with the mothers of her CCP kids and developed a leadership training program that offered micro-finance loans to women starting small businesses.  Marvelyn loves to see women do well..and she carries that passion into ZOE Projects.  Marvelyn is now based out of London, Ontario where her husband pastors. Gary and Marvelyn have two young adult daughters who are currently furthering their studies. 

Marvelyn Schell

Victoria Had a Secret...Three Simple Steps Towards Dignity

My life had been riddled with bouts of insecurity until I met her.  Her name was Victoria and she had a secret.

It was our first year as Global Workers with the PAOC in Zambia.  Victoria helped me in my house, and God knew I needed help.  She was a widow.  Quiet, shy, hard working.  She knew how to laugh and fill the rooms of our home with joy.  English wasn’t her first language but she was a fantastic communicator.  In fact, Victoria wasn’t well educated but she was very smart.

My life intersected with Victoria’s for just 2 years but it left an indelible imprint on my life.  Why?  Because I saw a woman who knew her value because she knew she was valuable to God. 

Herein lies dignity.  Knowing your worth.

Let’s make it very clear, ZOE Projects is not about throwing money at women’s issues around the world. 

Dignity and value do not have a price tag.

It is about giving honour - dignifying that which is worthy.

That’s the secret. 

Victoria taught me that secret.  Maybe it shouldn’t be a secret anymore.  Maybe we need to say it out loud.

So, let me reveal three simple steps to get you started:

Start where you’re at.

1) Begin to value the women in your life now.

Don’t compete with them, don’t compare yourself with them.  Validate them and honour their presence in your life.

2) Get to know them.

Every woman has a name and has a secret to share.  You’ll be amazed at how rich your life will become as you take the time to listen.

3) Understand them.

Travel into their world.  Try picking up a book like I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai or watch a documentary like Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn. 

And when you learn the secret…dignifying that which is worthy...pass it on. 

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