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Summer Reading Suggestion

One of the best parts of summer is extra time for reading.  High on my list this summer are a few "beach books".  You know the kind...predictable but entertaining plot...with no thinking required.  By the time July hits, my busy brain welcomes the respite.  I will, however, dig into something "meaty" as well...taking the opportunity to learn and grow.

In thinking about my own summer reading list, I thought I would take the opportunity to recommend a book to you that I read recently.

My recommendation is

Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women

by Carolyn Custis James.

In writing her book, it is clear that Custis James was deeply impacted by the book

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Half the Church outlines two main messages:

- Firstly, it is a clear call for the church to empower and release women fully.  Custis James elevates the vision for women and their impact, raising it above the current limiting conversation on roles for women and western evangelical ideals.  She offers a much more inspiring vision.

"The message we (the church) offer (to women) is not robust enough to address the opportunities, changes, and extremities of life in a fallen world. It is too small for successful women leaders in the secular world and too weak to restore full meaning and purpose to women who have been trampled. It is not far-reaching enough to encompass every woman's whole life of the variegations that exist within this multicultural, rapidly changing world. 

Instead of addressing the wide range of questions and situations women are facing today, we focus mainly on marriage and motherhood, and that within a two-parent, single-income family."

- Ouch.

- Secondly, Custis James asserts that the "plight of women in the Majority World demands a Christian response".  The gospel always elevates, always brings the outsider in, making room at the table. When we see the needs of marginalized women around the world, the gospel, both in word and deed brings the message of hope and love.  Custis James contends that Christians should be at the forefront of affirming the value and dignity of women world-wide.  We, as Christ-followers should be leading the way!

So that is my plug!  I think you will enjoy the book.  Each chapter offers a discussion guide, so it could be a great book to work together with friends, both male and female.

Happy reading! - Leanne



"Rescuing Girls is the Easy Part"

Rescuing Girls is the Easy Part...

This provocative line is from the book

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.  Nicholas and Sheryl are noted journalists who are leading a passionate call to address the systemic oppression of women world-wide.  Their book, published in 2009 is a must read for any one interested in and passionate about this subject.  The book was followed up with a powerful documentary which you can find here

This line reminded me of my visit to Kolkata, India a couple of years ago...visiting Monique Shaw who is one of our ZOE Partners.  We were visiting women in the brothels, an experience I will never forget as I received the warm hospitality of women a world apart and yet just like me in so many ways.  Monique explained to me that sometimes women who engage with her at Jewels in a Crown (find more here) will leave the sex trade for a time but will be pulled back into it.  There are many reasons for this including stigma, drug dependencies and threats.  It can be very disappointing for Monique and her team.  I often wonder, how do you keep going when it doesn't always "work"? 

Journalists Nicholas and Sheryl have experienced the same disappointments in their work in this area, They found rescuing the girls easy...they just needed to pay cash for them. The real challenge lay in keeping these women free as their newly chosen life was fraught with obstacles. Here are the three lessons that they have learned to keep going.  (p.45)

  • Rescuing girls from brothels is complicated and uncertain.  Indeed, it's sometimes impossible, and that's why it is most productive to focus efforts on prevention and putting brothels out of business
  • Never give up!  Helping people is difficult and unpredictable, and our interventions don't always work, but successes are possible, and these victories are incredibly important.
  • Even when a social problem is so vast as to be insoluable in its entirety, it's still worth mitigating.

Never give up! 

It is still worth mitigating! 

These two phrases remind me of the heart of God.  God is one who never gives up on His creation because of His deep love and the value He places on us all.  He shows us what is important and how to live.  With that in mind, let's read the words of Paul...

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.

Galatians 6:9,10 (The Message)

I couldn't say it any better...Keep going... 




Getting mad...Why are 200 Million Girls Missing?

I am a documentary junkie.  (My husband thinks I may need a support group, but I digress).  I recently watched a documentary that has lingered with me long after the credits rolled.  Has that ever happened to you?

In India, China and many other parts of the world today, girls are killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls. The United Nations estimates as many as 200 million girls are missing in the world today because of this so-called “gendercide”.

Girls who survive infancy are often subject to neglect, and many grow up to face extreme violence and even death at the hands of their own husbands or other family members.

The war against girls is rooted in centuries-old tradition and sustained by deeply ingrained cultural dynamics which, in combination with government policies, accelerate the elimination of girls.

Shot on location in India and China, It’s a Girl reveals the issue. It asks why this is happening, and why so little is being done to save girls and women.

The film tells the stories of abandoned and trafficked girls, of women who suffer extreme dowry-related violence, of brave mothers fighting to save their daughters’ lives, and of other mothers who would kill for a son. Global experts and grassroots activists put the stories in context and advocate different paths towards change, while collectively lamenting the lack of any truly effective action against this injustice.

See more at:

The documentary, called "It's a Girl" (produced by Shadowline Films) tells of the reality of "gendercide" around the world.  In India, China and many other parts of the world, girls are killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls.  As a result, the United Nations estimates that 200 million girls are "missing" worldwide.  Those that survive their infancy can go on to face neglect, violence and even death at the hands of their family.  You can find out more here:

It's a Girl Website

How is this even possible?

I remember giving birth to my daughter Robyn, 21 years ago this June and hearing the most amazing words..."It's a girl"!  While I loved having my boys, I always wanted to parent a little girl. I remember repeating to my mum in the delivery room... "it's a girl, mum, it's a girl".  It was like I was trying to absorb the good news.  But the sad reality is that in many parts of the world, these same words are not met with joy but rather with disappointment, grief and unthinkably a plan to "solve the problem".

We live in a world with a systemic, centuries-old devaluing of women which leads to the sex-trafficking, honor killings, child marriages, female genital mutilation, gang rape and gendercide that we see rampant in the world.  It can feel overwhelming and we may be tempted to give up, saying "what can I do?"

The first thing you can do is "get mad".  (Now that it not usually what you hear in a "nice Christian lady blog")...but let me explain.  We need Canadian women to hold a "righteous anger" surrounding the systemic devaluing and abuse of women world-wide.  This anger serves to propel us stand up and say "this is NOT OK".  It is not OK to kill babies just because they are girls.  It is not OK to use women as sexual play-things.  It is not OK to treat women as property used in high stakes games.

Women all over the world need to understand who they are.  Women are not second-class citizens or ontologically inferior.   They are image bearers of God...think about that...these baby girls that are casually disposed of are image-bearers of God! The work of ZOE Projects is to restore the worth and dignity of women around the world.

So don't get overwhelmed...let the "righteous anger" build within you and let's stand together.


PS - To see the documentary film is the link...

It's a Girl Documentary Trailer