Last week, as I was working on the Monday’s post, I received an update from Megan and Michelle Moss. Megan attended WRCC for several years, and last October, she and her sister packed up their lives and moved to Tanzania together. I adore these girls, and I love reading their updates. Their words are filled with as much wisdom and infectious joy as you would experience from them in person (and if you know them, you know that “infectious joy” is simply an understatement).
Megan and Michelle spend a good portion of their time working with widows. In the most recent update, they tell about asking these widows to share the greatest challenges in their community.
Out of the 27 gathered, 22 answered as follows: 15 said oppression, 3 said difficulties in trying to do everything on their own, 2 said lack of money, and 2 said lack of knowledge. I had heard that oppression was a problem for widows in the Maasai culture, but I did not fully realize the breadth of the issue. I was stunned from story after story of these women, my sisters in Christ, being taken advantage of by neighbors, in-laws, community members and their own family.
I was also extremely humbled by their answers. In coming here and observing the women and their situations and also hearing about trainings they wanted to have, I mistakenly assumed their largest need was education and training. I thought that trainings would lead to self-sustainability and therefore a better life for them and their families. This discussion reined me in to realize that I got the cart before the horse. Before these women can fully implement the skills we are giving them in their trainings and then reap the benefits, they need to be freed from the oppression – free to make their own decisions, free from others trying to steal their land or possessions, and free to live their lives without the fear of people treating them with contempt.
Before education and training can take root, these women need to be freed from their oppression. Just like the Israelites, suffering under the terror of Pharoah, they are unable to live without fear, unable to make their own decisions. And before God could train and educate his people, he had to free them from their slavery.
It’s tempting to keep the Exodus story as history, relegating it to a past time when God freed his people from oppression. But the Bible is a living, breathing text, and it continually calls us toward justice and mercy. We are called to be Moses, asking Pharoah to let the people go. We are called to be Joseph, using our wisdom to save the lives of many. We are called to be Abraham, trusting God and following him to unknown lands.
And we are called to be Jesus, laying down our lives and following him on the path toward death and resurrection.
Spend some time today thinking about oppressed people around you. You may not be able to pack up and move overseas like Megan and Michelle, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a job for you. If we are following the spirit of Jesus, we will often be led to fight against the power and privilege crippling those without a voice.
May we be his hands and feet today.