I've been mediatating on the story of Esther this last week as we visited the slums of Kibera. In Esther chapter 4 there is very well known verse: "Perhaps you were created for such a time as this?" These words spoken by Mordecai are often taken out of context. I myself am guilty of this. But if you dig deeper into the story you see that Esther is faced with a challenge: obey the call of God, be courageous, own your position...or don't. Mordecai points out that regardless of what Esther decides to do, that God's will will prevail: "For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place." The Jews will be saved one way or another, but Esther has the opportunity right in front of her to save her family and entire people. When posed with the question "And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther's response is everything it should be. She steps up. She calls on her people throughout the country to pray and to fast. She calls on the people in her own home to pray and to fast. Then she plans to go to the king, saying "if I perish, I perish."
See, Esther didn't passively watch as things fell apart. She was in the castle, unaffected by the situation outside. Yet she chose to step into it. She chose to be courageous. She chose to seize her divine moment and alter the world for so many. I can think of many moments that, after the fact, I realize are divine appointments with God, in which He wanted my obedience...I just wasn't brace enough.
The last week in Kibera, it was the women that God used to teach me this. In the face of adversity or oppression I saw women stepping up and stepping out in obedience to their Heavenly Father. I was filled with awe as I watched them defy odds, live independent lives, and love their families fiercely. These women have understood what Esther did: There's only one time such as this. I think the purest form of strength is knowing who you were created to be, a daughter of the king, and being brave enough to live out that identity, seizing the divine moments God places before you.
So, ladies, my prayer is that we would learn from these strong women of God; that we would pray fiercely for them as they are praying fiercely for us. We are all serving the same God, loving the same Jesus, and living under the same sky. We're sisters. I think our Heavenly Father will be revealed in bigger ways than we can fathom if, as daughters of God, we unite in prayer and love, holding on to the courage God provides and taking the risk in obedience.
Irene's husband was diagnosed with tuberculosis over a year ago. He has been hospitalized since. Although cured, Irene's husband is now paralyzed from the waist down. He has not been discharged from the hospital because Irene did not have a wheelchair to bring him home in. For the last year, Irene has traveled every day to the hospital to bring her husband food, bathe, and change him (this is to avoid the additional fees of nurses). She has prayed constantly for God to provide a wheelchair and reunite her family. She spoke about how painful the loss has been for her and her three children, and of the fears she has in bringing her husband home in this new condition. Above all else, though, she spoke of how God has been faithful in caring for them over the last year. She praised Him for fighting for her, her children, and her husband. Last week the church donated a wheelchair to Irene, answering her long, desperate prayers. She rejoiced, knowing her obedience in prayer ans faithfulness had not gone unnoticed. Please pray for Irene. Pray that she transitions into this role of caretaker easily. Pray that her family would experience healing. Pray that God would protect her husband from the difficulties that can come when one is home bound. Pray that God would continue to give each of them strength and peace as they seek Him.
Joyce was the most joyous woman, easily making the room full of faces smile. Joyce spoke of her past as an orphan and how God redeemed her situation. She spoke of a Heavenly Father who loves big and never forsakes. Joyce has taken every opportunity she has to give her family the best life she can. She and her husband are parents to four beautiful kiddos that smile just as much as their momma. Recently, Joyce and her two youngest babies were in a bus accident on the way to evangelize in a rural area. Her son broke his leg in the accident. Instead of speaking of tragedy or questioning why, Joyce smiled as she praised God for His grace and protection. Her attitude was an inspiration to me, as she refused to let any darkness be acknowledge.
Alice is a community health evangelist that partners with Life in Abundance in Kibera. Through the training of LIA, Alice has taught countless women to make jewelry and sandals from recycled materials. Alice was a joy to work with and learn from throughout the week. Not only is Alice empowered, but through her trainings and the power of multiplication, over 360 people in Kibera and rural areas have also been taught these skills. So many people can now support themeselves or provide for their families, because of the servant heart that Alice has.
Please pray with me for these awesome ladies, as I know they are praying for their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ!