AUTUMN 2014 Volume 61 Number 1 www.christianwomanmag.com
FREEDOM FIGHTER ELIZABETH KENDAL & THE PERSECUTED CHURCH
LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE BOOK OF RUTH
INNOCENT OR GUILTY? GOD’S VIEW OF
VEIL OF TEARS
YOUNG GIRLS FACING UNSPEAKABLE ABUSE
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CW contents: AUTUMN | 2014 06 Editor’s Letter 08 COVER STORY: Justice Innocent or Guilty? How do we respond to the Schapelle Corby case with our questions to God about His justice? ...Berni Dymet 12 For the Joy set before Him As Easter approaches, Natalie Box discovers 5 ways to be encouraged by the work of the cross... 14 Facing Mother’s Day with an Empty Nest All mothers must face that dreaded day when their children leave home. mother of three, Michelle Blanchard offers comfort for those facing mother’s day alone... 16 Veil of Tears Our daughters are pampered and adored in this country. It is almost unfathomable that there are little girls in Asia taking their own lives because they are looked upon as worthless. Geoff Darr shares this shocking story.... 20 Surviving the Freeze Charlie Arnett uses the current
cold snap in the USA to examine ourselves and the way that impacts new-comers into the church...... 22 Becoming a Crime Scene Investigator How do you sift through all the evidence to find the truth? Author and blogger Deb Lodder investigates...
24 Freedom Fighter Single mother of four, Elizabeth Kendal speaks candidly and openly of her struggle and the heart of compassion that was born from those trials to become an advocate for the Lord’s persecuted church... 26 Lessons I learned from the Book of Ruth A friendship with an older woman opened the doors to healing, grace and forgiveness... Barbara Clingwald
30 National Day of Thanksgiving This coming May 31st is the National Day of Thanksgiving. Annette Spurr encourages us to reach beyond the fence line and see the Mission field right in our very own street!...
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If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just
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will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 Welcome to the Autumn issue of Christian Woman magazine. I am sure our cover girl has already sparked some, perhaps not so positive, interest. ‘Why on earth would a convicted drug smuggler be on the cover of a reputable Christian magazine’? The answer is actually not completely all about Schapelle Corby and whether or not she is innocent or guilty, the answer lies within our response to ‘justice’. I have often found my index finger flailing about, pointing at this and that in outrage and condemnation, but what does God say about justice? Berni Dymet offers some sage advice regarding this hot topic. As we approach Easter and the work
of the cross, it timely that we remember what Jesus did for us. He bore all of our sin and death and offered to us a gift beyond imagine: forgiveness. Readily available to all when we confess our sin and offer true repentence. Now that is something to be encouraged by! This issue we also highlight the incredible work of Gospel for Asia. It is unthinkable that little girls are taking their own lives because they are considered unworthy. This heart breaking account, Veil of Tears is featured on page 16. We also profile single mother of four and author, Elizabeth Kendal as she speaks candidly and openly of her various personal struggles and finds
a heart of compassion to become an advocate for the Lord’s persecuted church. Each issue of Christian Woman comes to you from a team of incredible writers from all across the globe and we pray that you find encouragement and inspiration from these pages. Please share your copy with friends and family and don’t forget to leave us at your doctors surgery - you never know who may pick it up and find Christ from these very pages. Have a blessed Easter! Editor
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The New Face of Modern Missions Having a heart for people in need is second nature to Kayla Hanna. ‘Growing up, my family used to help out in a local soup kitchen and I saw how tough life could be for many people often without any warning or fault of their own. As a young person seeing these things, it changes you.” It was an early experience that meant Kayla was never going to sit behind a desk pushing a pen or tied to a computer.
“You only get one life – I really want mine to count.” “I want to make a difference; there is such a big world in need and I knew I was going to play my part in helping in some way.” “You only get one life – I really want mine to count. I don’t need to be famous, but I do need to be true to what I feel God has called me too. This is the only way for me to leave my mark.” It’s a great attitude. And while other young people of her age are dreaming of the big cities, bright lights and glitzy shopping strips, Kayla finds herself flying to Nepal and living in the desperate poverty of Nepalese orphanages.
“I look into these faces and I see bright eyed hope; in spite of their total poverty…” You can’t help but be moved by her passion. “I look into these faces and I see bright eyed hope; in spite of their total poverty and broken family circumstances, God still desires a future and a hope for them. In a small way I believe my mission is to help bring change.” Kayla’s visit to Nepal saw her working in a team that was bringing vital water, building construction and food supplies to orphaned
children she calls, ‘her kids.’ And when she is at home, alongside her Social Science studies majoring in human services and development, her focus are on fundraising to keep the supply of resources going. “I love combining my study with my practical field experience. There are some really big problems on the ground in that village – it really helps to be able to explore these strategic challenges being faced by this developing community both in the classroom and in the real world. I love how my lecturers at CHC encourage this type of real world learning. I am able to test what I learn in our field strategy meetings and it gives my learning such a motivating focus.” At Christian Heritage College, students are encouraged to engage in this type of discovery. According to Dr Johan Roux, Dean of Social Sciences for CHC, students come to both the undergraduate and postgraduate courses at different stages in their ministry development. “Not all are mission ready; but many realise that God has something important for them to do in the areas of compassionate care or social justice and want to prepare their minds, hearts and faith for the road ahead.”
These new wave of missional practitioners need to be personally equipped. And although young missionaries like Kayla are called and compelled to accept the spiritual challenge of Jesus’ Great Commission, in the physical world they are engaging in a complex and often daunting personal challenge. “Taking the Good News of Jesus to a broken and hurting world requires a deeper understanding of the cultural, physical and spiritual barriers that stand in the way. These new wave of missional practitioners need to be personally equipped by developing strong convictions in their Christian worldview, robust personal character and real world ministry and
professional knowledge and skills. It is probably this distinctive that makes CHC such a strongly preferred tertiary study option for students, not just in the world of Social Sciences, but across Education, Business and Ministry disciplines,’ say Dr Roux. For almost 30 years, CHC has been providing fully accredited tertiary course options and producing graduates who have pursued their calling as primary or secondary teachers, social workers, counsellors, pastors, youth workers, business entrepreneurs, accountants, marketers, missionaries and chaplains in all corners of the globe. Undergraduate and postgraduate options across most disciplines, as well as on campus, part time and external study options, allows each student the course and study model that best suits their stage in life. FEE-HELP and HECS-HELP are also available; making CHC accessible for all eligible students. At CHC, we will help you integrate transformative personal faith development with global standards of scholarship and professional best practice.
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Innocent or Guilty? by BERNI DYMET
DENPASAR, INDONESIA - APRIL 21: Translator Eka Sulistiowati sits with Australian Schapelle Corby (R) as she cries while listening to Prosecutor Ida Bagus Wisnawantu (out of shot) announcing the prosecution sentence demands in a Denpasar courtroom on April 21, 2005 in Denpasar, on the resort island of Bali, Indonesia. The then 27-year-old former Gold Coast beauty student had been charged over carrying 4.1 kilograms (9 lb) of marijuana into Bali airport the year before in her luggage. She continues to deny the allegations. (Photo by Dimas Ardian) 8 Christian Woman Autumn 2014
A Different Perspective.
I Find Myself with a Dilemma Not since the Azaria Chamberlain disappearance way back way in 1980 has a legal case so captured the fascination of Australians. Mention the name Schapelle Corby and everyone has an opinion. It ranges from “I’m sick of hearing about her” to “I don’t think she did it” to “I’m glad she’s out” to “Why are we making such a fuss about a convicted drug smuggler?” Everyone it seems, has an opinion. A Facebook post by Nowra pastor Peter Pilt, grabbed my attention recently. Peter’s an insightful character and he seems to have put his finger on what many of us are feeling: I am anti drugs and pro punishing drug traffickers; yet I support the early release of Schapelle Corby. My musing this morning in my brain is: Have I been manipulated by the media? Would I think differently if I had not seen the mental and emotional anguish of Corby on TV? Would my
position be different if it was a man? Would my position be different if I actually thought she was guilty? Would my position be different if I had lost someone to a drug overdose? I suspect many of us relate to the quandary that Peter expressed in that post. Is she guilty or not? Why do I feel sorry for her? Have I suspended my sense of reality? And how much are we affected by the fact of one of our own being banged up in in an Indonesian prison with appalling conditions, wanting to bring her home? And finally, by the way, why don’t we pay any attention to the dozen or so other Australians locked up in Indonesian prisons, especially the two on death row? Quite a quandary isn’t it? Let’s Presume that She’s Guilty for a Moment Okay – let’s say that we had
incontrovertible evidence that Schapelle “did it”. Absolutely rock–solid proof. As much as I am with Peter Pilt on being anti–drugs and pro punishing traffickers, I suspect in my heart of hearts – despite the evidence – I would still have wanted her released. Now… I don’t even know her. Never met her. And I’m known more for my sense of right and wrong than my sense of compassion. So I find myself in the uncomfortable position of wanting drug traffickers punished, and yet wanting Schapelle released. It’s a position that I find quite uncomfortable – because I have to bring together the fundamentally incompatible issues of justice and forgiveness. Of course, it’s a hypothetical – you and I haven’t seen the evidence, and in a forensic sense, we have no idea whether she did it, or she didn’t. But you see where I’m headed with this, right?
Join the conversation online: www.christianwomanmag.com 9
A Different Perspective. A convicted drug smuggler?! We’d be incensed. Outraged – wouldn’t we?! Of course we would, because we want to see justice served. Rapists, murders, drug smugglers, thieves… the lot of them. Lock ‘em up! Because this is the exact position that God finds Himself in, when He looks at you and me. Although in our case, there’s nothing hypothetical about it. There is absolutely no uncertainty in God’s mind, as to my guilt or innocence, or yours for that matter. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) So now … now God has a serious problem on His hands. God’s Problem is Serious I remember as a young Christian, wondering something along these lines: If God is God, why did He have to go through the whole drama of sending Jesus to this earth and having Him die on a Cross? After all, if God is God, why can’t He just forgive us? It’s not an unreasonable question to ask. Surely if God created the universe, He could make a decision as simple as that – just to forgive us when we asked – rather than this whole painful scene at the Cross. And for quite a few years I couldn’t find anyone to explain it to me. So … let’s go back to Schapelle for a moment. Let’s assume that she did it (I stress I have no idea whether she did or not) … so, she’s guilty as sin (hypothetically). The evidence is clear and she stands before the judge to be sentenced. Imagine if he said to her: Well Miss Corby, you did bad, but I like you. So I’m not going to sentence you to any prison time. You’re forgiven. Go home and enjoy the rest of your life. A convicted drug smuggler?! We’d be incensed. Outraged – wouldn’t we?! Of course we would, because we want to see justice served. Rapists, murders, drug smugglers, thieves… the lot of them. Lock ‘em up! And there’s God’s problem. God is just. It’s who He is. It’s in His nature. And, made as we are in His image, that’s
where we get our innate sense of justice from. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. (Rev 21:7,8) But God… God is also love and therein lies His problem. God Is Love When it comes right down to it, love and justice are basically incompatible. I know, parents discipline their children out of love (most of the time). But if you love someone, if you care for them – how can you possibly want them to be punished? Whether by prison, or through eternal separation from God. Imagine being Schapelle’s mother? Would you want your daughter to spend 20 years in a Bali prison – guilty or not? Absolutely not! Because you love her. And there, in this dichotomy that many of us like Peter Pilt are experiencing around Schapelle Corby’s case, lies in small part, the dilemma that God was faced with towards you and me and the rest of humanity for all time. What to do with them?! I love them beyond anything that words can express, but I am the God of justice and justice must be done. Wow! Now there’s one doosy of a problem, would you agree? The Only Solution Possible I’m not sure that you or I, had we been in God’s position, would ever have come up with a satisfactory answer. The requirements of justice and of love seem fundamentally irreconcilable. But to God, the solution was absolutely, blindingly, glimpsingly obvious. Whoever does not love does not know
God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:8–10) There you have it. There’s the answer. And when you think about it, it’s the only possible answer. God sent His one and only Son – Jesus – to die on that Cross to take our punishment that we so richly deserve, for the wages of sin is death . On that Cross the requirements of ultimate justice and ultimate love – both the very essence of the Nature of God – came together and met in the ultimate Sacrifice. Question: would you have gone to prison on behalf of Schapelle Corby? Not this little black duck! And yet Jesus died for you and me while we were still sinners: For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6–9) I’m sure that we’ll still be mulling over the Schapelle Corby case for decades to come. It will fascinate us, enthrall us and confound us, much like the Azaria Chamberlain case did. But in the meantime, the Schapelle Corby saga – and our confusing reactions to it – gives us some small insight into the most amazing dilemma of all time, and the most amazing decision ever made to resolve it. The decision to send Jesus to the Cross for thee and me. I scarce can comprehend how blessed we are to have a God so wise, so loving, so just and so compassionate. Where would we be … without Jesus?
Berni Dymet is the ceo + Bible teacher of the global media ministry Christianityworks. Each week his radio messages are heard by tens of millions of listeners in over 160 countries around the world. Visit christianityworks.com to request your free copy of his latest booklet and listen to his messages.
10 Christian Woman Autumn 2014
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Easter. As Easter approaches, NATALIE BOX discovers 5 ways to be encouraged by the work of the cross... We try to imagine the road he walked. With our limited thinking and finite minds, we attempt to understand the consequences of his extravagant actions, and what they actually mean to us. On our worst days, when confusion and disappointment and discouragement set in and overwhelm us, we look to Jesus and do our best to find comfort in the fact he “knows how we feel”. Then on days when the sun is shining, we thank him and praise him and everything is wonderful again. But it’s really so much bigger than this. As we head towards Easter, let us take a look at how this one moment stood out from billions of ‘moments’ in life, and changed the entire course of history. “We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels – everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and he holds it all together right up to this moment.” (Col 1:15-18 MSG) Just stop and let those words sink in as they release peace and stir passion in you. He holds all things together. Zoom out with me for a moment. Look at your entire life from your birth until now. Every single second of every day was preplanned before you even lived one moment. (Paraphrased Psalm 139:16). And here you are now, on this day, reading these words. Now look at the timeline of history. One day long ago, on a hill called Calvary, a man named Jesus made one passionate decision, the significance of which would affect eternity. As we reflect on this stunning act, I pray you will be encouraged and refreshed. So what really happened that day? Well it all started with you actually. Rewind back to before the foundations of 12 Christian Woman Autumn 2014
SET BEFORE HIM
the earth; God saw your entire life from beginning to end, and the magnificent plan was set in place. What a glorious day that was. Now fast-forward to 2000 years ago. As Jesus was preparing to go to the cross, he saw something and a new passion arose within him. He saw your face. As he walked that long and painful road to Calvary, his gaze was fixed on yours. Like a beloved photograph in his wallet, after every impossible step, he kept checking it. As he was beaten, whipped, tortured and bruised, he continued to look at it, and it gave him the strength to keep going. Then as he was lifted on that cross, the crowd jeered; but your face was still in front of him and he gritted his teeth.
As his flesh hung off him and his blood dripped to the ground, you were all he could see. Through the most agonizing and grueling death, the passion that gave him the strength to keep him going was actually joy. And that JOY was you my friend. Jesus, your dear friend, endured the worst pain imaginable, and then purchased for you the greatest freedom imaginable. “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God.” (Heb 12:2 NIVUK) Life collided with death and changed everything forever. So what does the cross mean in our everyday lives? We have access to unfathomable power and revitalizing hope whenever we need it.
So what does the cross mean in our everyday lives? We have access to unfathomable power and revitalizing hope whenever we need it. NIV), ready to equip you for everything you face. 2. Cultivate thankfulness. As we stop and really look, we can see the power of the cross is passionately displayed every area of our lives. Take a moment now and write down ten things you are thankful for in your life, and remember, thankfulness releases the miraculous. :) 3. Lift your eyes. As you take your eyes off your situation and “fix (them) on Jesus” (Heb 12:2 NIV); your thoughts immediately shift to him. As you lock eyes with him, he is magnified, and your problems shrink. Let peace overwhelm you as you see from his perspective. 4. Stir up the passion. Passion releases joy. Just as passion drove Jesus to the cross, as you stir up the dreams and desires in your heart, this passion will fuel you to step into all he has for you. 5. Remember the victory is already yours. Whatever happens, you have the victory. Whatever your circumstance, that spectacular moment in history continues to stand as a beacon of hope over you. It shines truth and light, and always with the promise of victory.
When things go wrong or we receive a report that shakes the ground we have been standing on, because of the cross, we can rest assured that overwhelming victory is ours. Jesus promised us, “In life you will (endure) many trials and sorrows, but take heart because I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33 NLT). It’s almost too much to comprehend. The power of the cross flows through time, and is available for us to access at any time. “From beginning to end he is there, towering above everything and everyone… all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe – people and things, animals and atoms – get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his
death, his blood poured down from the cross.” (Col 1:18-20 MSG) Perhaps you’re in a great season of your life, or maybe things may seem out of order, chaotic even; but good news, whatever season you’re in, here are some ways you can be encouraged this season.
Take time to allow him to speak to you. Let him show you of the wonderful significance of the cross in your life. As you continue to celebrate the victory Jesus won, remember that YOU were the joy that gave him the strength to win. God bless you and Happy Easter. :) CW
5 Ways To Be Encouraged This Easter: 1. Remember the cross. It’s not like we purposely forget, I think it’s just that we simply ‘forget to remember’! So today, remember what he did. Remember that he is right here with you, and remember that “the same spirit that raised him lives in you” (Rom 8:11
Natalie Box is a writer, blogger and voiceover artist. She’s passionate about encouraging people to dream bigger and to walk in all God has created them to be. You can visit her blog at www.thewritersink.com.au for a daily dose of encouragement, inspiration and beauty.
Facing Mother’s Day with an Empty Nest All mothers must face that dreaded day when their children leave home. mother of three, Michelle blanchard offers comfort for those facing mother’s day alone..
Silent Rooms I’m walking in a new season of life. For years, I was more likely to be called ‘Mom’ than by my given name. First spoken in childish lisping, more recently, a call dripping with desperation for a clean bath towel… No longer do calls of “Mom” echo in the empty hallways of our home. Older sisters have married and moved
14 Christian Woman Autumn 2014
on. My youngest, Bonnie, is nineteen, and now lives at university. Americans have a saying, when the last child leaves home, “the nest is empty”. Yet, I was unprepared for the waves of sadness which would strike me in my now-silent home. As my half-century birthday approaches; I look forward to my first Mother’s Day with an Empty Nest. I’d
always considered motherhood a calling, so I ask what God is calling me to do now? Off to University When Bonnie started university in the next city, we agreed that she should live at home and ride the bus to school. As she’d graduated high school, our relationship changed, but my nest was
I realised that the times of togetherness were trickling away, like grains of sand in the hour glass. I could not push away a sense of finality, she was really leaving! not empty. My husband, Brian, who works seven months in Alaska drives up each year. Bonnie still “needed” me drive her with our remaining car to the commuter bus. I worked full-time, yet took care of household chores to give her more time for her studies. Anticipating Separation All of that changed the instant she landed a great summer gift shop job selling blown glass art. Eyes bright with the glow of new adventure, she planned to join her dad in Alaska. Bonnie would make enough to move into her own apartment the following year. I realised that the times of togetherness were trickling away, like grains of sand in the hour glass. I could not push away a sense of finality, she was really leaving! In the few weeks before, the grief would startle me, and a harsh feeling would unexpectedly choke the back of my throat, threatening tears… I wish I’d been braver at our final airport good-bye, but I wasn’t. The Empty Nest I returned to a hushed home, and a lot of questions. The next day would be our 27th Wedding Anniversary; the dog and cat greeted me, yet no human voice responded. In my distress I cried to the Lord, and He directed me to 2 Kings 2:614 9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me, what I can do for you before I am taken from you?’ ‘Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,’ Elisha replied. 10 ‘You have asked a difficult thing,’ Elijah said, ‘yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours – otherwise, it will not.’ 11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah
went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, ‘My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!’ And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two. 13 Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. ‘Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?’ he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over. (2 Kings 2:914 NIVUK) 12
A Demonstration of God’s Power Like Elijah and Elisha, Bonnie and I had been a great team. I had encouraged her to develop her gifts and calling to prepare for adulthood. Just before he was taken up, Elijah rolled up his mantle and struck the Jordan River. The waters rolled back, so the two walked together on dry ground. Elijah lived a life expecting the power of God in everyday life; Elisha had the same eager expectation. As we walk by faith, our children will follow in our spiritual footsteps. God-Ordained Separation When my anguished spirit cried out to God, the Spirit of the Lord comforted me: 1. Just like Elijah and Elisha had known ahead of time —The Lord had given us time to prepare for this separation. 2. Our separation was God-ordained, in the fullness of his time, to fulfill his sovereign will and purpose. 3. A whirlwind took Elijah up as a reward for his faithfulness. His labour of love was complete. 4. God wasn’t punishing me by taking Bonnie away. I needed to stop crying out in my loneliness and
recognise that he was rewarding me for a job well done. 5. Finally, like Elisha, God knew Bonnie could be trusted to walk in Christ on her own. Had she remained in our home, she might not have discovered this truth. The Battle Won Though the separation spot in my heart is still sore, I know that he does all things well, and I know I have won the Battle. Battle? What Battle? Ah, every Mom knows The Battle of which I speak… the years we spent selflessly nurturing; we’re no longer there to encourage, or cajole or nag anymore… yet ingrained in our children’s spirits are years of habit. A truth like a healing balm entered my heart. Our young adults won’t be comfortable unless they take care of themselves at the same level Mom used to take care of them! If they’re used to eating good meals, junk food won’t satisfy. If they know the mantle of Elijah could again strike the waters, and the waters would roll back, they won’t be satisfied with a shallow spiritual life. They will crave the genuine, shun the counterfeit. They won’t be fulfilled with lesser things! Their hearts will seek the standards with which they were raised… How can my heart be empty when I know I have won?! Michelle Blanchard and her husband, Brian have served as home missionaries in Alaska and Montana in the USA. The mother of three home-schooled, grown daughters, Michelle is working on a book “Music Mom”, which grapples with the question of how to raise a musically gifted child to follow her calling in Christ, without getting spoiled by the applause of the crowd. If nobody else is willing, she may be directing the kid’s Christmas musical...
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The suicide rate among young women in India is 10 times higher than the worldâ€™s average.
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Our daughters are pampered and adored in this country. It is almost unfathomable that there are little girls in Asia taking their own lives because they are looked upon as worthless. GEOFF DARR shares this shocking story...
Sugar and spice and all things nice – that’s what little girls are made of! – but, not for some! Little girls – boxes and bows – as parents we love our little ones. But for vulnerable women in Asia, every stage from birth to death is a minefield of peril. Will She Be Allowed to Be Born? Even before a baby girl is born, her life is at risk. If her mother has the chance to determine her female gender with an illegal ultrasound, the chances are high that she will abort the baby. Making it outside of the womb doesn’t increase a baby girl’s chance of acceptance. In a story reported from India, one woman had twins, a boy and a girl. The family rejoiced over the boy, but the new mother took the fragile little girl upstairs and threw her out of a second-story window, watching her die as she hit the street below. How could a mother do this? Because girls in Asia are considered worthless, merely another mouth to feed. And because, perhaps, this mother wanted to spare her daughter from enduring life as a woman. The most feared three words in Asia –is “It’s a girl!”
their preteen years like walking through a minefield. At the least, adolescent girls are subjected to the lewd comments and harassment of men in their neighborhood. Some men consider it their right to get pleasure from any female they lay eyes on. In the dark corners of most Asian cities linger evil men who prey upon young girls, snatching them up to sell into the ever-booming sex trade.
Because parents consider girls such a liability, many sell their young daughters to a pimp so they can make a profit. Sena was a beautiful, intelligent 14-year-old Asian girl with a very bright future. But she, like so many women in Asia, was merely considered a toy for men to use. She faced constant sexual harassment in her own neighbourhood. She was stalked and subjected to lewd comments and indecent exposure. Finally she was thrown to the ground and
Preteen Years: Terror on Every Side The girls who survive childhood navigate
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Tormented and unable to bear the humiliation, Sena turned to the only escape she knew. She was found hanging from a ceiling fan in her parents’ home.
assaulted by a group of men. Neighbours saw it happening—and did nothing. Tormented and unable to bear the humiliation, Sena turned to the only escape she knew. She was found hanging from a ceiling fan in her parents’ home. Marriage Years Bring More Bondage If a girl makes it to marriageable age, she will be negotiated away to the man her parents choose and move to her husband’s home, where she is most likely not welcome. Husbands who feel the dowry they received for their new bride was too low will take matters into their own hands. Every year, there are more than 9,000 reported cases of bride burning in India. Beatings by alcoholic husbands are so common they aren’t even tracked. The hopelessness is so rampant that suicide is the number-one cause of death among women at this stage of life. The wife may receive favor for a while if she is lucky enough to give birth to a son. But if she bears daughters, that only brings further grief. One husband took a knife and cut off his wife’s nose because she gave birth to a second daughter. It was two days before she received any medical care—and no justice was ever served. Cursed for Her Husband’s Death If at any time a woman’s husband dies, no matter what the cause, she is blamed. She will be considered a curse on her family—made to dress in white to distinguish her as someone to avoid. If she is lucky her eldest son may give her a corner of his house to live out her 18 Christian Woman Autumn 2014
life. Most are not that fortunate to have a corner to call home. To deal with this “curse,” society adopted a series of rituals. The family will typically shave the widow’s head, take away her jewelry and kick her out of the home to live on the streets. Her only choice for survival will probably be begging or becoming a prostitute. From there, all she has to look forward to is eternity . . . apart from God. Veil of Tears Movie In South Asia a baby girl is often seen as a curse. Many don’t even live past infancy, and if they do their life is short and hard. They are the lowest and the least, but God loves them. The problem is when the Male missionaries try and tell them they shy away. Thankfully God is raising up Bible Women. They are totally dedicated and eager to share God’s love with these women. She understands their oppression. She sympathises with their hurt. She has lived that life. The only difference between her and any other woman in Asia is she has hope, she has Jesus… and she’s eager to share! God has raised up approximately 2,000 women to reach out to the women around them who would not have otherwise heard of Jesus and the life that He brings. Through women’s fellowships, literacy classes and lots of love these Bible Women are reaching the Women of Asia. Learn how you can support them! This gripping new documentary film tells the untold story of millions of women in India who are culturally persecuted for no other reason than the
fact that they are women. From birth until death, their life is a vicious cycle of poverty and oppression, from the mass epidemic of female suicides, dowry deaths, forced abortion to the high rate of illiteracy among the women and even how more than 46 MILLION widows are being cast aside and ostracized by society simply because their husband died. However, despite more than a millennia of hardships, the Gospel is being spread into the remote villages as Christian women are now rising up across the entire nation of India; bringing cultural change in every area of life for these generations of broken women, through the hope of Jesus Christ. These are the faces of true survivors. Those who have withstood a lifetime of adversity in the face of a culture stacked against them. Take a heartfelt journey through the eyes of these women, and others, who unveil their personal stories of triumph over persecution, rejection, abandonment and a life of tragedy. Get a glimpse of the true resilience of the human spirit and how the love of Jesus is restoring hope and dignity to a generation of broken women, and rebuilding shattered lives. Narrated by Dove Award-Winning, Grammy-Nominated, CCM Recording Artist Natalie Grant, Directed & Produced by the critically-acclaimed filmmakers, Kenny & Kyle Saylors (Kimjongilia, The Gamebreaker, My Finish Line), this film was shot onlocation across the stunning nation of India, in some of the most remote tribal villages in the world today. This is more than just a film, it is a journey into
About Gospel For Asia While the film, “Veil of Tears”, brings into focus the truth behind a dark reality existing in the world today, we are excited to highlight the hope being given to countless millions of women each day through the work and ministry of GFA. www. gospelforasia.org.au Changing Villages, One Person at a Time With the ever-expanding population of people in Asia, the need for aid, education and Jesus’ love is growing day by day. Gospel for Asia is involved in sharing the love of Christ through national missionaries. These men and women missionaries are trained in Bible colleges to share the hope found in Christ. After training, they go to the unreached people of South Asia and share the love of God in the nations they serve. We also minister to children through our Bridge of Hope program, providing education, quality meals and a loving environment to over 60,000 children in South Asia. For over 30 years, Gospel for Asia has continued to bring aid and hope to some of the most downtrodden people in South Asia.
a world where few outsiders have gone before. However, despite more than a millennia of hardships, the Gospel is being spread into the remote villages as Gospel for Asia
(GFA) Bible women are now rising up across the entire nation of India; bringing cultural change in every area of life for these generations of broken women, through the hope of Jesus Christ. CW
View the trailer and signup for the FREE simulcast at www.gospelforasia.org.au
New kids activity, art & craft subscription - with a twist... How many ways are there to explore a Bible story? “Hundreds,” according to Nyree Tomkins, who has just launched a kids activity & craft subscription with a twist: the packs are all themed around a Bible story.
Nyree, the day the starter kit rucksacks arrived. The rucksacks come with a luggage tag kit, passport and craft supplies.
Designed for kids aged 6-10, each monthly pack contains at least 2 craft kits, a pack guide containing a Bible story, nature fact page, puzzles, a ‘secret assignment’ and a sticker to collect in the Rucksack Safari passport.
They are made by Freeset in India, which provides employment to vulnerable girls and women escaping the sex trade industry.
“It’s an easy way,” says Nyree, “to introduce Bible themes into the home in a fun and informal way.” Inspired partly by the desire to introduce Bible stories to her adoptive niece and nephew, she was able to bring her talent for writing and creativity together to produce a package that is fun for kids and introduces them to a God who loves them and can be relied upon for their life-long journey.
Product testers Summer and Jesse hard at work on the baby Moses diorama - part of the first Rucksack Safari “As I have developed these packs,” says Nyree, “I have had in mind people like myself craft pack, to be delivered – these are aunties, friends, uncles, grandmas and granddads on the sidelines of a April 2014.
child’s life who, perhaps separated by distance, would like a way they can connect with those kids regarding the things of God and eternity.
Rucksack Safari is an ideal gift for a grandchild, niece or nephew! “I’ve also had in mind mums and dads who would like to engage more with To subscribe to the monthly activity packs, or to get Nyree’s their kids regarding matters of faith but who lack the ideas or the time to source e-mail newsletter with FREE downloadable activity sheets materials. With the rucksack packs you get the ideas AND the stuff you need to make and creative ideas, go to: them with AND it all gets delivered to your door!”
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CHARLIE ARNETT uses the current cold snap in the USA to examine ourselves and the way that impacts new-comers into the church...
It’s been one of those winters in the USA hasn’t it? Some even say it rivals the winter of 1973! Most of us under the age of 40 or so don’t even remember the last time we have been hit with a winter like this. School kids are beginning to think that they will be stuck in classes for most of the summer months and hourly paid workers are watching their paychecks dwindle. Thousands have been left without power for days and states of emergency have been issued as far south as Alabama. Even parts of Florida have been affected by the brutal cold and wintery precipitation! When I walked out the door with my 15 year old son this morning he pulled his winter coat tightly around him and muttered “BRRR…just…brrrrrrr!” and today it warmed up to -6 degrees for our morning ride to school. I wonder: is your church caught 20 Christian Woman Autumn 2014
in a winter freeze? When people walk through the doors do they mutter to themselves “BRRRRR… just… brrrrrr!”? Immediately, I’m certain that your answer is “No way! We hug, we shake hands, we smile… heck… we descend on our visitors with gifts and love with all the might of a hungry pack of wolves! No one leaves MY church without feeling totally loved and welcomed!!” Yes, I agree, that is the trend in most churches today. We have realized that in the past we were not the warmest or the most welcoming of environments and we have certainly made a change. But the question goes deeper than these outward shows of affection. The true warmth of the body of Christ is found deeper than that first encounter and requires a total paradigm shift to happen within you as an individual.
Notice, that I am (yes it’s true) calling you out. I’ve shifted here from looking at your church as a group to asking you to look only at yourself. Now is the moment when you begin to squirm and perhaps decide that this particular article isn’t for you. (GRIN) Keep reading because while this transformation is one for the entire body, it begins with just you. Just one person exacting a change in yourself. Don’t worry about anyone else; just focus on you for now. My experiences with church warmth and a perceived lack thereof stems from a misplaced focus on the final statement of Jesus found in John 8:11. This portion of John covers the story of the woman caught in adultery who is then dragged before Jesus for stoning. At the end of the story, Jesus instructs the woman to “Go and sin no more”. We have traditionally spent so much time on
The true warmth of the body of Christ is found deeper than that first encounter and requires a total paradigm shift to happen within you as an individual.
feeling guilty and on helping those around us to feel guilty that we get caught in this awful cycle of judgment both of ourselves and each other. Well, it’s time for a thaw. It’s time to stop this dichotomy and realise that all this guilt and judgment is misplaced and brings only the state of emergency that follows an ice storm in Alabama! I typically disdain academia when talking about God but this verse begs some deeper scrutiny. I will not delve fully into all of the chatter which surrounds this somewhat controversial story. But suffice it to say that very often something gets lost in translation. The Greek verb hamartane or hamartano which was originally used in John 8 and previously in John 5 by Jesus at the pool of Bathesda is weakly translated to the English word sin. Its literal meaning speaks to an arrow or a spear that has missed its mark or in this sense to go astray from the path one is traveling. The English word ‘sin’ is used here out of lack of an English word that encompasses this idea. So Jesus is literally telling the woman to return to her path. Here is where our real focus needs to be but too often is not! Jesus says to this woman, “neither do I condemn you” and follows it with, “now go home”! This is not a command that she should never sin again or that she even needs to try to never sin again. Jesus is not sending condemnation down through the ages for us to use as a weapon of guilt against ourselves and one another. NO. Jesus is gently guiding this woman back to her right path and offering her the forgiveness that she so needed in order to get back on her path. There is no expectation of her perfection implied when Jesus tells her to go back. He’s simply saying ‘go give this thing another try and learn from your mistakes’. He’s not demanding that she somehow never experience temptation or sin again in her life. He doesn’t even throw out an expectation that she will never commit this same sin again. I hear Christians use ‘go and sin no more’. So often as a sort of self-flagellation tool that then in turn gets used against others. People will say things like ‘but you have to go and sin no more. You have to turn away from sin. You have to be perfect even as the father in heaven is perfect. You are refusing to turn from your sin’. So many of us have picked out these couple of verses to use as weapons. Even if you have never used them out loud, you have probably allowed them to whisper to your soul
in this way. Wow… warm and inviting right? I personally don’t refuse to turn away from sin but I do not have my badge of perfection yet. I will ‘sin no more’; but not till I’m done learning from my mistakes here on this old planet I call home for the time being. It is so very important for us to remember that only Jesus was capable of ‘sin no more’ on this earth and that’s why he can offer salvation. If it were possible, we would have no need of Jesus sacrifice and his offering would have been in vain. Come now, this is not a call to total abandon and do whatever you want, don’t go there. Simply allow yourself your imperfection, seek God and allow Him to lead; knowing as He does, that you will fall and that He will still love you and pick you back up. That He will look you lovingly in the eye and whisper to your soul, “neither do I condemn you…now go and give it another shot.” My earthly body is good enough for the creator of the universe to call His temple. He calls it that in all of its flawed glory. I am sinful and I am saved! We all refuse to turn away from our sinful nature; it’s who we are as humans, it is impossible to refuse that part of us because to do so would make us like God and we are not. We can turn from sin (otherwise known as the devil) by turning to God but that is not the same thing as being sin free. The only sin that removes us from God is a refusal to accept His gift of life. The devil is to fear as God is to love. Let’s make a commitment to move away from fear and condemnation and towards love and forgiveness. We are promised that ‘sin no more’ and ‘be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect’ are attainable for us, the body of Christ. We know that we will get there one day but not on our own steam. Not because we can attain ‘sinlessness’ here in this world. Rather, we will get there presisely because Jesus never really demanded of anyone ‘go and sin no more’. He offers no condemnation and gently sets us back on our right path time and time again as we learn to allow Him to lead and teach us what we each individually need to know. Me? I can’t wait till the day when I will stand blameless before God. That will be awesome! Until then, we don’t need to be sinless: only saved! Welcome the thaw in your own heart and allow God to use that warmth to thaw everyone you touch. Make it an epidemic! CW
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How do you sift through all the evidence to find the truth? Author and blogger DEB LODDER investigates...
Becoming a Crime Scene
INVESTIGATOR Evidence. It is all around. It is where the small details become very relevant. Piecing together each one and working towards a conclusion, the eyes of an investigator see all things as a possible lead, knowing that together they tell the complete story. A thorough look at each scene that has taken place, whilst keeping an open mind to every possibility would be a very necessary ability. I am not personally a Crime Scene Investigator, but do believe I can learn from the way they operate. The greatest would be to keep my focus on the bigger picture and take in every piece of evidence before
22 Christian Woman Autumn 2014
coming to a conclusion or making an assumption. (I have found that making an assumption often causes incorrect decisions or actions.) Recently I used this analogy in a personal experience. I would love to share this, as you may find it helpful also. The experience was more emotional than physical and fed very well through the mind, and although there was no factual evidence to support the negative and very destructive thought patterns, they continued. So much so that the thoughts lead to a very depressive atmosphere felt not only by myself, but also by others sharing life’s journey with us. There was a ‘sense’ that was not able to be categorized as either good or bad;
it was in itself a ‘knowing’ that there was something about to unfold. Regardless of the lack of evidence or whether the outcome would be for or against us, the pulling was, as it often is, towards the negative. Why is the negative the one that speaks the loudest? And why does this seems to be the most believable option? Travelling on in this pattern for several days, the fruit was beginning to show and the situation was becoming very serious. There was an ongoing questioning of our lives, and every move we made, an atmosphere of a bleak outcome heading our way, and a growing tendency to bicker at each other. With every move being questioned, it was becoming obvious that ‘divide and
Why is the negative the one that speaks the loudest? And why does this seems to be the most believable option?
conquer’ was in place. Should we no longer be a strong ‘together’ force, there was no chance of success in our world. It was at this point that I began to look at the situation in a factual sense, piecing together only what was clearly the truth, removing myself emotionally, (well as much as I could), so we could put in place the necessary steps. We could not continue on this path. To assist us in doing this we asked questions like: • If we had our time again, would we do the same? • Do we believe that the moves we have made were the correct ones? • Are we doing all that we can to the best of our ability? • Do we really believe that God has our best at heart? Reflecting on these and accepting that life ‘happens’ to us all, the view from where we were standing became clearer and more achievable. With clarity of mind and a full awareness of the effects of feeding our minds the wrong
thoughts we were able to begin a new day with a new mindset. How many times does the enemy lie to us and cause us to see only what he wants us to! This is not to say that we do not or will not think in a negative way again, but through it all, I have learnt that taking each circumstance/challenge and breaking it down to obtain the evidence to back it up, allows for a clearer and more positive mindset. It truly is so important to keep our mind free from bad thoughts. As God instructs: “…..I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious— the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. Philippians 4:8 (MSG) So although I am not a Crime Scene Expert, I have learnt that standing before our enemy with facts is helpful and necessary to see the truth. CW
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Single mother of four, ELIZABETH KENDAL speaks candidly and openly of her struggle and the heart of compassion that was born from those trials to become an advocate for the Lord’s persecuted church...
“I’m a divorced, single mother of four for goodness sake! What on earth can I do for the Lord?” I really didn’t think I could do anything much – not now all my hopes and dreams were shot to shreds. Yet since giving my heart to the Lord at age 17, I’d wanted to serve him. God had given me a zeal for his Church; I longed to see Christians strong and secure in faith. Though hopes and dreams were shattered, my faith was strong; so I presented myself to the King. As I was petitioning the Lord for work in his service, the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA RLC) was petitioning the Lord for a worker who would serve. 24 Christian Woman Autumn 2014
Persecution might manifest itself as political, physical and psychological violence, but ultimately it is a spiritual battle. Understanding this, the WEA RLC rightly concluded that it must do more than just monitor and lobby for religious liberty – it must operate a prayer ministry. In August 1998 God used the violent persecution of Egypt’s indigenous Christian Copts in al-Kosheh, Upper Egypt, to call me into his service. Over the next ten months, he brought me and WEA RLC together. I have I’ve been advocating for the Lord’s persecuted church ever since. With hindsight I can see that God actually enacted his plan some fourteen
years earlier, when, as a young newly married woman, Isaiah 58:6-12 was read over me: “to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke” (verse 6). Then the divine training began! While the next seven years were extremely difficult, I now realise that they were years of preparation and education wherein God cultivated within my heart a deep compassion for those who suffer, and equipped me with a personal understanding of their struggle. Through those difficult years I learned how suffering can challenge one’s faith and seriously mess with one’s head – leaving a believer confused, hurt,
Wherever Christians are a counter-cultural minority amidst a hostile majority, there is persecution
isolated and angry. While some believers rebel, others do what I did and withdraw into themselves (passive aggression). It was not until a dear friend suggested to me that I was angry with God that it even registered with me that I was! I thought I was just sad, hurt, confused and disappointed. “No,” she said, “I think you are so angry with God that you are no longer on speaking terms with him.” And she was right! Through those difficult years God showed me that the Lord is with his loved ones in the midst of their suffering. On one dark day in 1991, I was tearfully informing the Lord of my intention to kill myself when I suddenly caught sight of my Bible. “You don’t love me,” I protested as I swiped the book off the table. Upon hitting the floor, my Bible fell open to Isaiah 53: “. . . he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities . . .” Immediately I knew that God was speaking to me, saying, “This is how much I love you.” Through those difficult years I came to understand how people who are abused, bullied and persecuted can become outspoken apologists for their abusers/persecutors. What starts out as a strategy aimed at keeping oneself safe ultimately becomes a state of mind rendering one captive. Anyone wanting to help the abused/persecuted must understand this. And remember, truth is often terrifying before it is liberating. Trust is absolutely key. I have learned to trust the Lord in and for everything; I have learned that the Lord can be trusted. In fact God’s faithfulness
excites me so much I long to see everyone to experiencing it. The world is changing rapidly and radically, becoming increasingly intolerant of Christianity and hostile towards Christians. Wherever Christians are a counter-cultural minority amidst a hostile majority, there is persecution – the extent varying widely depending on the level of impunity and state complicity. As I write, around 40 Christians are imprisoned for their faith and witness in Iran, some 2,000 in Eritrea and over 50,000 in North Korea. In Egypt, Pakistan and India, Christians are living with the daily threat of violent pogroms and forced displacements. Whole Christian communities – from the most ancient in the Egypt, the Levant and Iraq to the newest in Burma’s Kachin State, Sudan’s Nuba Mountains and Papua, Eastern Indonesia – are being decimated by ethno-religious cleansing and genocidal jihad. For millions of Christians around the world, violent persecution committed with impunity has become the order of the day. Considering this reality, the greatest scandal of all must surely be that so many free and prosperous Western churches simply don’t care; they don’t even want to know! Persecuted Christians desperately need humanitarian aid and political advocacy. But most of all, they need the Church to do what no other institution or organisation can do: they need us to go in and fight for them at a spiritual level. They need and implore us to pray for them: that aid will get through, that policy will change, that war will cease, that the Lord will intervene, and most of all, that their faith will remain strong so that God might be glorified. Intercessory prayer is no small thing: it is advocacy to the highest authority; it is serious spiritual warfare (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). No matter what your circumstances, if you are a woman of God then God wants to use you. So lift up your head (Psalm 3:3), arm yourself for battle (Eph 6:12f) and present yourself to the King (James 1:5-6).
International religious liberty analyst, Elizabeth Kendal, is the Director of Advocacy at Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF) Canberra, and an Adjunct Research Fellow in the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths (CSIOF) at Melbourne School of Theology (MST). Her book, Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today – which presents a Biblical response to suffering and persecution – was published by Deror Books in Dec 2012. www. ElizabethKendal.com Join the conversation online: www.christianwomanmag.com 25
Lessons I learned from
The Book of Ruth A friendship with an older woman opened the doors to healing, grace and forgiveness... BARBARA CLINGWALD While driving down California’s 101 Freeway, approaching Ventura I was enjoying the beauty of the day, the ocean view and some unusually light traffic. Then perversely, ruining the bliss of my ride, I found something to worry about. The previous evening, my husband and I had a particularly special time with friends and I wanted to reciprocate with some sort of thank you gift. But what would everyone actually enjoy? I puzzled over this as I zipped past a few exits when the solution came to me. I remembered what Ruth had taught me. First, I would invite the children to come with me to a toy store. On the way I would explain that each child could pick out the one thing that looked like the most fun and that would be their gift from me. When Ruth had told me about giving gifts to children this way, I wondered if it might not cause a problem like the child crying and begging for more than one gift. Ruth had told me confidently that it always works and the child is very happy. I have already used this advice twice and have been surprised and relieved each time to see that indeed she was right. “(…) Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show kindness to you, as you have shown (…) to me.” (Ruth 1:8) Lesson One Finding the Survivor in You Ruth’s youngest daughter had just won the latest battle in the war over who was now in charge. Like it or not, another caregiver was about to show up. Ruth was patient enough to meet with me, after all one battle does not mean the war has been won. In the bathroom getting ready, Ruth took a good look in the mirror. Wryly she remembered, “ everyone always said that I was the pretty one in the family, if only they could see me now!” She laughed a little to herself and put the hairbrush down. In fact her famous beauty was still evident in the eighty-eight year old body she now inhabited. Bright green eyes and a mop of curly gray hair were appropriate 26 Christian Woman Autumn 2014
physical clues to let people know that there was still plenty of life, fun and intelligence in this woman. She was not one to be dismissed lightly. My introduction to Ruth began almost three years ago as I walked up her driveway. I was wondering if this was something I wanted to do. My last caretaker job had been with a successful song writer. It had been both challenging and rewarding. It also let me work in a luxurious setting. Now, trudging up to the modest apartment house with the somewhat dingy exterior, I told myself that I could just meet her, then decide if I wanted to do this. To my great relief, stepping into the apartment I felt like Alice in Wonderland, falling through the looking glass. Outside it was uninteresting and rather gloomy. But inside it was open and light with town and mountain views. Ruth’s artwork enlivened her home. We immediately became friends. Of course twists and turns in our relationship were coming, but they would be managed “I like to walk to the beach every day,” .Ruth said. “It is a half a mile up and back so I get a good mile walk in each day.” Accompanying her on walks to the beach was the first duty Ruth gave me and it proved to be one I enjoyed as much as she did. I had to maneuver other tasks like changing her linens. “No one but me can do that, I like it a certain way.” In short time I was able to tell her hat if she wanted clean sheets, she better teach me how she likes it done as these needed changing. We worked it out as we did with other issues. She wasn’t one to let others help her. It was a quality I had to admire and to try to gracefully circumvent. There are myriad ways to teaching and learning. Being told what to do and how to do it is one way. But observing and using your own brain and heart to figure out how to solve a problem is trickier yet possibly the way to a more indelible understanding. In more subtle ways, Ruth taught me some unforgettable
lessons. Like the Ruth of the Bible, she too was a survivor. About two years into working with Ruth, her health began to fail. Our walks became rarer and shorter as the stairs to her apartment became an insurmountable obstacle. As she became more confined to her apartment she would sit in her favorite chair and send me on the errands she required. When those were done I would sit with her, my sketch book ready to draw her there and make note of her more outrageous statements. One such noteworthy example was the time she told me matter-of-factly that after her third marriage she declared herself done with that particular institution. She had sighed and told me simply, “I got tired of changing rings and last names.” It struck me that most divorced people carry life-long scars and specific complaints about their former spouse. But not Ruth, for her it was just done and over. I can’t help but suspect that she was the giver of broken hearts, not the receiver. Her lack of complaints about a former husband weren’t my only hint as to how her history played out. Her daughters each enjoyed telling me about the idiosyncratic author that used to follow her around like a lovesick puppy. Hearing them, Ruth would snap “that never happened!” That got a roll of the eyes from the tale barer and a nod indicating, “it did too!.” Eventually Ruth was left in charge of his estate which she distributed as entrusted to her. Amazingly he wasn’t the only person to trust her enough to do this. In the 1950’s this ill-prepared woman loaded her three young girls into her car and left the East Coast and headed out for the West Coast and never looked back. Husband number three would be where Ruth drew the line. No more men who were not safe and caring for us. And so it was to be for Ruth and her daughters. Her youngest daughter remembers being uncomfortable about crossing state lines when they left. Seeing road signs warning that “You are now leaving
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In the 1950’s this ill-prepared woman loaded her three young girls into her car and left the East Coast and headed out for the West Coast and never looked back. Husband number three would be where Ruth drew the line. No more men who were not safe and caring for us. And so it was to be for Ruth and her daughters. The next door neighbors were a source of special friendship for Ruth. Specifically a kindergarten age girl named Nueva and her younger brother Jonah. Nueva was a princess in demeanor and her little brother was her loyal footman. When they came over it never took long for Nueva to ask politely if she could use the bathroom. She clearly loved experiencing the clean and tidy room. One where no male had neglected to put the seat down or in any Lesson 2 way had left evidence of their presence. Finding Friendship Around You The Ruth of the Bible was an imperfect It also seemed to offer welcome a person. She told those greeting her that welcome quiet space, with no one her name should be Mara for life for her knocking on the door wanting their turn was bitter after losing her family. My in the busy room. For her Ruth was the Ruth was short of perfection as well, yet perfect companion for the lady time she both of these women loved and were so enjoyed. Her visits were mostly spent discussing school, the day’s adventures loved in return. Ruth from California had and her friends while pretending to have intentionally opted to live in a community tea. Meanwhile, Nueva’s brother Jonah with children. They were missing in the affluent neighborhoods she had lived was a work in progress. He was terrified in previously. “Children bring life and at the idea of someone with scissors fun with them and I know I need them near his face, so his thick dark hair was allowed grow until he resembled a 3 around to be happy.” year old version of Fabio as a brunette. The day his parents Australia decided he was ready for the big hair cut, was a major turning point in his young life. He had been a shy deferential boy. But he came home that day truly pleased with what a with Royree Jensen & Katherine Ruonala handsome guy River of Life Centre, Slacks Creek QLD her actually was. Registration: www.himaustralia.org.au The typical Both men and women are encouraged to attend. routine of “God fashioned women everyone was to reign alongside men. that as the family Jesus set women fr free to be beautiful and passed Ruth’s powerful. It’s time for door, which was us, as daughters and sons of the king, to rule typically open together behind the screen to allow the cool ocean breeze in, they would call out a greeting as Pennsylvania” seemed foreboding to her. Something about barriers and the great unknown on the other side worried her. To alleviate the discomfort, Ruth would laugh mischievously, gun the motor and rush over the state lines. Examples like these showed Ruth’s daughters not to be afraid. Bad things happen to all of us but they don’t stop us. Life can be enjoyed.
Fashioned to 20-22
28 Christian Woman Autumn 2014
they headed for their own apartment. But since the haircut Jonah would stand there trying to look casual waiting for someone to tell him how handsome he looked. His smile told her, “I know, I just wondered if you noticed.” During my time there a new baby came into the family and the teenaged son moved on. The big brother took with him the secrets he and Ruth had shared. Ruth kept them too. The neighbors could only suspect the true friend she had been to all of them. Their Mom tells me that the baby kept waving at the screen door as they family passed by and calling out “Hi” to Ruth. The rest of the family, knowing that Ruth wasn’t there anymore had ceased the habit, but the baby kept looking for her. Leading up to this time leaving the apartment became a problem for Ruth. She wasn’t always able to navigate the steps leading to her place. This was when she decided to plan the special trip to our local toy store with Nueva and Jonah. It turned out to be a day when her legs refused to function so she asked me to take the kids for her. Just like Ruth’s older sister (the smart one) had taught her, I was told to tell the kids they could pick out the one toy they most wanted to play with. That day Nueva picked out a beautiful tea service that came in a nice picnic basket lined with pink gingham cotton. Jonah’s selection was a large book with an audio CD. He was on the verge of reading now. Being able to read without any help pleased him greatly. Ruth was making sure the kids got a special gift from her. She sensed the opportunity would not present itself much longer. Primarily her own three daughters, her granddaughters, but also a former son in law, and a few of the local divas from the local art scene were the ones to live in the give and take of Ruth’s heart. Sharing the ups and downs of life realistically was something that was a universal experience for everyone in this circle. It was real life and real love. One day as I was getting the mail I ran into the neighbors and the family asked about Ruth. Jonah was staring at me waiting to hear my answer. I told them it wasn’t a good day for her, then looking at Jonah I said “maybe a hug from you would make it better.” Later
I saw the little guy standing outside the screen door waiting to be acknowledged. When he was invited in, he marched over quietly without saying a word, climbed up onto her lap and cuddled with her while the dark cloud over Ruth lifted. After a few minutes, he climbed down and nodded to her. It seemed to indicate, “I have done my job now, glad to see you are going to be okay.” But he never actually said a word. Seeing the two of them silently giving and receiving love is a picture that will remain with me. Lesson 3 The Reward of Getting Over Yourself Ruth’s daughters were coming for a visit. We had to get everything ready. She had me dig through her cedar chest and get out photos that they may have wanted to take home. These photo albums and other mementos were placed around the room for the visit. One of the books had professional photos of Ruth modeling coats in New York in the 1950’s. “Wow” I exclaimed,” you never told me about this.” “Yeah. I did that for a while” Ruth remarked. “High heels were always a problem for me so my opportunities were limited.” That was the beginning and the end of that subject. For most people being a model in New York would be an often recalled story. But not with Ruth, she remained an original. In the days to come he daughters arrived with their daughters and her son in law. The former son in law joined in and everyone got the precious opportunity to enjoy each other, probably for the last time. We agreed that some safety measures needed to be taken. Ruth’s medications needed to be carefully dispensed in order to avoid confusion. They needed to be hidden and only offered when she was supposed to take them. The problem was how and where could I hide them so the relief caregivers could find them and they would be out of view. A phone call came from Pam, a former care-giver and friend who had substituted for me while I went on vacation. She wanted to come say hello to Ruth. The problem could now be solved. While they visited, I could find a place to stash the meds. Misery was in the air as Pam entered
the room. Ruth’s mood was at a low point. She was sitting in her chair on the verge of tears. As they began to talk, I took the pills into the bathroom. Under the sink at the back of the cabinet would be the perfect hiding place. She couldn’t get down there or see them and I could access them without her knowing. I could hear Pam telling Ruth that she didn’t have to be so unhappy because God loved her. That the Bible in the gospel of John 1:12 tells us ”Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”. As I went into the hall closet to retrieve the rest of the medications from the old hiding place, I heard Pam telling Ruth that we don’t experience this fullness of life is because as it tells us in Romans 3:23 “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But, she continued, the answer to that is found in john 14:6 where Jesus tells us, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” She was facing Ruth holding her hands and asked her if she would like to open her heart to Jesus and pray with her. A shocked Ruth loudly responded, “I can’t believe in Jesus, I’m Jewish!” A conversation that had been going so well jarred Pam who said, “Ruth, Jesus loves everybody”. Ruth argued, “but I’m Jewish I can’t believe in Jesus.” Walking into the room I laughed and commented that “Jesus Christ was actually Jewish himself.” Pam happily continued, “That’s right our Messiah Jesus Christ was born into a Jewish family, he was a Jew.” That was enough for Ruth she did want to pray with Pam and meet the Messiah. A few days later when I got to work, Ruth was still in bed. She was too weak to get up but was eager to tell me something. She wanted me to know about a dream she had the night before. “You’re going to think I am crazy,” she started, then she went into detail telling me about her dream. “I went up to heaven and was in the presence of God. “I saw that He ls love, and that there is a perfect, wonderful joyous celebration going on up there.” She continued, “I was sorry to come back, but now I do not want to be the same bitter person, I have
to forgive and the first person I have to make things right with is my son in law” she told me with determination. “Well Ruth, I have some family I have to forgive too, so I will pray with you and together we can ask for His help.” She agreed that I did need to forgive as well, “yes you do” she replied pointedly looking me in the eyes. So I knelt by her bed and we prayed together. Laying there and looking up at the ceiling, she opened by praying out loud, “Lord I love you” then I joined her and together we asked for His grace and help. In a few weeks her daughter and sonin-law were there again and Ruth and Doug got to have a private visit where things were set right. When Doug left I noticed that his eyes were moist. Later he asked me if I thought the new meds were the cause of the change in Ruth. The miracle wasn’t the medication. The blessed physician had healed Ruth’s soul. Now here I am in the middle of another clear, warm, beautiful day at the beach in Southern California. It is a little disorienting as it could be any time of the year. I find myself remembering the remarkable events and people that came into my life over the past few years. As I reflect on all that happened during this time, I don’t want the story of Ruth to end. The lessons I learned from Ruth about bravely facing life’s losses and refusing to live as a victim is something I was privileged to see first-hand and that will stay with me. Enjoying the people around me for who they are and not just how they please me or how they can benefit me is another lesson to hang onto. Finally, living unencumbered with ego and preconceived notions, but rather with an open heart and mind is the best way to face life and I am glad to have seen that up close as well. CW
Barbara Clingwald is a freelance writer residing in the USA
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National Day of This coming May 31st is the National Day of Thanksgiving. ANNETTE SPURR encourages us to reach beyond the fence line and see the Mission field right in our very own street!
It’s a gorgeous Sunday afternoon; the air is warm, wispy clouds caress the blue sky and the grass is soft under our feet. Sinking into camp chairs in our neighbour’s backyard, we wait for the show to start. I look around at these people who are some of my closest friends, in more ways than one. When we first met, we shared one thing in common – our street name. But over time, we’ve become so much more than just neighbours. We’re friends. When my nearly 1 year old, Jack, plunged 2 ½ metres off a ledge, Jenni 30 Christian Woman Autumn 2014
next door heard my screams and, stomping out her cigarette, she called out: ‘I’m coming in the ambulance with you.’ When I accidentally ran over our beloved cocker spaniel, Buckley, all our neighbours came running out and helped me load him into Jodie’s car (who lives across the road) so she could drive me to the vet. Over the years, we’ve held each other’s new born babies and watched our kids grow up together as we chatted over the fence about life and faith. They say your true character is who
you are when you think no one’s looking. What I’ve realised is that in my darkest moments, my neighbours have watched on and supported me. My neighbours have watched me contend with toddler tantrums, time outs, tummy bugs and tough times. They’ve seen us drive to church every Sunday and live out our faith (not always successfully). My neighbours have been there for me in my darkest moments. When Jodie said to me: ‘Gee, your God was tough on you last year,’ I had to smile. It was a tough year but my faith, family, friends and of course, my neighbours, carried me through. Now, back to that gorgeous Sunday afternoon… the uplifting music of ‘Avici’ fills the air and our kids are dancing on the lawn in front of us. I’m overwhelmed by a bitter-sweet feeling. Mick & Jenni, Wayne & Jodie are moving. This will be one of our last gettogethers as neighbours but we’ll always be friends. They’re moving on to new beginnings and we’re left behind, hoping that when we look over the fence, there’ll be new, friendly faces there. Hoping we’ve left an indelible taste of heaven in each of their hearts. Through the laughter and the tears, the kids screaming and dogs barking, we forged friendships and we were ’there’ for each other. I love this quote: ‘In my Father’s house are many rooms… I hope mine is next to yours.’ I would love to look over the fence in my heavenly home and see them waving back at me from their balconies. The National Day of Thanksgiving is on Saturday 31st May and this year, the focus is on saying ‘thanks’ to our neighbours. They’re the ones who can be there, literally a footstep away, when you need them and the ones who see who you really are when you think no one’s looking. Can I encourage you to say ‘thanks’ to your neighbours this National Day of Thanksgiving. Make your neighbourhood your mission field and take up the challenge to live out your faith for them every day. That’s when good neighbours become good friends. CW
Ps Tim Edwards
David Stanfield “David believes that “Free people free people” and passionately encourages ordinary men and women to get out of their boxes; to radically and joyfully find God’s purpose for themselves, to become all that God ordained them to be and to shift the spiritual atmosphere that surrounds them.”
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Published on Mar 18, 2014
In this issue: Innocent or Guilty - God's view of Justice; Freedom Fighters, Lessons Learned from the Book of Ruth; Veil of Tears - young gi...