Have you ever had the experience of trying SO HARD to reach a goal and finding the door absolutely closed? And then, because God moves in, another door suddenly opens and the goal is achieved?
Community change is often hard to attain. Let me tell you a sad story of a closed door. But it has a happy ending.
In one of the tough corners of South Asia, several villages were using CHE very effectively. The Holy Spirit was moving local people to achieve dramatic changes as they learned new things. Sanitation was better. New businesses were thriving. And the love of Jesus was spreading.
However, in surrounding villages, the leading men listened to these reports, but could not be convinced to try change. They said, “We know things are not very good, but this is the way things have always been here.” For nine years, these men were not interested in change.
Our CHE team leader in these CHE villages is a woman I will call Shakira, since I can’t use her real name. She and her team prayed fervently for open doors into the surrounding villages, but nothing happened. In frustration she wondered if she would have better results if she were a man. Then there came an “Aha” from the Lord: perhaps being a woman was actually the perfect entry point for these resistant villages.
MAI trained Shakira in our women’s program called Women’s Cycle of Life (WCL). WCL lessons address issues faced by women all over the world: How can women feel any self-worth when their society believes men are far more important? (In some places even the cows have greater value!) How can women take good care of their children when their husbands pay no attention to the needs of their families?
Shakira’s WCL training revealed how God valued women in the Bible. It showed how theyfound success in male-dominated societies, because God loved them and empowered them.
In addition, there were lessons about:
- understanding one’s body and the wonder of childbearing
- dealing with complications in pregnancy
- developing confidence as a daughter of the King
- being a godly wife who respects and honors her husband
The WCL training taught women to help their husbands by cooking better food and by keeping themselves, their homes, and their children clean. Lessons on parenting advised a listening ear and a soft answer as opposed to screaming at one’s children. The training even showed women how to start a small business that could improve family finances.
When Shakira went back to the same villages that had resisted change for nine years, she tried to see if women might be interested in change though their husbands had not been. This time God opened a door and the women were willing to listen. They asked their husbands, who reluctantly gave them permission to be trained by Shakira and her team.
I am sure you can guess what happened. Women who had been beaten down (often literally) began to change in ways that were unmistakable. Men came home to nutritious meals, to a cleaner home, and were treated with more respect by their wives and their children. The pleasure of the men expanded when these positive changes continued and grew.
This pleasure completely changed these men’s attitudes to the changes that Community Health Evangelism could offer. Suddenly every village that had started WCL wanted to start a full-fledged, community-owned CHE program.
Of course, they don’t call it CHE there because “evangelism” is unacceptable in this part of the world. Instead, trainers teach “moral value lessons” that tell about the love of Jesus from stories in “one of the Holy Books.” When asked more about who Jesus is, these trainers have joyfully led a number of villagers to know him personally.
The story of change in this place is just beginning, but MAI is praising God because he is breaking through barriers that seemed unbreakable.
With such an effective tool for opening doors for Community Health Evangelism, you may ask, “Why is this not part of every plan for entering new communities?”
We simply do not have enough women like Shakira. Many of our key experienced leaders are men. In most cultures, men are not the right people to lead training directed primarily to women. MAI is trying to add women as WCL master trainers whenever the right person is available, but often a lack of resources hinders our ability to hire them.
Would you like to be a part of God’s solution to that lack? We both understand that I cannot lay claim to your time, energy, or money, because you are God’s steward, not mine. Therefore, I am praying fervently that God will prompt you to get involved. It’s a marvelous opportunity!
How can you get involved?
- You can learn about Women’s Cycle of Life training. Go to www.medicalambassadors.org.
- You can pray and spread the word about this opportunity to everyone you know, and ask them to do the same.
- You can give generously to make this hope a reality.
Please pray; ask God how he wants you to get involved. I will be excited to find out what God says as you listen. The enclosed response card will give you some specific ideas. I have never found a greater source of joy than saying “Yes” to Jesus.
God bless you,
John Payne M.D.
P.S. Some of you have asked for news of the Ebola crisis. Liberia is nearly free of it, though Gambia and Sierra Leone continue to see new cases. CHE has been instrumental in teaching communities the transmission and prevention of Ebola and has been greatly appreciated by local health departments.
John, opening doors through WCL inspires me!
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We appreciate your prayer and financial support. Without you as a member of the team, this ministry would not be possible.