Shepherding in Malawi
People decry the internet... and indeed many things on the internet are abhorrent. However, during this pandemic, the internet has literally been a God-send for many. A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Moses Njobvu, a pastor with Abundant Life Ministries in Malawi. He was looking for someone to partner with his ministry. How he found me was indeed a plan of God's set in motion many years ago! But that's a story for another time!
Last Monday, I began a series of trainings on Domestic Violence with the Abundant Life Ministries community via Zoom. The session began with a rousing and spectacularly-beautiful singing of hymns by the women - no instruments, just their exquisite voices. Prayers preceded our one hour training in which I learned from them as much as they learned from me - if not more.
Two things were profoundly evident:
1. Women throughout the world, regardless of race, creed, language, religion, socio-economic, and educational level suffer from abuse by men who appear to have all read the same "How to Abuse" manual.
2. Domestic Violence in Malawi is at the same time an entirely different beast.
In a room of twenty women of various ages, ALL had experienced domestic violence. Some women were courageous enough to tell of their experiences:
- a husband who gets drunk on alcohol he has bought with the little money they have, forcing his wife and children to go to her home village until he sobers up and is safe to be around
- a husband who beats his wife if she touches something he told her not to
- a husband who tells his wife he is going to another country to get work - and instead marries another woman and never comes back
- a husband who tells his wife to go to the city for a job he has found her. She arrives to find no such job exists and she has to make her way home again.
The stories are different and yet the same. When I detailed a typical abusive man and a typical abused wife, the heads nodded with a visceral understanding. The desperation and yet resolve in the women's voices when they ask "What can we do? How can we get away? How can we make this change?" is the same emotion experienced by women around the world. Then I realised the "advantages" we have here - if we are being abused we have police we can go to, shelters that will take us in, economic supports, doctors, lawyers....They have literally nothing and next to nowhere to go.
So what can I do from half way around the world, as a white woman of profound privilege?
The last thing I want to do his to fill their heads with Western solutions to the problems. I know nothing about their reality but I want to know and I want to help. I am focusing my training, therefore on basic EDUCATION in Domestic Violence - the Violence Wheel, the Cycle of Abuse, and the symptoms of Domestic Violence. I have educated them on avoiding potentially abusive relationships and we are working on brainstorming together how these women can go out into their communities and educate not just other women but men and the tribal chiefs who are the law in the villages. I want to work with the RELATIONSHIPS these women already have with each other and with the women in their villages. I want to develop a relationship of trust between me and them and I want it all to be grounded in our relationships with Jesus - our ultimate Husband, Savior, and Leader.
God has called us to live in community. Where two or more are gathered in His Name, He is there with us. God's presence was palpable during these community trainings which started and ended with heartfelt praising and worshiping of their Creator. God's presence was evident in the heart of these women as they supported, listened, and encouraged the brave souls who stood up and shared their stories. I feel honored to join that community to add my two cents, to help educate them and empower them with what knowledge God has given me in my journey. Many friends and family members have also become part of that community in the past week, offering to volunteer, offering up resources, liking and following the page and finally, donating money to the Go Fund Me Campaign I set up. This campaign will help to fund the internet connection for our ZOOM trainings.
This is just the beginning and I thank you for joining us in our journey.
In His Name and for His Glory,
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