South Sudanese women — change agents, not victims!

On March 21, twelve women leaders in the AIC South Sudan Women’s Ministry met in the office of their director Mama Paula before leaving for the airport. They were on their way to a women’s leadership conference in Nairobi, Kenya. The AIC-South Sudan Bishop and several pastors encouraged the women and prayed for them. For most of the women, this was their first time to travel far, leaving family home.

They reached Nairobi that evening, and were welcomed by the administrative assistant of our partner ministry MKM. MKM ministers in northeast Kenya and many regions beyond, and has an office/guest house in Nairobi where the conference was hosted. They were joined by several others, including South Sudanese women who are in exile in Nairobi. Partners International and the ministry Women in the Window led by Kim Kerr jointly sponsored the conference.

  • The first session the speaker started by asking, “Who is a good Leader?” A good leader can influence people in a good direction. They need to know God Phil. 2:5-8, grow in faith, be humble and a servant leader. We studied about women in the Bible including Naomi and Ruth. Jackie, a participant from another ministry in Kenya, shared the following:

“The question of widowhood intensified as we studied the biblical character of Naomi, a widow whose husband and two sons died in Moab, where they sought refuge from famine…. The widows from South Sudan identified with Naomi’s needs and strengths….

“The South Sudanese women and our teachers deepened my vision for a center for widows and children. They transformed my image of widowhood from victims to change-makers…. They also taught me to be strong and courageous amidst all situations; to trust in God because everything can change but God cannot.

“While a tangible weight of pain filled the conference room with every difficult question, grief did not consume these women’s vision for themselves and their communities…. I look forward to joining hands with my South Sudanese mothers in our common work. I have much to learn on organizing and equipping widows for effective leadership, but I am confident the resourceful relationships I have formed through this conference will be part of my journey. . . . There was no better place to spend those four days of my life.”

  • One of the sessions linked the Word of God with Agri-business. We agreed we should not be beggars, but rather work to earn our own living and be good planners and managers. The women shared tips for success in agriculture such as “Make a budget,” “Select good seeds,” and “Look for a good person to work with.”
  • The last session was about Trauma healing. Trauma was defined as a situation causing depression or sense of loss. It is caused not only by war but also child abuse, rape, accidents, sudden death, bad news, insecurity, economic crisis, etc. It is only God who can treat these. Remember, God has a plan for us.

How to help traumatized people:

  1. Visit, counsel, encourage, and pray with them
  2. Listen carefully to their problem
  3. Read God’s Word to them
  4. Provide material needs
  5. Share stories and feel the pain with them

The women found the conference to be of great benefit. It not only provided knowledge but also renewed the faith of every participant. It was a precious time of togetherness for these women to share in each other’s experiences. The change of environment was as delicious food given to an orphan. Friendships were made with the Kenyans and the South Sudanese who are in exile there. We are grateful to Women in the Window and Partners International for making this conference possible.

 

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