I don't really yet have words to process all that God did at the fourth annual Influence Conference and I cannot believe that was almost two weeks ago already! I got back home last Sunday and I think it's honestly taken me till today to start to find my feet and my energy and give my heart some bearings to process and pray through the fruit He brought.
But! I wanted to pop in and share one part of Influence that has me still really excited and hopeful. And to share that, I need to step back a few months.
A number of months ago, a couple began going to our church that I have known about for a long time, without really understanding the scope of all that God was doing through them. I'd hear about Jerry and Sharon and their ministry efforts in South East Asia on occasion, but it wasn't until the first time we really sat down and had dinner with them that I heard the passion and conviction behind what they were doing.
They minister directly to church plants in a country they're not able to name due to persecution and Sharon had dreams of really growing their ability to minister to the women in this location as well. Over the months I heard more about their emerging ministry, Shama Women, an organization that would enable American women to sponsor women in this far away country. Providing them training, dignity through work, spiritual encouragement, and a safe haven from persecution and sex trafficking.
I could share so much more here, but I'll let Shama's website do the talking. The main reason I wanted to share this on my blog is because of something God put on my heart at Influence as we shared the mission of Shama with those beautiful women.
If you're anything like me, the news can be pretty devastating these days. We see all that is wrong with our own cities, communities, and country. And we're also bombarded by the pain and unimaginable issues everywhere else in the world. Our sisters (and brothers!) in Syria are struggling. The orphan epidemic is staggering outside the U.S. and the foster care crisis threatens us here. We could go country by country and name issue after issue and it can be almost too much to fathom, but I believe our Father would rather us not turn away.
For me, Shama Women has provided a way that I can do something to help in an absolutely no brainer way. It's $10 a month to pay for a portion of a women's training and $40 a month to cover her entire training. If you showed me a girl in the U.S. and told me $40 a month would provide her dignity, safety, a chance to repeatedly hear the gospel, a career, and a way out of hopelessness - I would have such a hard time turning away. I want to listen to that call and feel that tug for my sisters that I haven't ever met and might never meet, suffering in South East Asia.
There are so many things that we as American women have to pray about whether or not to get involved in. Should we lend our time to this ministry or that one? Should we volunteer here or not? Read this book or that one? But this to me - THIS feels like something we should almost move forward with and just ask God if for some reason He'd have us NOT do this. Most of us would never even miss $10 a month leaving our bank account. But with that money, a woman's life halfway across the world will be incredibly and richly blessed and the Kingdom of God will be shifted. That's not the case for everyone, but I do believe it's the case for lots of us.
I'll be talking more about Shama Women in the months to come, but would you do me a favor and look over their website today? Would you pray about whether or not God might have you partner with them? Would you pray for the women of South East Asia and ask if this is the way He might have you partner with your sisters who don't live here?
What HOPE and what encouragement we have to know that God IS moving and He IS healing and He is bringing light and life to heartache everywhere. And what a great privilege we have in being able to be involved in the healing on occasion, to get a sideline view and a $10 a month buy in to the restoration as it happens.