|4th Quarter 1997||Newsletter of the AD2000 & Beyond Movement Women's Track|
Male circumcision is grounded in the Old Testament. God required that every Jewish male be circumcised as a sign he belonged to God's covenant people. It had nothing to do with sexual prowess or purity. It did not hinder the male's ability to enjoy sex , to father a child, or to inhibit his normal bodily functions. Many medical authorities believe that beyond the religious connotation, circumcision has health and hygienic benefits.
When Rose (see article on page 2) tried to protect her daughter from female circumcision, she knew that in her Maasai culture this rite of passage was thought to make girls more desirable for marriage, and was considered a protection from sexual wrongdoing. But she also knew that this horrible practice could mutilate her daughter for life.
While the ritual is not sanctioned by religious leaders, it is practiced mainly by Muslims primarily in five countries: Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan and Kenya. An estimated two million girls undergo the procedure each year, and more than 100 million women live with its results.
The Link & Visitor, March, 1996
Judy Mbugua, chairperson of the AD2000 Women's Track and head of PACWA (Pan Africa Christian women's Association) is encouraging women across Africa to get involved in the eradication of this practice. They have produced education materials and a video which shows the disastrous effects of FGM.
Pray that will help Christian women to educate wisely and convince tribal leaders of the harm being done. Pray this evil practice will soon be stopped.
"I didn't realize that I lacked a passion for people!"
"I wasn't aware how vital prayer is for leading people to the Lord."
These were some of the responses of the more than 2500 women who attended the four regional seminars of the North American AD2000 Women's Track. They came away with a new passion for Jesus, and a renewed burden to reach out to those who have never heard.
The executive committee, led by Evelyn Christenson, well-known writer and author of the Study Guide for Evangelism Praying, planned the regional seminars for the summer and fall of 1997, to expand the vision and network of the AD2000 Women's Track. With the theme Simply Jesus, the seminars aimed to equip women with "a personal, workable plan for reaching people in their communities and sharing Jesus in a personal way."
In each seminar workshops aimed at mobilizing and inspiring women to share their faith through whatever doors God opens-whether it be the neighborhood, the inner city, to women in crisis or in the marketplace.
The women who attended the Inner City workshop in all four cities - Miami, Florida; Portland, Oregon; Grand Rapids, Michigan and Bakersfield, California-- were actually taken into the inner city by their leader, Helen Harris.
Helen knows the cost of bringing of her children in the drug-infested inner city and knows whereof she speaks. In each city, organizers contacted inner city churches to arrange a canvassing program and collected food and clothing to be distributed through the seminar delegates.
Many admitted it was a frightening experience-most had never been in the inner city before. In Miami 47 women visited a housing project, where local African-American churches prepared a barbecue and set up sound equipment for rousing music. One of the women was so impacted by the experience that she and her husband and daughter have returned for bi-weekly Bible studies with children.
In Grand Rapids twenty people accepted the Lord and will be followed up by the Mel Trotter Mission which co-sponsored the visit.
A rising corps of younger leaders planned and were responsible for the financial resources for each regional. Their gifts and creativity were obvious in the music, drama, colorful banners and pageantry that lifted the spirits of those attending. But there was also a precious spirit of appreciation and teachableness as they listened to senior women of God share from their heart and experience. The respect they showed their "spiritual mothers" like Evelyn Christenson, Kathryn Grant, Vonnette Bright and others is in stark contrast to society's general lack of appreciation for the contributions of the older generation.
Some of these young leaders are asking, "Are we ready to take the torch?"
While the North American AD2000 Women's Track is primarily focused on evangelizing North America, there is a growing realization that the unreached people have come to our doorstep. The city of Los Angeles, for example, has 147 languages represented in the school system. Sixty percent of all foreign graduate students in North America come from the 10/40 window. Lorry Lutz, the international coordinator of the AD2000 Women's Track, challenged the attendees to maintain a balance between focus on the lost at home and the unreached around the world.
With the momentum growing and the AD2000 vision becoming better known across North America, the stage is set for even greater impact at the Women's Track conference in Atlanta , Georgia, planned for May of 1998.
Though there was no Women's Track at GCOWE97 in South Africa, women were very much in evidence in all the consultations. PULSE correspondent Beverly Nickles wrote about the African Initiatives Track: "Recognizing that women are the 'most abundant resource of the African church,' they agreed women must be empowered to play significant roles"
More than 500 women attended a special banquet during GCOWE97 . Her Excellency, the Queen of Lesotho was one of the speakers, as well as Luis Bush, the international director of AD2000 & Beyond.. He emphasized that God was doing something new in the world, and that women were definitely part of the new thing.
A highlight of the banquet was the testimony of Rose Sakuda, a Maasai tribal women. A report written by AD2000 & Beyond correspondent follows:
Rose Sakuda stood Maasai-tall in her red tapestry robes and brilliantly<> colored beads. She spoke into the microphone on the sweeping stage before 500 women, as if she had done it a thousand times.
"The Lord lifted me from the dust to be a princess in His Kingdom," she began her address to the women gathered for a banquet at GCOWE97.
But this seemingly calm woman had never been out of Kenya before. In fact, before becoming involved with the Pan African Christian Women's Association (PACWA) she had never even left her own village. Now she travels to many Maasai villages to bring the gospel. But it has not been without a high personal cost.
Rose's husband is not a believer. He was intent on circumcising her four children, beginning with the eldest, a teen-aged daughter. But the circumcision process for females would mutilate her daughter for life, possibly infect her with AIDS, cause complications at childbirth, and make certain that she never undergoes sexual relations without pain. Rose sent her daughter to live with a Christian family where she would be safe.
Not to be outwitted, when Rose was away teaching in another village, her husband seized their second daughter, just twelve years old. With the help of an aunt, they took her to be circumcised.
In spite of such sorrows, Rose continues to encourage and lead women to Christ. She testified how women come together from long distances to a hidden place in the forest to pray, fast and listen to God's Word. " Because we are hard-pressed, we pray for everything - our chickens, our goats, our cows, our food, our husbands - and for water. We pray for PACWA and AD2000. " As a result of their prayers, many women and men have been saved.
Rose also teaches literacy classes to village women. During the dry season when women have to walk as far as 10 kms. (over six miles) to find water for their families, the women simply have no energy or time left to attend classes. (Imagine carrying a bucket of water on your head in the head for six miles!)
Rose is just one of the women PACWA aids. With this help, Rose can pay a herd boy to take her place watching cattle, so she can go out to teach women to read.
The women who listened to Rose's testimony saw in her a sister who had her priorities straight and was willing to take risks to serve God.
While many Christian leaders are downplaying the idea of reaching every person with the gospel by the year 2000, they believe that a church beachhead strong enough to multiply itself within the culture, can be established.
At GCOWE97, held in South Africa in July, the almost 4000 delegates pledged their commitment to this goal. Leaders of the AD2000 &Beyond Movement reported that extensive research revealed that all but 579 of the 1739 identified unreached people groups, known as the Joshua Project list, had been adopted for focused prayer and had some kind of church planting ministry. The original list was published in 1995.
Luis Bush, international director of the AD2000 & Beyond Movement says, "This in no way implies that these people have been reached or that the task is even close to being done among these people . . . the goal has been to see, at a minimum, a church planting . . . effort resulting in a life-giving church of at least 100 believers in one or more reproducing fellowships among every people on the Joshua Project list."
During the conference mission executives and leaders of the African national initiatives pledged to target 407 of the remaining groups and promised to go back to their organizations to ensure church planting programs are initiated.
If you've done your arithmetic you realize that 172 groups of people, 10,000 or more in population and less than 2% Christian have no one who cares enough to see that they hear about the love of Jesus. Contact your regional representative or to our office for the names of the people groups in your country.
Jesus encouraged women to learn and think - contrary to the expectations of Jewish society. People generally looked down upon women's intelligence and ability to reason. Philo, , a Greek philosopher and one of Paul's contemporaries said , "Woman is endowed by nature with little sense."
A Jewish rabbi wrote, "It is better for the words of the Torah (Jewish sacred wisdom literature) to be burned than for them to be given to a woman."
Yet as we read through the gospels, we find women listening and learning as Jesus taught. In her own home in Bethany, Mary sat at His feet as an eager student drinking in every word. When her sister complained to Jesus that Mary should rather be in the kitchen helping her, Jesus remonstrated, "Martha, Martha-Mary has chosen what is better [than preparing food?] and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41,42)
Obviously Martha had at other times listened to Jesus' teaching for at the time of Lazarus' death she discussed the resurrection with Jesus with a clear theological understanding of what it meant. In fact, when Jesus asked her if she believed that He was the resurrection and the life, her response rivals Peter's (Mt. 16:16) when she says, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who has come into this world." (John 11:27)
Over and over in the New Testament we see Jesus interacting in discussion with women, challenging them to think, answering their questions, drawing out the depths of their faith. He had a mental duel with a Canaanite woman, who was not even a Jew. Jesus spoke to her in a proverb saying, "It's not right to take bread from the children and feed it to the dogs." He was delighted at her perception when she responded, "But even the dogs eat the bread that fall from the table," and He healed her daughter.(Mt. 15:27)
If Jesus encouraged women to think, to discuss theology, and to wrestle with issues in a day when women were looked upon as inferior and mentally incapable, how much more does He expect us to learn and study today. Someone once said, "A woman's mind is a terrible thing to waste." What are you doing with that wonderful gift God has given you?
Ripple Effects of Cyprus Conference
Following the Women's Prayer Conference in Cyprus last April, reports are
trickling in of continued outreach. Prayer groups have been established in
many of the more than 20 countries represented at the conference. In
Kyrgyztan eight groups started in various parts of the country. Iqbal Massey,
the regional AD2000 Women's Track representative for the Middle East and CIS
countries has a set a goal of 5000 prayer groups in the region by the year
The AD2000 Women's Track committee in Manila has arranged a prayer and evangelism seminar in the province of Vaisayas in November. They held such a seminar in Manila for women from many churches, and denominations last year. Now they are repeating the outreach in a new area, with a team of women traveling to Vaisayas and taking care of the financial responsibilities,. As they did in Manila, the committee prepared a special program book including profiles of unreached people so that the women in Vaisayas can take this vision back to their own churches.
How far will this prayer "knit-work" spread? Southeast Asia contains some of
the major countries of the 10/40 window - Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia,
Malaysia, Laos - and the prayer and vision of these daughters of the King
could bring hope to many who live in darkness here.
Agnes Appiah works among the Agave people in the largely unevangelized northern part of Ghana. The Agave worship the Thunder-god and opposition to the gospel is strong. But Agnes has been able to show her love to these primitive, poverty-stricken people, and has planted nine churches among them.
The people recognize her compassionate heart. One night a sobbing mother came to her and thrust her dead infant into Agnes' arms. Agnes called a Christian nurse and the two prayed over the little one for several hours. At last the child sneezed. Relieved, Agnes and the child's mother made the long trek to the nearest hospital. The doctor gave them little hope for the desperately ill child, but Agnes insisted that every possible care be given. By the next day the child had radically improved.
No wonder people listen when Agnes tells them of the God of love who cares for them and their families. Ministry Highlights, Partners International