Constance – Africa

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I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Constance, of Africa. I met Constance when she and her pastor husband, hosted me in their home on my first teaching trip to Africa. Constance was a quiet woman of extraordinary character, the mother of four children–two still quite young–and the quintessential Proverbs 31 woman. I never once heard an unloving or harsh word from her lips, never heard gossip, or idle talk. She rose early to prepare our meals when I stayed with her family, polished all of our shoes, including mine, and was ready to serve long days as my translator. I was humbled by her godliness. Together we grew.

Serving as my translator, class after class, she began to show a gift for speaking to women and I began to turn over those classes to her as she felt more comfortable. Together we ministered to women in slums, as well as to the refugees in several UN Refugee Camps. She was again my translator on my second visit as well, where we visited the slums again and then spoke through the countryside. She herself has been invited to speak at area women’s conferences.

I have friends and sisters, but none more dear to me than those–whether of my natural father or my savior’s blood–who share my heart’s desire to pour God’s Word into women’s lives. From Constance, I have learned the quiet joy of serving my husband in no small part from my time with Constance, and perhaps from me she has learned the joy of teaching women. I think I received the greater gift.

In every rural, non-Western area where I have taught, I’m always welcomed with warm kindness, but quite a bit of doubt that a white woman from Houston could possibly understand the problems that they suffer of poverty, disease, death, famine, absent alcoholic husbands, adultery, violence and AIDS. In so many ways it IS impossible, but yet inevitably after the classes they ask me with astonishment, “How do you know how we are??”

What they mean of course is how do I know how their hearts hurt? The answer is that women’s hearts hurt the same all over the world, even when the circumstances are much, much different. It still breaks your heart when your husband is not fulfilling his role as loving protector, provider, and companion; it still devastates when there is adultery; it still crushes when a child dies. We all trust God as much as we dare, and no more, until we are so broken there is no other choice.

Yet, despite these similarities of the heart, God Empowered principles are not just an assurance of how similar we are. They are also a very specific application of biblical principles to “the messy realities of everyday life.” Those of you who have walked with me in this teaching for several years know they go deep into the heart of biblical truth applied to everyday life and there is no one more suited for taking women down that road than someone from their own culture. I thank God for Constance. The increasing Islamization of Africa is at hand.  Yet she and her husband are unafraid. They told me this week land has been donated for a church, there are requests for her husband to teach the pastors in the area and Constance has been received with joy by several church to serve as sort of an itinerant God Empowered Wife teacher to the women, going from church to church on a weekly basis.

Meanwhile, they will also continue spending 3-6 weeks each year on the pot-holed, muddy bush roads of their country each year working towards a goal that began five years ago: to personally take God’s Word to every student. None of these children have heard the Gospel before, and having joined them on one of these trips I can testify that tens upon tens of thousands of children have been reached and 65%-90% have received Christ. (They are also then connected to churches in their area for discipleship whenever possible.)

I personally joined them one year for a week and it was extraordinary to see the desire of these young students for the Truth. The amount of planning and logistics takes months, the dangers are both natural and human–and growing more so each year—but they persevere and trains other pastors to go with him. Constance speaks to the women, and her husband to the men each evening after speaking to the students. At the end of each long day, which begins at 6 AM and ends after 10 PM, they hold evening open-air meetings for the entire community. There they may share a Gospel movie (most have never seen a movie so it draws huge crowds from far distances) and preach the Gospel.  It makes for very long days, and it’s not unusual for them to suffer disease that requires medical attention for weeks when they return home.

I cannot wait to begin receiving her stories of lives God has changed—and share them with you here and I hope in the future to meet her God Empowered students in person one day.

Blessings,

Karen

 

 

 

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