Mothers Mobilizing Pastors in Africa — and Beyond
By Mommy Emily
The sun is unforgiving as I wait for my friend here in rural Alberta, Canada, seated on a blue bench in a school park across from the church. A tractor rumbles somewhere in the distance, and the earth seems embarrassed under the unrelenting stare of the afternoon light.
I glance up at the steeple of one of the three Reformed churches in this farming hamlet and wonder, Why us, Lord? Are we even supposed to be doing this? Oh Lord, help —
And just then my friend pulls up in her minivan, the kids pile out to play, and we stumble over a prayer before heading into the church.
This is the fourth pastor I’ve met with, the final church, and I am shaky. We take the stairs to the basement and find him in his office. He jumps up to greet us, smiles, and we’re instantly at ease as we sit and begin to talk about the reason we’ve come — Unity.
What does unity look like amongst the body of Christ, we wonder? And is it possible in a community that’s been struggling through not just one, but two church splits in the past two generations?
It’s a conversation The Lulu Tree is having right now too, we mothers on the board of Lulu, alongside our pastor-friends across the ocean. We meet regularly over Zoom and we pray together across the miles, missing the tangible presence of the other, longing to smell the jasmine blossoms on the trees, to see monkeys scampering across the red roads, to drink sweet African milk tea, to clap with churches under tin roofs. We resonate with Paul and his anguish in 1 Thessalonians —
“But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face…”
But meanwhile, the Spirit is unhindered by distance, and weaving an even greater unity amongst us, through the Body of Jesus Christ, and as we pray, through the months of July and August, God has begun to reveal something… That He not only is using us, as mothers here, on this side of the ocean, to equip and encourage pastors, but He is also going to use the teenage mothers in Uganda to do the same. The very same girls who’ve been scorned by society, who’ve been abandoned by family and abused by their teachers and classmates — it is these women of God that He wants to use to mobilize the pastors, and the church at large, in Uganda.
Meanwhile, here, in my Canadian hometown, I’m seated across from a local pastor, and he pulls out his Bible, turns to Ephesians 2, and we read about Jesus coming to destroy the dividing wall of hostility between us.
Then he turns to us and thanks us, because as mothers, we’re leading the pastors, reminding them of what matters.
“We lose sight of these things,” he says. “We get too concerned about semantics and meanwhile, you are living out the gospel — gathering together as women from different congregations, studying the Word together, praying together, your kids playing together — you are showing us what matters.”
We’re quiet, grateful, thinking of how the Spirit led us to start a prayer group for mothers from both Christian schools a few years ago, and how that led to an interdenominational Bible Study for women from all three churches.
And in Uganda, too, when we visit the teenage mothers, we find Christ there amongst them — in how they do laundry together, feed one another’s children, study together, pray together, eat posho and beans together, laugh and cry together.
They do life together, as it says in 1 Thessalonians 2 — “Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”
We bow to pray together now in the gentle Albertan light, a pan of seascape paintings on the wall, blue carpet beneath our feet, as though we’re being baptized into something ancient and new, and suddenly tears come to my friend’s eyes and she can’t finish her prayer. She’s just mentioned the men in the community. She’s trying to pray for the fathers in our farming hamlet, but she’s too choked up, and doesn’t know why. Soon it becomes clear.
God is not just doing this for the pastors. God is crying out for the men of this community — and not just of this community, but of the world. He’s using the mothers to nudge, because it’s time for the fathers to rise. It’s time for them to become giants in the faith, in prayer, in fellowship, in love. God is raising up an army of men, and He’s using women to do it.
And even as our brothers in Uganda, Apostles Enock and Shaban, prepare to move out to the villages to give their lives to serving the poor, beginning with the teenage mothers, and extending to villages far beyond — (for in fact, the Lord has raised up funds for us to reach 98 villages with both an audio recorder for Biblical training, and a micro-subsidy for the pastor of each village!) — we implore you to pray along with us. As mothers, for the fathers of our nations and our world.
We say goodbye, walk back out into the glaring sun, pick up tired children, and head home. We are at peace, knowing that like these sticky-fingered precious little ones in our arms, God is giving birth to something uncontrollable and beautiful. Something bigger than we ever dreamed of.
As the pastor read to us from Ephesians 3:20-21 before we left, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever! Amen.”