Hands of Honor Update
[Hands of Honor was one of the National Missions Projects we supported in 2017-2018. Read an update about the ministry below]
In the early years of Hands of Honor, a ministry for young female child laborers in West Africa, I was often frustrated how the women in the Christian community didn’t see the realities these girls faced as injustice. They seemed to lack compassion and often were harsh and judgmental in their response to these girls who made poor choices and now lived with the consequences.
My teammate and I tried to address the harshness in culturally appropriate ways, but we realized it was best to focus on modeling how to love and care for the girls that came through our doors.
You can imagine my joy when debriefing recently with our Christian staff about last year’s program, I realized cultural blinders had slowly been removed and these women were now seeing our girls through the eyes of Jesus.
I asked that they share some of the more challenging scenarios they’d dealt with over the past year. As they took turns sharing, there were tears as they told particularly difficult situations in the girls’ lives. There were stories of runaways but how they helped them reconnect with their worried families. There were stories of girls who became pregnant and quit coming to class, but they sought them out not to shame them but to offer help.
At one point, our staff became quite vocal and heated as they began to discuss how they needed to be more proactive with parents about discouraging child marriages. I honestly felt as if I was sitting in a room full of mama bears defending and protecting their cubs! My heart was stirred to see the deep compassion they felt for these girls that were entrusted into their care.
For many of the girls that come to us, these staff members are some of the first to ever express concern or defend them against injustice. Often, these women are also the first Christ-followers they’ve ever met. It’s been amazing to see hearts respond to the gospel as the girls are introduced to Jesus through storying through the Bible and tangibly seeing His love in action.
Eve was one of two girls this past year in Hands of Honor who made the bold decision to leave their majority religion and become a follower of Jesus. Remarkably, she received permission from her employer to begin attending a local Alliance church. She’s grown in her new faith but still faces a difficult road ahead. Recently, her father called her to come home as he’d arranged a marriage for her. Pray for God to intervene and give boldness to our staff as they interact with her parents to persuade them to allow her a different option for her future.
God has raised up these incredible women and has given them eyes to see and hearts to respond to the hurts and needs of the vulnerable in their own communities. Are you willing to do the same? May God continue to use His people to see lives transformed from the inside out!