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A Painful Issue

by Joanne Nystrom Janssen | December 05, 2002

This has been a painful issue of Mutuality. We have known that biblical equality isn’t just a crucial topic for the United States — but it’s also sorely needed around the world. We had a vision of exploring this concept, as well as honoring the dedication of those who work to communicate the message of equality internationally, often with additional cultural, political or religious challenges.

We thought we might address some of the most publicized global issues affecting women, such as poverty, female genital mutilation and dowry killings. Instead we discovered a list that was chilling in its length: lack of education, lack of medical care, sex slavery and trafficking, female infanticide, the AIDS crisis in Africa, honor killings, a low value in Hindu and fundamental Muslim societies, abuse, and poor working conditions.

This reality weighed heavily on writer Shari M. Kelly, author of “The Worldwide Suffering of Women.” A few weeks before her article was due, she wrote in an e-mail: “Every time I do some research, read past articles or otherwise try to work on this assignment, I either start crying or get that horrible heaviness in your chest that you get when you’re not crying but should be.”

The reality is overwhelming: women are suffering appalling abuses and tragic deaths around the world. But we don’t want to avoid this truth because it’s uncomfortable; noticing and identifying with this pain is important for Christians, says Mimi Haddad in her article “Feeling Pain in the Body of Christ.”

At the same time, we aim to counter this bleak picture with some authentic hope. In this issue you will have a chance to learn about people like Dr. Emily Obwaka, who empowers African women through evangelism, discipleship and education, and several international members of CBE, who share biblical equality in their own communities. The steady and unyielding work of these brothers and sisters is an encouragement, reminding us of God’s grace and presence in the midst of even the most difficult situations.

Looking at the plight of women around the world has only emphasized the necessity of spreading biblical equality to new audiences. CBE has had some wonderful opportunities recently, including Soularize, a conference reaching emerging church leaders, and our marriage conference in Portland. We know these interactions can have a global impact. In fact, we’ve already heard from people who are now inspired to do more to reach Australia and South Africa.

A painful issue? Yes. But also an important one!