As I sat down to write my first blog post for Women’s History Month, I heard the devastating news that a wild, uncontainable fire was ripping through our beloved city of Cape Town. From the veranda of our house, we could see the flames burning like molten lava some seventy kilometers away. My heart just broke. For five consecutive days, evacuations took place, animals were hurt, and people lost their lives and homes. All the while, firefighters, men and women, never gave up. They worked shifts that stretched over thirty hours. They refused to go home; they refused to give up even while five thousand hectares (12,355 acres) of land lay burning. They saved lives and homes, rescued animals, and gave the people of Cape Town hope.
The outpouring of heroic love left tears in the eyes of South Africans. People did not stop bringing food. Businesses, shop owners, community organizations and individuals from miles away gave unconditionally. The word hero took on a whole new meaning in the midst of this tragedy. We looked into the exhausted faces of men and women and saw heroes in those who worked endlessly through emotion and fatigue to bring life to dead ground.
In December last year, I received a gentle vision from God. It started with a picture and ended with the voice of God telling me to embark on a mission—a mission to encourage women around the world to tell their stories. I saw a picture of the ocean and in the midst of it, an open window. Torrents of water were pouring through it into a place that was starved of water, on to charred, dead ground. I knew then that I had to mobilize women to share their stories in a book. So, I started a journey—to embolden my sisters to share their heart’s most vulnerable moments with strangers. Some were nervous and others were excited about the project. Through it all, I continued to ask God, what is all of this for?
As the stories started “pouring in,” I smelled the burned ground that my sisters had walked on. I sensed the oppression and devastation of being beaten and broken by a husband. I saw the embers of homelessness and the hardness of life. I felt the still smoldering reality of being sold as a child bride. I heard the wounded cries of an orphan child found in a cotton-wool laden box, unwanted and unloved. In the midst of the burned ground of my sisters’ stories, I saw the landscape change when Christ entered the scene. Each one of my sisters encountered the hero of their stories, the greatest firefighter, the ultimate buffer between death and our redeeming life. They met the one who purchased their life, whose blood stretched across the door and commanded the fire of death to leave. Each story is a hero’s story of a woman who never gave up, a woman who walked with nothing across the burned ground of tragedy until she found the arms of the one who rescued her and clothed her in his sacrifice. These stories are redemption stories. Beauty from ashes.
This is the heart behind my book, Windows across Oceans. The book weaves together women’s testimonies across four continents and numerous countries. It features exclusive stories, artwork, and poems in three different languages. The project is meant to be a source of encouragement for women as well as means of practical help. All of the funds received from book sales will be donated to two organizations: All Girls Allowed, an organization that fights gendercide in China and Open Doors, a women’s literacy program in India.
This week, the Cape Town fires left the once beautiful Southern Peninsula resembling a war zone. As I prayed for the crisis, God told me that in every burned place in his children, he wants to give back. I wondered how. Then, I heard the story of a woman who was evacuated from her home along with three hundred people.
The woman is a music teacher. Somehow, she saved some of her priceless pianos during the evacuation. After the rescue, three hundred people stood on a sports field wondering in despair if their homes and memories would be ravaged by the flames. This music teacher sat down at one of her valuable pianos and began to play the most beautiful melodies from memory to soothe the hearts of the people devastated by loss. The music teacher’s hope is the same truth found in the stories of women in Windows across Oceans.
We are playing our instruments in the far flung corners of our lives. Together, we have made a symphony of redemption. We are an orchestra who believes that God can undo the burned ground of injustice, inequality, oppression, and devastation. Jesus can heal what is broken; he can find what is lost. He can create from the dust and he can cause burned ground to flourish and become new. Where we see devastation from gendercide, in human trafficking, and in domestic violence, Christ is there. He is the window that pours living water out on to those places. The stories of women in my book are the stories of heroes—heroes of persistent strength who called upon Jesus in faith and clung to him when they could see only devastation. It is here within these moments of deepest need that he comes triumphantly in to bring life to dead ground.
Please join us and support us by purchasing a copy of our heart-stories.