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The Women of Haiti

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A woman passed me on the sidewalk with an entire table on her head. It looked like she had put everything she wanted for her journey onto a table, crawled underneath it, and then stood up. She moved down the street with her neck straight, her eyes forward, because carrying the burden takes focus. Nobody seemed to think she was remarkable.

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Little girls balance bags of rice, women twice my age carry full washtubs, men carry bananas in baskets. The movement of goods happens on the streets, resting just a head above us.

Everywhere we go, I have found the women of Haiti to have incredibly straight posture. They move with dignity and steadiness. Perhaps it’s because they have spent their lives achieving the balance required to transport their lives on their brow, and this is no metaphor. Blessed is the woman who carries the burden.

The women of Haiti are straightening my spine.

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A young woman stood at the pulpit at church. Beautiful in her white suit, she lead us in worship, singing strong like Exodus’ Miriam. No whispering, no false shyness, her back was straight, her face was forward, the microphone was on, and she sang the roof off that church. We followed behind her, straight into the throne room of God.

The front two rows were taken up with the women’s choir, all in black business suits. When they got up to sing, they moved easily through their steps, singing Hosanna for Palm Sunday. I sat in the wooden pew and tears filled my eyes. Erika leaned over to me and said, “I bet the angels wish they were here for this.” But I’m not convinced they weren’t there. Blessed are the women who sing.

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The rows of the school are filled with boys and girls. Together. Same classroom, same opportunity. The blue satin hair ribbons, one after another, crowded onto benches, just about laid me out on the dirt with their beauty and determination.

These girls are getting an education. These girls will be able to read a deed to make sure they aren’t getting swindled. Their backs are straight on those tiny benches. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” we ask. Nurses. Teachers, Singers. One dream after another. These girls will lift Haiti, I think.

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These two women cook for 150 children every single day. Think about that for a hot second. For many of the kids in Drouin, it’s their only meal of the day. The conditions are primitive to my eyes – water must be fetched and carried and then boiled before use. The tin cooking pots are four times the size of my kitchen sink. There is no light and no fan, just a cook stove and the women.

But those fresh beans and rice, straight off the stove and ladled into a tin plate were the best meal of the week. She grinned at me, her sinewy arms stirring, her headscarf a gleaming white. I thought of Proverbs 31 – she rises while it’s still dark to provide for her children, this virtuous woman. Blessed is the woman who provides for another woman’s child.

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Rosna grew up in a girls’ orphanage herself and then she went on to become a nurse. She got married and her husband planted a church in the same town where she grew up. And now she is the director of Ferrier Village. The first “family style” orphanage in the area, there are five homes filled with 26 children, all of them rescued from trafficking, under her care. Each home has a mother and four or five children. Their mother makes sure they are clean, they are fed, they sleep well, they are seen, known, loved here. Rosna is three years younger than me. Her back was straight, her floors were swept, her work is done well, and her children are healthy.

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When the children first arrive from their rescue, they are often malnourished, their black hair the colour of dried orange straw. But give Rosna a bit of time, because look – this rescued baby’s roots are coming in dark. She’s going to be well because Rosna is a high-capacity leader with hustle and peace for days. Blessed is the woman who leads.

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Wherever I go, children burrow into my mama-belly. It’s a bit soft, never recovered after those three babies in four years, but when I’m around children, I’m thankful for my softness. We mamas from the north, we stood around with their children in our arms, toddlers balanced on our hips. The sway of a mother’s axis crosses cultures, it seems. We met eyes over whiny toddlers who won’t cooperate and shrugged with a grin – we’ve all been there, we’re mothers.

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When we gathered around the women to express our thanks for the meal. “Thank you for cooking for us,” Amber said with a smile. “We have a lot of children and we’re mothers and nobody ever cooks for us!” They laughed and said they understood that.

One woman after another, sometimes in the background, sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes in the pulpit, sometimes in a home, sometimes singing a song, sometimes on the street with her stand of mangoes to sell, sometimes at the blackboard wearing a blue uniform, sometimes sitting in the classroom.

What a privilege to witness these women work.

What a privilege to talk in their kitchens, hold their babies, hear their stories.

What an honour to learn from their leadership.

Blessed are the women who remain unbowed.

 from the archives

***

It’s been a year since I was last in Haiti. I had plans of returning again this year but then along came little Maggie Love and so travel is at a stop right now. But in the meantime, the work continues – my presence certainly isn’t required by anyone – in Haiti.

Want to help?

You can be a child sponsor in Drouin whose kids are vulnerable to trafficking and or host for a Garage Sale for Orphans to build a preschool for children who have been rescued from trafficking.

And as always, pray for our sisters worldwide who are quietly doing the work.

 

All these photos were taken by Scott Wade and are used with permission.

Continue Reading · Haiti, social justice, women, work · 4

A call to pray for the persecuted church

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Today ISIS released a video depicting the horrific murders of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya.

Our brothers were beheaded, murdered for their faith. 

This is happening. Right now, all around the world, God forgive us for becoming numb.

The men were accused of being “People of the Cross” in the film: their indictment and their honour.

And according to Scripture, their blood is precious to our Saviour.

Overcomers, each of them. Read their names (via @spulliam)

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It feels small to pray, I know. But the prayers of the saints – whether offered in our safe places or in places of great risk and danger – are never small or ineffective or useless.

So if you would, please join me in prayer tonight?

However you pray, simply pray. Light a candle, read Scripture, sit in silence. Pray for the martyrs by name, pray for their families, for their communities. Pray for the days ahead and for the leadership of the world. Let’s pray for the persecuted church.

Let’s join our prayers together with those praying all around the world.

And then, God have mercy, may we learn to embody our prayers, to pray with our voices and our souls, our hearts and our minds, our feet and our hands.

Kyrie eleison. Lord, have mercy. Marantha. Come, Lord Jesus.

 

Continue Reading · social justice · 107

Maybe there is despair – but there is also hope in Haiti

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Photo by Scott Wade, provided by Help One Now

 

Haiti makes Walter Brueggemann make a bit more sense to me.

The Bruegg (as I affectionately and irreverantly think of him) is the theologian who has been wrecking building my life over the past few years.  In The Prophetic Imagination, he writes that real hope only comes after despair. Only if we have tasted despair, only if we have known the deep sadness of unfulfilled dreams and promises, only if we dare to look reality in the face and name it for what it is, only then – can we dare to begin to imagine a better way.

Hope is subversive precisely because it dares to admit that all is not as it should be.

And I thought: Of course….Haiti.

Today, we mark the fifth anniversary of the earthquake. Five years. 

There has been despair.

There is despair.

We see life before and after the earthquake – the poverty, the gross domestic product, the politics of a developing nation, and so on – and we know it isn’t right. This isn’t what God intended for us.

But because of our Jesus, our hope sees with new eyes, with Spirit-eyes, and imagines a better way. We see the goodness. We see the health. We see the holy. We see the strong communities, we see Pastor Jean Alix, and Pastor Gaetan, and Rosena, and St. Cyr with Help One Now, and then there’s Troy and Tara, Beth and John, and everyone at Heartline and all of the ways that heaven is breaking through right in the midst of it all.

Maybe there is despair – but there is also hope.

Hope cultivates the seed of the Kingdom that is already growing wild and free.

Hope comes alongside of each other, in friendship, and says, let’s do this. 

Hope is an act of faith.

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from my most recent visit to Yahve Shamma in April 2014

 

Since my own story intersected with Haiti, I have had my eye out for that subversive hope. We’ve made friends and we’ve built a school together, we’ve started a preschool and rescued kids from trafficking. I’m late to to the party perhaps but for the past five years, Haiti hasn’t let go of me even here from my life in western Canada. The world is small, neighbour.

Together, we are holding out for, working for, listening, creating, prophesying, and living into something better. For the Kingdom to come, for oaks of righteousness to tower, for leaves to blossom for the healing of the nations, for swords to be beaten into ploughshares, for joy to come in the morning, and for redemption.

Light a candle for Haiti today.

Say a prayer.

Make room to remember Haiti’s complex story.

And, if you can, perhaps send a bit of money to Help One Now projects in Drouin, Port Au Prince, and Ferrier village or to Heartline Maternity Centre which not only delivers babies but empowers women to raise their children. You can trust that your money makes a difference right on the ground in real lives with these two groups – they’re the real deal.

Also, all of the profits from the Jesus Feminist collection go to support these two worthy orgs.

 edited from the archives

Continue Reading · Haiti, social justice · 2

Introducing the Jesus Feminist Collection!

Jesus Feminist Necklace

Five Amazing Things about the Jesus Feminist Collection:

1. The products were created in partnership with Imagine Goods whose work, particularly in Cambodia, focuses on ethical, just, and sustainable production practices to support employment for vulnerable and marginalized people. You can read more about them here.

2.  ALL (yes, all, as in 100% of the) profits from this collection will be donated to Help One Now and to Heartline Maternity Centre in Haiti. Both of these organizations are grassroots justice work, staffed by people we personally know, love, and trust who reflect so much of the heart and passion of Jesus Feminist.

3. These items are beautiful. Seriously gorgeous design work. Andrea Levendusky designed the shirts and the prints, I need say no more.

4. The necklace alone makes my heart sing: it’s made from recycled bombs. Hello, swords into ploughshares, meet bombs into jewellery that will continue to do the work of justice. Can you even stand it? I want to cry every time I think of it. I imagine we’ll sell out of that one pretty quickly and I’m already planning a re-order. Then the t-shirts were made by survivors of trafficking in Cambodia. Every purchase helps people on the front end AND on the back end of production.

5. If you’ve read Jesus Feminist, you know my heart for the small grassroots efforts towards justice and shalom. We saw this as a way to not only support people we love and know, but also a way to begin to create a bit of employment. And so my husband, Brian, took this idea and connected with Aiyana at Imagine Goods then Andrea for design, and he did all the legwork for every piece to create this shop. It’s Brian’s baby but I have loved collaborating with him on all of it. My heartfelt thanks to him and to Aiyana, in particular, for creating this collection and being open to my ridiculous ideas like, hey, let’s give away every cent we make! (<— for real.)


 

 Voilà! the Jesus Feminist Collection!

(Clicking the link will take you to Imagine Goods to purchase the item.)

Jesus Feminist Necklace 2Jesus Feminist Necklace

This simple circle necklace stamped with “Jesus Feminist” makes a statement with class. Made in Cambodia by disadvantaged artisans of brass recycled from old bombs, and hanging on an 18″ brass cable chain, it arrives in a 100% recycled jewelry box—perfect for gift-giving!

$42

 

 

 

 


 

Unisex Jesus Feminist T-shirt“I Am a _____ and I am a Jesus Feminist” Unisex Fit T-Shirt

This unisex t-shirt is cut of soft cotton with a slight stretch (95% cotton, 5% spandex). Made by survivors of trafficking, your purchase empowers women and their families to live changed lives!  The artwork echoes a community based photo project from the book’s release – you can grab a white marker and fill in the blank however you like!

$30

 

 

 

 


 

 

Jesus Made a Feminist out of Me decal

“Jesus Made a Feminist Out of Me” Decal

“Jesus made a Feminist out of me” laptop decal is made of high-grade vinyl with UV coating and a crack-and-peel backing. Measures 3″x3″.

$8.00

 

 

 


 

Jesus Feminist t-shirtJesus Made a Feminist Out of Me” Women’s T-shirt

This women’s fit t-shirt is cut of soft cotton with a slight stretch (95% cotton, 5% spandex). Made by survivors of trafficking, your purchase empowers women and their families to live changed lives!

$30.00

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Outside Jesus Feminist Print“I want to be outside with the misfits” print

After a reader poll, this is one of two prints that you requested. Full quote: “I want to be outside with the misfits, with the rebels, the dreamers, second-chance givers, the radical grace lavishers, the ones with arms wide open, the courageously vulnerable.” Print measures 8″x10″.

$12.00

 

 

 


 

Rest in your God-breathed worth - Jesus Feminist Print

“Rest in your God-breathed Worth” print

After a reader poll, this is one of two prints that you requested. Full quote: “Rest in your God-breathed worth. Stop holding your breath, hiding your gifts, ducking your head, dulling your roar, distracting your soul, stilling your hands, quieting your voice, and satiating your hunger with the lesser things of this world.” Print measures 8″x10″.

$12.00

 

 

 


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And of course, make sure you pick up Jesus Feminist to include with your gift!

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

Chapters Indigo/Coles

our local Abbotsford bookshop, House of James, has it, too!

and almost everywhere books are sold.

 


 

Giveaway!

You knew I wasn’t going to end there, right?

I have one signed copy of Jesus Feminist and the “I Want to be Outside” print for one lucky commenter! Just leave a comment below telling me your favourite item in the collection, make sure your email address is included, and you’ll be entered to win. I’ll do a random draw from the comments in a week and send it along to the winner.

 

 

Continue Reading · Jesus Feminist, social justice · 87