Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Spread of Hope

Michele Rickett: I think the world is waiting to see, what do Christians really do?

 

Leslie Basham: This is author Michele Rickett.

Michele: We say what we believe, but what do we actually do in the face of a very troubled world? I think it authenticates our message about the love of God when we demonstrate love in the things that we do in a very positive and gracious, Christ-like way. 

Leslie: It's Wednesday, October 7, and you're listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I'm so thankful that God has not made us to be stand-alone Christians, but He's made us part of a family in Jesus Christ. That family extends not only to those who speak our language and look like us and attend our particular local church or are in our particular denomination, but that family extends to brothers and sisters that we have in Christ around the world.

The heart of Jesus is that we would care for them as He does, and we've been hearing in these past several Revive Our Hearts programs from a sister in Christ, Michele Rickett, who knows and has talked with many of our sisters around the world. She has opened our eyes to some of the oppression and the ordeals that these women are suffering, in many cases because they are women and in some cases, as well, because they are believers in Jesus Christ. Michele, thank you so much for letting God put this burden on your heart and for sharing it with us because I know it's deeply touched many of our listeners.

Michele: Well, it's such a privilege for me. Thanks for the opportunity.

Nancy: You're not just talking about things you've read in other books, as I am to some extent, though I have traveled in some of these parts of the world. But you have traveled yourself and sat down, sometimes in clandestine meetings, sometimes in out-of-the-way places, sometimes in places that you can't even name for security reasons. But you've sat down and listened to the heartbeat and the stories of these women. You've let their tears and their situation become something that's on your own heart.

I was particularly touched by a story you told toward the end of your book, Daughters of Hope, where you recount many of these stories. You gave an account of a conversation you and your coauthor, Kay, had with a woman in India. Kay, your coauthor, started out by asking that woman, “Is there anything you would like to ask us?” Tell us about the conversation that followed.

Michele: We were talking to about 300 women who are considered untouchable in the caste system. In the caste system, there's everything from the Brahmin priests at the head of the caste to those who are not even a part of the caste. They're considered the scum, left over from a previous life. They must have been a terrible person, and now no one should do anything to help these people.

These untouchables, even their body language, they look down at the dirt when you talk to them. They're not used to even making eye contact with another woman, especially a woman from North America, so we worked and worked with these women by saying, “Please tell us your stories. What is it like to be a woman like you in your culture? What is it like for your daughters? What are your hopes for them? What are your dreams?”

After we interviewed so many of them, finally we thought, well surely they have messages for us. They gave us some wonderful messages that we brought back home in the book and as we speak to others. Then we asked, “Well, maybe you have some questions for us. Maybe you're curious about what life is like for women in North America.”

Finally, one woman, though she was a little shy, came forward. She said, “Well, I have this question. Do you ever go hungry because you are a Christian?” My board member, Kay Strom, said, “Well, no, I never did.”

“Well, did you ever have your house taken away from you because you're a Christian?”

“No, I can't say that we did.”

Nancy: All this conversation is happening with a translator.

Michele: Yes, yes, of course. “Did you ever lose a job because you are a Christian?” We're looking at each other, “No, where are these questions coming from?”

Someone asked, “Well, when people find out you're a Christian, do they throw rocks at you?”

“Oh, my goodness, no! That's never happened to either one of us!”

“Has anyone ever thrown you in a fire because you are a Christian?”

These women were asking us things that they had seen and experienced, and we said, “Well, no. You see, in North America those things don't happen. In America it's against the law to abuse people, to burn their houses or throw them in a fire or to throw rocks at them because they're Christians.”

The women stared at us like they didn't comprehend what we were talking about, and they finally asked, “Well, if it doesn't cost you anything to be a Christian, how do you know that you really are one?”

We were stunned. We were absolutely speechless at that question because racing through our mind is, “Oh yes, you have to wonder if you're never challenged that way, if you would respond.” As Kay and I discussed it later on in the hotel room, we thought, “Well, surely there's a way that one can be certain you're a true Christian than people throwing you into a fire or burning your house down.”

The conclusion that we came to is how we concluded the book, and that is, we can become people who take it so seriously that there are those who suffer for Christ, that we are going to join together with them. We are going to pray about these things. We are going to inform others about these things. I love the biblical definition of an advocate. An advocate is just like Jesus, who speaks up for us before the Father.

We can speak up for others before the Father. It's not a nebulous, “pray for all the people persecuted everywhere,” but we can actually get more insight. We can get better informed about what's going on for women and children and be a part of strengthening them and be a solution to their issues and challenges that they face in sharing the Gospel.

Prayer advocacy is one part, but speaking up can be another way when we speak to others about what's going on, just like I'm being an advocate right now. You and I are on the radio. We are advocating that people get informed about these women, and we keep that information current on our website so people can go on.

One of the things that has happened, sort of a grassroots movement. We have about 33 advocacy groups nationwide, groups of women. After I come and speak and I'll tell them about somebody like Lottie in Indonesia, they will covenant together to pray for her regularly and do something creative to get the word out about her work to their circles of influence.

Now, these women may never go to Indonesia, although we do take a few women from time to time, and sometimes we get to bring Lottie here to meet those advocacy groups that are praying for her. These women, often, will do something as simple as starting a book club in their church, or instead of doing a Bible study one month, they're going to work through the stories in Daughters of Hope.

We have a group of 14-year-old girls in Pennsylvania who heard about Daughters of Hope (one of them did). She suggested to the Bible study leader that they go through, pray through, this book just to get informed about what's happening to girls their age around the world. They got so creative. They put a map on the wall. One of them would pretend that she was a woman in the book.

“Hello, my name is Songa. I am 14 years old. I married a man who already had wives. You see, I live in Senegal, Muslim West Africa,” and she'd point to the map. These advocacy groups get so very creative. Those girls, halfway through the book, told their teacher, “You know, this book is not just about information. It's about action.”

I talk about prayer. It, of course, is the foundation. The right foot is information, and the left foot is action, so these girls got creative. They baked dozens of cookies and sold them in front of Christian bookstores while they told women who came in the stories that impacted them the most from the book Daughters of Hope.

These 14-year-old children—their friends are hanging out at the mall and playing Nintendo games. These girls will never be the same.

Nancy: Yes.

Michele: They invited me to come to their last meeting, and there weren't very many of the girls. I think it grew to a group of about 20 or so girls, but the church was half-full with women. Their mothers and their teachers were there as they gave me one of those big, fake checks from their proceeds. They put in a well in Timbuktu because they read about Songa, that the women have to walk so very far. They took action.

Now, these girls have no income, but they got creative. They know that in this country, you can do whatever you want, so that's one of the things these advocacy groups do is think of something creative. Put on a Victorian tea. Do a walkathon, something to get the message out there in a bold way, not only to Christians.

I think the world is waiting to see, what do Christians really do? We say what we believe, but what do we actually do in the face of a very troubled world? I think it authenticates our message about the love of God when we demonstrate love in the things that we do in a very positive and gracious, Christ-like way.

By raising up advocates, little groups here and there—and I go and speak to churches and women's retreats and conferences, basically anyone who will listen, to empower our women and girls here, women and children here. The children in the United States have more discretionary income than adults in most of the rest of the world, so there is an economic power that God has granted to us.

It's like He says, “I've given you a hyper-abundance of everything. What are you going to do?” Just like I did with my little girls, I would give them something, and I'd just say to them, “You know, I hope you share. Jesus wants you to share, and you get joy when you start to share.”

I think God is inviting us. It's one of the messages, I think, from the women overseas. We've all been given a little or a lot, and the question is, are we going to be faithful with whether it's a little or a lot? Faithful means we're going to be focused on Christ and His kingdom with those things. Let's start teaching our own children about what it means to be faithful by showing them the way.

In the late 1800s, early 1900s, Christian women distinguished themselves by starting orphanages, prison reform, institutions of higher learning. That was when they had no discretionary income, and they didn't have the rights and the freedoms that we have now. In the last 100 years, there's been something, I think, of a vacuum of real, deliberate, organized action, and I want to awaken that, kind of resuscitate, revive a very good, old idea that Christian women show their children what you do when you have more than what you need for yourself.

Dr. Ralph Winter said that the largest wave of North American missionaries that ever went out in human history were the children of those women of purpose at the end of the 18th century as those moms took these children in tow with them while they served Christ in a deliberate and purposeful way.

Nancy: And you actually have an arm of Sisters In Service called, “Kids In Service.” Tell us how the children can get plugged in.

Michele: Of course, with this hard information around the world, we wanted to make it palatable for children. So we have a wonderful woman, Beth McMillan, who has been helping us. She travels to areas where we have children's projects and brings that information home.

She has been an educator of children all of her adult life, and she packages that information to give children here an opportunity to kind of walk into a village in, say, Muslim West Africa and experience the food (she brings recipes), meet the children (she gives the stories of the children), and then shows some of the practical needs of those children that kids' groups, home-school groups, can kind of wrap their arms around.

One of those issues in the destitute villages of Muslim West Africa is the need for food and education and health care. One of the ministry leaders we're working with there is called Pastor Noah, if you can believe it. So he wants to put in Noah's ark.

It's a place where children can come during the day and learn about the love of God in Christ, learn very basic education, and receive a little meal from them. So it's a very doable, little project that even children here can learn about inTimbuktu. It's an actual place in Mali, one of the poorest countries in all of Africa. They can be a part of the solution and enjoy what it means to participate in making God known as they get informed about a broader world and their part in it.

Nancy: One of the things I love, Michele, is that you have taken what is a global issue, and sometimes we just hear about all the problems in the Muslim world, in Iraq, in Sudan, and it just seems so massive and overwhelming. We can't get our hands around that. But you have helped to put a face and a personal story to this massive, global issue of problems with women and children and have broken it down into some specific, practical projects that women in North America can be involved in praying for, in giving toward.

Tell us just about one or two of the projects. You mentioned the Noah's ark project, but what are some other projects that women have become involved with through Sisters In Service?

Michele: Well, each of these projects, though they're about evangelism and discipleship, they often have a very practical element. What we're finding is, if you enter a village in Jesus' name and say, “Jesus knows you live here. He knows that your children are very sick, and we'd like to help there,” one of the things that we've been working with with the minority groups inside China, they're a whole group of single moms.

Up in one particular province, it is culturally acceptable for men to try out girls to see if they will give birth to sons, and if they do, they may marry them. They may not. It's called a trial marriage. If they give birth to girls, they are then cast out and live in a tent.

It is minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit six months out of the year, and these women and children are living in a yak tent. So a very practical way to show Jesus' love is to say—the local Christians there, the Chinese Christians said, “We have gotten permission with the local government to put in a little, block house for them so the animals can't get to them in the cold, and it has a stove in it for about $2,500.”

That's a very practical way, and do you think these women have any problem at all understanding that God loves and cares for them after that? All of them want to know about this God who saw them freezing in their yak tent and wants to give a solution. Just like I was compelled to think that there might be a God who was kind and gracious because somebody was kind and gracious to me, that's the way that we work.

We started working in Iraq with some Iraqi Christians there. They said, “The women are cloistered at home. They can't even go and buy bread without a male relative.” We have this idea that if we had a women's center, a development center, men will drop the children off at school. We help to fund that, and then they could drop their wives off at the center. It's like daycare for women. I don't care what you call it, of course.

So it's run by local, Iraqi Christian women. They learn how to read. They can get on a computer. They have a little coffee shop for them. It's a very practical project that takes bricks, mortar and the finances to do that.

In India, it's more about literacy and micro-loans. For about a $15 loan—if you think about it, it's about $200 a year to transform the life of a woman in every way it can be transformed from evangelism to discipleship to joining a little micro-loan program to learning what it means to save.

These women make 50 cents a day, and we teach them how to save a little money and then how to invest in their own, little business. Then we train them to train others and start these others, so we multiply out these little micro-loan programs. For some of us, that's cappuccino money.

Nancy: Okay, you've thrown out the gauntlet here. You've thrown out the challenge. Michele, my heart has been so touched as I've been reading your book, Daughters of Hope, and as I've heard you speak on Revive Our Hearts this week. I want to challenge each of our listeners first of all to get a copy of that book, Daughters of Hope. You must read these stories.

There's no one who can say now, “We didn't know.” Now, you're telling us we can know, and I want our listeners to order that book. I want to encourage them to read it. If you'll go to ReviveOurHearts.com, to our website, we'll link you to Sisters In Service. There's a newsletter that you can get through Sisters In Service, lots more you can find out about how to become involved.

Depending on your season of life and how God specifically directs you, that may look different. But I want to challenge you to say, “Lord, what do You want me to do? I've been blessed so that I can be a blessing.” My burden is that Revive Our Hearts would be a ministry that God uses, not just to bless women in North America, but through our lives to be a blessing and an encouragement to women around the world for whom Jesus Christ died.

Leslie: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss who will be right back with our guest, Michele Rickett. I hope you'll pray with them in just a minute. I want to follow up on a couple of points you just heard Nancy make.

First, she told you that you can learn more about the ministry Sisters In Service by visiting our website, ReviveOurHearts.com. Well, when you're at that site, you can also get a copy of Michele's book, Daughters of Hope, and as Nancy just said, you must read these stories.

We want to make it as easy as possible for you to get a copy, so we'll send the book when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Today's the last day we'll be making this offer, so please contact us right away. Again, donate any amount at ReviveOurHearts.com, and we'll send Daughters of Hope by Michele Rickett. You can also call 1-800-569-5959.

Tomorrow, Nancy will pick back up on her teaching series on the letters to the churches in Revelation. A group of early Christians lived in a city known for its idolatry. It seemed to be a terrible place to live for Christ. Hear about the encouragement and challenge they received from Jesus Himself tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Nancy: Again and again this week, we've talked about the importance of prayer, and I don't want to just talk about that. I want to do it. Michele, I want to ask if you would lead us in praying for these women.

The Lord knows their names. He knows their stories, but their stories are etched on your heart. They're etched on Jesus' heart, and we want to join you as you help us lift those women up to the throne of grace. Would you do that for us as we close this program?

Michele: Yes, thank you. Oh, dear heavenly Father, how we thank You for the blood of Jesus by which we enter Your presence with boldness because He has redeemed us, washed us, dressed us, and crowned us!

Thank You for the authority of that wonderful name by which we can come on behalf of those who suffer to serve You. Oh, how we thank You for the privilege of knowing women who are willing to give You their all, their very life. Father, we pray for them, and we pray that You would strengthen their hands and their hearts today that they would not feel all alone, that they would sense that they are not forgotten, that they are a part of family.

I pray, Father, for their safety and for their health along the way. You know that there are those who have been taken into custody, like sister W. who writes us from the prison and says, “Thank God for my new assignment. All the women here are coming to Jesus.” So we pray that You would not waste a thing.

We know that You don't, and Father, the things that we have learned from them, may they not be wasted in our own lives or in the lives of our children. We so love our kids, and we don't want them to sink into materialism and a meaningless life. We want them to live for You. Help us, Father, to lead the way, showing them what it means to live for You as we embrace those who suffer to serve You, as we embrace Your kingdom and Your glory as the highest thing to which we can give ourselves.

Thank You, Father, for all that listen to this message and are touched by Your Spirit. At the groaning and the cry of the oppressed, the Lord God rises from His throne, and we rise with You to say, “We will not sit still on this information. We will honor You by taking what You've given to us and sharing it with others.” We thank You that we can serve You in any way. May we boldly live because we are so deeply loved for Jesus' sake, amen.

Nancy: Amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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