On September 13, 2008, In the Shadows of Nairobi's tall buildings
approximately 75 women met in a small corrugated metal building, the Evangelical Methodist Church of Mathare, Kenya.
It's our understanding that these women came from diverse areas of Kenya, some make long travels to be there. Why
did they come? Was it curiosity to see what this tall, American woman had to say? Possibly. But, we believe it was more.
We believe the
women came because their hearts hungered to hear a message that God loved them and that He had not foresaken them. We believe
these women came because somewhere deep in their hearts beat a truth, that what the world had told them about theirselves,
that they didn't matter, that God had forgotten them, that they were unworthy, that they deserved the pain they had suffered--
these things that the world had told them were lies.
One thing that Rev. Susan
has learned in her travels to some of the world's most difficult places is that women everywhere hunger to know one thing:
That God loves them--personally. Women everywhere have suffered abuse and sorrow and heartache.
(We are not saying that men have not--but this is about the women!)
When Susan shares with women
in mud villages, refugee camps, poverty crushed slums, she shares from her own sorrows, and her own joys! But she shares
something more--the love of a Father who does not forget, does not abuse, does not reject, does not abandon, does not neglect.
Susan with some of the women from the conference.
This Father, God, is also husband to the widow
and Father to the fatherless, the orphan.
When women hear Susan's own stories of suffering and sorrow, and they also hear
how God has taken her to Him for comfort and solace they too begin to heal. It's more than that, because the women learn
and know and understand that if He has done it for Susan, He will do it for them. When they learn of what He has taken her
through and the storms that God himself has sheltered her in, they realize that He will shelter them also. And, when
they know the debts, the trespasses, the sins that He has forgiven Pastor Susan of, they know that He will also cleanse and
forgive them and their hearts are healed.
Then Peter opened his mouth and said, "Now I understand that God shows no partiality.
Act 10:35 Indeed, the person who fears him and does what is right
is acceptable to him in any nation.
He has sent his word to the descendants of Israel and brought them the good news of peace through Jesus Christ. This man is
the Lord of everyone.
Act 10:37 You
know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached.
Act 10:38 God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit
and with power, and he went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with him.
Act 10:39 We are witnesses of everything he did both in the land
of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They hung him on a tree and killed him,
10:40 but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear-
Act 10:41 not to all the people, but to us who were chosen by
God to be witnesses and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
Act 10:42 He also ordered us to preach to the people and to testify solemnly
that this is the one ordained by God to be the judge of the living and the dead.
Act 10:43 To him all the prophets testify that everyone who believes in him receives
the forgiveness of sins through his name."
Act 10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all the people who were listening to
Act 10:45 Then the circumcised
believers who had come with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the gentiles, too.
Act 10:46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising
God. Then Peter said,
Act 10:47 "No
one can stop us from using water to baptize these people who have received the Holy Spirit in the same way that we did, can
see, God is not a "respecter of persons" as it is put in the KJV or as above in the ISV, "God shows not partiality."
What does this mean? It means that what God does for one person He will don for another. When God poured out His Holy
Spirit on this day when Peter was preaching, He did not only pour it out on the Jews (this is who the "church" was
made up of then), but also on the Gentiles. As a matter of fact Acts 10:44 says that "the Holy Spirit fell on all the
people who were listening to the his (Peter's) message."
The Good News of God's love is not just for men, nor just for women! It is not just for American's, nor just for white's nor just for blacks nor is it just for the wealthy, nor just for the poor!
The Good News of God's love and the presence of the Holy Spirit of God is for all people, everywhere who hear the Word
of God spoken. When the Good News of God's love for women is spoken, women are healed.
What are they healed from? They are healed from years of carrying heavy burdens
of shame. The awful truth is that women have things happen to them just because they are women. Women suffer sexual abuse
as little girls and it happens more often than anyone in any culture wants to admit. Women get sold into sexual slavery--and
as hard as it may be for some people to believe, it still happens in today's "civilized" world! Women
get used by men, and by cultures and by systems and societies and yes, even by religions!
God wants women, His daughters, to know that He loves them, and He has made a way
for healing and redemption and restoration for them. When they come to him with open hearts, hearts full of pain and
sorrow and shame, He will not turn them away.
Joh 8:1 Jesus went unto the
mount of Olives.
Joh 8:2 And early
in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
Joh 8:3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman
taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
8:4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
Joh 8:5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned:
but what sayest thou?
Joh 8:6 This they said,
tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger
wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
Joh 8:7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that
is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8:8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
Joh 8:9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their
own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even
unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
Joh 8:10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman,
where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
8:11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Susan shares with the women in the conference about this woman
caught in adultery:
"You know, this woman had a reputation. Otherwise,
how would the men have plotted to catch her. Can you imagine these men plotting and sneaking around trying to catch this woman?
How did they catch her in adultery? The men didn't care about the woman or her soul or even her reputation. No,
they just wanted to use her to be able to condemn Jesus. You must understand that they didn't just hear of this woman
committing adultery, but they caught her in the very act. Now notice, no one tells us about the man being caught in the act
of adultery! It was the woman who they brought forth to shame.
The Torah, the Law of Moses clearly
stated that she was to be stoned. The men knew this, and they knew if Jesus said, "Stone her" then he would lose
favor with the people as being compassionate. They knew if Jesus said, "Be compassionate and don't stone her"
he would be committing blasphemy against the Torah, the Law. Again, they were not at all concerned for this woman, or
her soul. They were only concerned that they could use her for their own purposes, which were to trap Jesus.
Jesus didn't say anything. Instead, he stooped down and He put his finger in the dirt. This is what Jesus
does for us. It is what God has done for us. He has stooped down out of His Heavenly places and He has put his finger in our
dirt. Jesus doesn't withdrawal from the woman's dirt, anymore than he withdrew from the unclean lepers. Instead,
he reaches out and he touches our dirt.
So, Jesus stooped down and he puts his finger in the dirt,
and he writes something. Greater theologians than I am have pondered for centuries what Jesus wrote in the dirt. Did
he write a commandment? Did he write the names of the men? Did he write the sins of the men who wanted her stoned? We
don't know. What we know is that somehow, Jesus must have also touched the dirt in the men's lives. How do we know
Jesus said, "He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone."
Then Jesus went back to putting his finger in the dirt--writing--something--
Notice that Jesus
did not say the woman was without sin! He didn't say that she did not deserve to be stoned. He didn't offer
any vocal defense of her at all to the men. Instead, he gave the one who was free of any guilt the opportunity to cast the
first stone. He knew that none of the men could honestly say that they were without sin. Finally, when Jesus stood back
up, the men were gone. There was nothing left but a weeping woman and a pile of discarded stones. Jesus asks the woman
where her accusers are, and she tells him they have left. Jesus tells her that he does not condemn her, but then he cautions
her to "sin no more".
In the world, the secular world, we want to say that we have no
sin. The Bible says this makes us liars. In the world, we want to say that those around us have no sin, we call it "tolerance",
and people do not get healed of their wounds because of it. The Bible sasys this makes us false teachers. This woman
knew that she had sinned. Jesus did not say she didn't sin, yet he also did not condemn her. Instead, he forgave
her and commanded her to go and sin no more.
Jesus is willing to do the same thing for me and
for you. Today, where ever in the world you are, Jesus is willing to not only forgive you of your sin, but also to cleanse us of every unrighteous
and filthy deed. I don't know about you, but when I sin, when I commit unrighteous and fithy deeds, I know it. My
heart groans within me and my soul is tormented. I don't need someone to tell me that my sins are not sins or my unrighteousness
is really just someone else's lack of tolerance. What I need to know is that my sins can be forgiven and that I can return
to a right relationship with God and with others. I also don't need to be beat up over my sins and misdeeds. When I sin,
I simply want to come to Jesus and know that everything is made right by His righteousness.
You can know that very same thing. If you put your trust in Him.
This is only one of
the many messages shared. Susan also encourages the women with messages on leadership and integrity, to be like Deborah and
Jael and Lydia, all women in leadership!