Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 8, 2021

2021 International Women’s Day


Today is International Women’s Day.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Choose to Challenge” because a challenged world is an alert world — and from challenge comes change. This theme also acknowledges the reality that we are most in danger when we are not alert. Bad things can happen to us and to others when we are not alert and fail to understand the times — the historical, political, and spiritual context in which we live.

As the church we must choose to challenge — to call out the many ways in which women in their respective contexts around the world are abused, marginalized, neglected, disrespected, and treated with less than the dignity bestowed on them by God.

In order for us to engage we must first understand what is happening. And in order to understand what is happening we must see clearly. In the words of the American essayist and philosopher Henry David Thoreau, “It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.”

The parable of the Good Samaritan recorded in the Gospel of Luke (10:25-37) illustrates the difference between looking at something and actually seeing. In this story, a man on a journey was robbed, beaten, and left for dead on the side of the road.

A priest and later a Levite walked down that road and “saw” the poor fellow who had been beaten and left for dead. Sadly, both of them continued on their way. Neither of them stopped to render aid.

However, later in the day a man from Samaria walked by. The Scripture records that he also “saw” the man. However, when he saw him he felt compassion (Lk. 10:33) and that made all the difference. What he saw prompted him to move in the direction of a man in desperate need.

The Samaritan was willing to stop, alter his schedule, and spend his personal resources in order to help another. He displayed what the great American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. called “a dangerous unselfishness.”

King suggested that the priest and the Levite likely thought, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But the Good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

And, that’s the question before each of us!

The Gospel of Mark records an account of the only miracle that Jesus performed in two stages (Mark 8:22-26).

A blind man was brought to Jesus at Bethsaida. Jesus took the man aside, put spit on his eyes and laid hands on him, and then asked him if he could see anything. The man replied that he could see men, but they looked like trees walking about — an indication that his sight was blurry.

Jesus laid His hands on the man’s eyes a second time and, as a result, the man could finally see others clearly. Jesus could have healed the blind man with one touch but chose instead to touch the man’s eyes a second time. Perhaps He did so to remind us that insight often comes slowly.

If we are to understand the times and choose to challenge, then we must ask Jesus to touch our eyes a second time so that we too can see clearly.


Hurt and abuse most often happen out of our sight. That’s why we need that second touch that can give us greater vision and insight into the things that happen in the shadows. We must slow down enough to look to our left and to our right in order to develop peripheral compassion — the kind of benevolence that is born out of awareness of what is happening in the periphery of our vision.

Ten years ago I came across a heartbreaking story about a woman named Marie Joseph — a 36-year old mother of five children who went to the community swimming pool to get a little relief from the summer heat.

The swimming pool was packed with people. At some point, a 9 year-old boy saw Marie going down a slide and into the water — but he never saw her resurface. So, the little boy told one of the six life-guards on duty but the life-guards failed to act.

The following day the pool was once again packed with swimmers splashing about and enjoying the water. Then, late Tuesday night after the pool was closed, Marie Joseph’s body floated to the surface at the deep end of the pool.

It’s hard to imagine how a woman could drown in a public swimming pool packed with swimmers and go unnoticed for two days. Six trained life-guards on duty, two teams of pool inspectors, and hundreds of swimmers failed to see Marie Joseph’s lifeless body lying at the bottom of the pool.

Perhaps if the life-guard had acted on the word of the little boy who promptly reported his concern this story might have had a different ending. It appears that a combination of unfortunate factors and distractions converged to keep numerous people from noticing Marie Joseph. She died in plain sight and nobody noticed.

Marie Joseph’s story illustrates the plight of many women today. So many young girls and women are drowning in pools of abuse, in filthy brothels where human traffickers have enslaved them, in cultures where they are victims of violent gang rapes or honor killings, and in marriages where they suffer abuse at the hands of misogynistic husbands.


Girls and women are the most common victims of gendercide which is expressed in three forms: feticide, or sex-selective abortion, infanticide, and gender-based violence.

In countries like India, for example, the three most dangerous words are “It’s a girl.” In 2007, UNICEF estimated that as many as 7,000 girls are aborted in India every single day. Those numbers are likely higher today. And every single day any newspaper in India will include stories of infanticide and gender-based violence against women.

In 2008 while visiting our pregnancy help center in Uganda, I was introduced to the terrible truth about how very young girls are seduced and abused by sex traffickers. What I learned made me angry. How could one human being so abuse another and rob young girls of innocence they would never regain? This was yet another ugly expression of the violation of the sanctity of human life.

After my visit to the aftercare home that cared for young girls rescued from human trafficking in Uganda, I thought about the words of abolitionist William Wilberforce who said, “You may choose to look the other away but you can never say again that you did not know.” I could not look the other way. I knew I had to act.

A friend asked me what I intended to do. “I will challenge the women of my church,” I said. “This injustice against young girls will make them angry and they will become champions for these young girls and others like them.” And that is exactly what happened.

Over the past ten years, Kingsland has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in championing the rights of young girls trapped in the unspeakable hell of being raped daily for the profit of sex traffickers. We mobilize women’s teams to travel internationally to work with our partners in the fight against human trafficking.

Our engagement in this arena began with seeing something horrible that in turn triggered compassion that led to a challenge that resulted in a response that has changed the world for young girls and women in several countries. We are more alert than ever to this horrible reality.

As Christ-followers, our response to what we see reveals much about us and whether we truly embrace the teaching of a biblical worldview that affirms the worth and dignity of others and calls us to move in the direction of people in need in order to make difference.

What are you looking at — or more importantly, what have you seen that has broken your heart?

What will you do to offer the kind of life-saving aid that the Good Samaritan offered?

How is God stirring you to become a champion for those in need?

And when you look back on it all in years to come, what will you be able to say about how you responded when your life intersected with something that broke your heart?

Ask Jesus to touch your eyes a second time and to make you alert to what is happening around you. Determine to act on behalf of the weak. Support initiatives that acknowledge the worth of women and restore dignity to girls and women around the world. Choose to challenge and do your part to change the world.


Responses

  1. Thank you for this Omar! You always bless my heart as you express your heart for life and those sisters diminished in this life!

    Blessings,
    Bill

    Bill Velker | SVP of Operations & Prayer Mobilization
    LIFE International
    72 Ransom Ave. NE | Grand Rapids, MI 49503
    Phone (616) 248-3300 ext. 112

    From: Go Beyond
    Reply-To: Go Beyond
    Date: Monday, March 8, 2021 at 3:57 PM
    To: “bill@lifeinternational.com”
    Subject: [New post] 2021 International Women’s Day

    Omar C. Garcia posted: ” Today is International Women’s Day. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Choose to Challenge” because a challenged world is an alert world — and from challenge comes change. This theme also acknowledges the reality that we are most “

    • Thanks, Bill. Grateful for your encouragement, friendship, and partnership in the gospel.

  2. Well said, Omar!

    It is incomprehensible for me to try to understand the cruelty of our present world. In light of what we are doing to women and the unborn, the present pestilence pales in comparison. While we celebrate international women’s day the World Health Organization celebrates a very different day in September 2021.

    https://www.who.int/news/item/28-09-2020-international-safe-abortion-day

    In the eyes of our Lord, our value system is completely upside-down. I’m sure tomorrow’s headlines will be more focused on the British Crown than world abuse of humanity.

    The ruling class and elite have turned their face from the Lord and God has allowed them to go mad. Like mad dogs, they will devour themselves.

    The Lord says in Isaiah 55:8-9

    For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

    Thanks for shedding light in a very dark world.

    • Thanks for your readership and insights, James. May we continue to serve others as Jesus would and to represent Him well through increasingly challenging days.


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