Friday, September 18, 2015

Guest Post: "Stand Up, Be Heard"

Have you ever thought about what power you have to impact global change? I had never considered myself an advocate until I had an experience in a developing nation which turned me on my heels 180 degrees, facing our nation’s Capitol and our lawmakers.

Two years ago, before I was involved with World Vision’s Women of Vision Charlotte, I had the opportunity to travel to Uganda with an organization called Bead for Life. I have been volunteering with them for several years and this was a trip to see the people and programs that empower women to start their own businesses and sustain their own income on the ground in Uganda.

Elizabeth  Campbell with children she met in the village of Iganga, Uganda.
Elizabeth with children she met in the village of Iganga, Uganda
Among the many powerful experiences and interactions I had, one of the most moving was with a woman named Mary who lived in northern Uganda. After she told us her shocking and truly heartbreaking story—about being abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) when she was seven months pregnant, tortured, and forced to watch her family members murdered by soldiers—she gathered our small group together in a circle and asked us to hold hands. She then prayed for all of us. Mary prayed for the safety, long life and happiness of our families. How humbling it was to receive her prayers.

Mary and so many others on that trip saw us as powerful messengers to the First World. They were all eager to give us their desperate messages for the people of the U.S. Most of the women simply want to make sure we know they exist and that they are suffering. However, the most common message was—they are praying for us. I always thought of Africa as a mission field where we can go and lend our expertise to help and to care for them with love and compassion. I never thought about the women in Africa praying for us here in the U.S. with love and compassion.

It was over the course of this trip that I felt lifted up by these wonderful women as a powerful voice on their behalf. I realized that because I was born in the First World I have tremendous power to speak for them. From my platform, my voice is not only heard, but it is listened to. Since returning from that trip, I joined Women of Vision Charlotte and have been immediately attracted to all of the advocacy initiatives.

After meeting so many incredible mothers in Uganda and connecting with them, I realized we all have the same desires for our children. We are all connected by our heart’s desire to see our children thrive in as many ways as possible. For us in the First World, it means we want them to receive the best education (available for free), do well in their extracurricular pursuits, and enjoy the bounty of living here.

But for most mothers on the planet, it means having food, clean water, and shelter. Seeing mothers who are helpless to provide these basic needs for their children is heartbreaking. I believe as Christian women in the U.S., it is our responsibility to speak up for these women and their children. Luke 12:48 says, “…Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required…”

If we all stood up for women whose voices can’t be heard in the overpopulated crowds or from the slums where they are weak and malnourished, we could have an impact. To put it in perspective, we are the minority and yet we are in the position to speak up for the majority of women and children on the planet who live in constant suffering.

I guarantee you, they are praying that you will do this for them. They are praying for your children to be well so you have time to think about theirs. They are praying that we will remember them. They are praying that God will move you to help them.

This has been re-posted from the World Vision website. If you would like to see Elizabeth's full blog post and learn more about her efforts with World Vision, you can do so by clicking here.

Elizabeth Campbell and her husband live in Charlotte, North Carolina with their two children. She is an active member at Sardis Presbyterian plus a member of Charlotte Women of Vision and a volunteer Community Partner for the NGO, BeadforLife. She loves traveling, reading, spending time with her family and now… advocating!

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