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Women's Cycle of Life in Uganda

Women's Cycle of Life in Uganda

“We identify and challenge the lies that our culture tells us about women. We replace those lies with biblical truth, and then we live in the light of that truth.”

Winnie, a middle-aged woman in Uganda, didn’t always live with that kind of hope. Six years ago, her husband died and she was left to raise four children alone. She began working with missionaries John and Beth Muehleisen, who invested in her spiritual and emotional health.

She grew up in the church—her husband had been the general secretary of Africa Gospel Church Uganda. However, each culture has its own set of values that run counter to the Bible, and Winnie was in bondage, trapped in fear and darkness. As time went on, God revealed truths about her worth in His eyes, His plan for relationships, and much more.

In 2015, the Women’s Cycle of Life program was added to WGM Uganda’s focus on whole-person community development. This program began in Haiti and focused on lessons about women’s health and childbirth. The Uganda team added components on marriage, relationships with children and in-laws, and other challenges Ugandan women face.

Winnie has become one of the best facilitators on the team.

Ugandan culture tells women that they only have value if they produce children. Winnie and her teammate Maria have a passion to help women see that they have immense value in God’s eyes. When a woman believes that she is created in the image of God, it makes a difference in every part of her life. It affects her relationships with her husband, children, and others in the community.

“It wasn’t until I started this training that I have grown to know the sweetness that’s inside of being born again,” Winnie shared.

Today, the second phase of training facilitators is underway, seeking to multiply the number of facilitators and increase the number of women reached. The goal is to have three or four women in each district able to teach the course.

“Technically, we don’t teach,” said Beth. “We facilitate learning. Everyone learns from each other as they share their experiences.”

A big part of the training is simply starting the conversation about sometimes taboo topics like pregnancy, family planning, nutrition during pregnancy and breastfeeding, childbirth, menopause, menstrual difficulties, and other health-related issues.

“There is a lot of misinformation out there, and we think the Church needs to be proactive in teaching about biblical sexuality,” explained Beth.

Culturally, African men are not expected to be faithful to their spouses. Men often travel to cities for work, leaving their families in villages. When husbands return to the family home, women have a real fear that their husbands may be HIV-positive or have other STDs.

Repentance in a Refugee Camp

Recently, the Women’s Cycle of Life team visited a refugee camp for a three-day seminar in northern Uganda, where most refugees are from either South Sudan or Congo.

After the first day, as the teachings about value in Christ’s eyes and finding wholeness in Him unfolded, the women said, “Our husbands need to hear this.”

The second day focused on building healthy families and relationships, and they said, “Our husbands REALLY need to hear this.”

That night, the women asked their husbands to come the following day. The next morning, to the surprise of the seminar facilitators, the women’s husbands came! (This is not a culturally normal thing—for a wife to tell her husband what to do AND for the husband to go along with it!) However, an even greater surprise came next.

As the training came to an end, the husbands publicly apologized to their wives. “We haven’t been treating you right,” the men told the women. “We didn’t know what we needed to do. Please forgive us.”

That level of humility—so publicly demonstrated—was a powerful example of what can happen when God’s truths are infused into all aspects of life, even in the private home.

“It’s not only about teaching the lessons,” shared Beth. “It’s also about sharing the love of Jesus through a hug, a listening ear, and praying for them. I want to always point them to Jesus and help them to understand more deeply the message of God’s Word.

“Through this ministry, my hope is that women will discover and begin to understand how much their heavenly Father loves each of them and desires to have a close relationship with them. I want them to know He sees them; they are not invisible.”

For Winnie, people who have known her for years will tell you that she walks differently now. She exudes joy and confidence in faith. She’s committed to helping her sisters in Uganda find that same confidence in Christ.

Action Step

GIVE: Be a part of helping women and girls in Uganda by donating to The Dignity Project, which provides reusable menstruation products for those who can’t afford them. You’ll also be helping women learn sewing and small business skills as they make and sell the products in Uganda.

Rachel Elwood, staff writer
The Call (June 2018)

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