Half the Sky: When You’re Ready to ACT to Bring All Girls Back: The Esther Initiative

So the guy with white hair spoke under half the sky, spoke under a flinging of stars.

Spoke like he was made up of some star-dust from the Star-breather, some cosmic flame burning up his bones. Like he was a wide-eyed kid who caught a bit of a comet and lit.

The lady beside me smiled wide like she caught that comet’s tale. She called him Louie.

Her Louie stood there in front of us all up on Dove Mountain and Louie called us all to our knees.

And then pointed his finger up.

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Half that night sky was pinned up with these diamond flecks starring all His glory arched high over Dove Mountain.

You don’t count that kind of wonder. This is the kind that you can only feel, lush velvet on your lungs.

There are girls in Nigeria under these same stars. Mothers in India. Sisters in Rwanda. There are girls wondering if anyone sees them underneath those stars.

Louie whispered it looking up, that God is a Star-breather and a Story Teller and some day we’d stand before God and He’d be telling the story of Dove Mountain. Because peace can push back the dark.

Because we’re the mothers and daughters and sisters and fine men and real brothers who had gathered on Dove Mountain to celebrate with The Seed Company and Wycliffe the translation of God’s very Story into 1000 heart languages — and we’d dug deep and laid down and joined with The Seed Company to end Bible Poverty and pour out for the translation of His Word into 2,000 more heart languages.

The only Story that it matters to be a part of is the one where freedom reigns.

Behind Louie, up there higher on Dove Mountain, lights blink on — a thousand white lights, like stars come down on the mountain. Like stars shaped into continents and countries, a thousand lights for 1000 heart languages hearing His heart with theirs.

Nobody moves, the sky low and close.

This is illumiNations. Light for the nations.

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Then the lights move down Dove Mountain, carried in the hands of girls and mothers and sisters and fathers and brothers.

The nations lit and moving, encircling us, asking us to see their faces, to not forget their faces.

In the morning, I sit outside for breakfast with Dr. Larry Jones, one of the directors of the USA board of Wycliffe, the Senior Vice President of Field Programs for The Seed Company.

He tells me that his daughter gave him a book. He looks over at me. “A book called “Half the Sky.”

Yes, that book —- Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. And I nod, yes — Girls of Nigeria and Mothers in India and Sisters in Rwanda and half the needed sky.

We’re sitting out under the Arizona clear blue and I’m nodding slow, looking into this man’s eyes, a man who’s spent his life for God working on the translation of the Indonesian Yawa language.

He and I have read those words in the pages of “Half the Sky“:

More girls were killed in the last 50 years —- precisely because they were girls —- than men killed in all the wars in the 20th century.”

Does anyone see the girls, care about the girls, do whatever it takes to bring the girls back to hope?

“I read the book carefully, slowly. And I asked God…” the man clears his throat quietly, a man who knows what it is to talk to God and listen.

“I asked God — what can I do as a Bible translator for the plight of women? What can we do in Bible translation to come to the aid of women?”

I don’t know what to say — there are men of God who love women of God like this.

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And Dr. Larry  leans forward:

What if instead of pastors working with male Bible translators to bring the Bible to men who can read, what if there was a different, fresh paradigm, a new constellation of hope?

What if women Bible translators could gather with women, most who can’t read because education has been denied them based on their body and their chemicals, not on their value and their worth.

And voiceless, invisible women were given voice to share their stories and trials and lives and female Bible translators would open up God’s Word and give them stories of women of the Bible and the God who valuess them?

What if women gathered with women to see the value and worth God gives women? What if women empowered women through that which has the ultimate life-changing power: His Word.

And what if pastors and husbands and fathers and brothers gathered around women gathering with women and said yes, yes to His truth and His value and His worth of women — because unless a man looks to Jesus, a man doesn’t know how to treat a woman.

When the prevailing thinking is boys will be boys — girls will be treated like garbage. Girls will be mistreated and dismissed and misunderstood and misplaced — and no one will do anything about it.

And that is never the heart of God.

Unless a man looks to Jesus, a man doesn’t know how to treat a woman.

How would it change the world if men and women around the world knew that God chose to make His entry point into the world through the holy space of a woman, to enfold Himself inside of a woman, to drink of a woman, be held and nourished and cared for by a woman — that’s the jolting truth of how God loves His daughters with His honor.

How would it change the world if men and women around the world saw that that Christ never beat down a woman with harsh words or lusting eyes or sneering innuendos, but He stepped in and stopped a broken woman from the abuse of angry men.

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How would it change the world if men and women around the world heard how Christ came to the defense of a scandalized woman?

And the Son of Man stood between her ache and her attackers and He lifted the weight of shame from her and cupped her heart with hope and He wrote a new future for her into the dust and dirt of everything and he saved. her. life. That’s how God loves His daughters with His defense.

That Christ didn’t degrade women in His talk, but He made women heroes in His stories.

He invited a woman with a coin and broom to reveal the truth about the Kingdom of God. That Jesus honored an intentional woman with an unjust judge as unveiling the character of very God.

That Jesus elevated a lonely, unmarried woman who dropped her meager resources into the temple treasury as the rebuke of God for all the rich and religious. Jesus said the

That’s how God loves His daughters with His words.

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How would it change the world if men and women around the world saw that Christ didn’t demonize women but He accepted the presence of a woman reviled by the self-righteous?

That He sat with the scandalous woman that the righteous regarded as damaged goods, and He welcomed the rejected and the immodest though this made him lose the respect of the religious. That’s how God loves His daughter with His grace.

That when Christ stepped out of that black tomb, he still didn’t choose to first manifest Himself to prestigious officials, religious leaders, the Twelve —- but instead He revealed Himself first to the women, He entrusted the veracity of His resurrection to the testimony of the women.

How would it change the world if men and women around the world saw that Jesus offered the privilege of proclaiming Christ as the risen Savior to the women, though no court at the time would accept their testimony.

That the point is? Jesus decided, welcomed, invited, women to be the first evangelicals. That Jesus decided, invited, welcomed, women to be the first to proclaim the completion of the Gospel would be women.

Not as evidence of an elevation above, but as evidence of the value of all.

That’s how God loves His daughters with His regard.

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What if there was a generation who let how they viewed women be shaped by how Jesus valued women?

What if half the sky was found and brought back and half the stars sang again?

Dr. Larry Jones sent the vision to Dr. Alex in Asia. And Dr. Alex leans forward at our breakast out on the lawn and he tells me what happens in Asia the day he’s reading Dr. Larry’s email from America.

“There were voices outside my office as I was reading this email, a raucous, and crying and yelling, and I asked what was happening, what was wrong.
And they tell me that a girl is missing.”

And I nod under a spring sky — Yes. There are missing girls. Too many missing girls.

“That a small girl — a four-year-old girl —- is missing, gone, taken from her house. And we all say that we must stop and go looking, that the girl must be found.”

The girls must be found.

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Dr. Alex tells me what happens next.

Tells me with his hands moving, like hands raising up and reaching out can make a difference, can tell a story, change a story.

“Villagers go out to the fields behind the village, then down across the fields, calling the girl’s name, looking for this little girl, then down into the jungle. And that’s where we find the little girl curled up and crying, deep in the jungle —- and it’s obvious.…”

Dr. Alex lowers his voice but there isn’t a heart around this table that isn’t howling loud for Jesus’ sake, the injustice must stop.

One small girl has been taken and raped and her innocence stolen and how can we not do something for the stolen girls because we are here for such a time as this.

“And as the women clean up this little girl and comfort her and bring her mother,” Dr. Alex’s hands are palm open in front of him, us, “I come back to my screen and I read this email, this vision from Larry Jones about a fresh hope for women by women all around His word, for us all to see how God value’s women —- and I bowed my head. It was obvious: This is from God.

God sees His daughters and God longs for His daughters to be brought back to His heart and God wants His daughters and His sons and the mothers and the fathers and this world to know His Word can’t stop speaking loud and sure of their worth.

The vision is for women Bible translators to travel to Asia,” Larry leans toward Dr. Alex, both men now talking with their hands, “and for women across a province of Asia to come meet together for two weeks, six times over the next two years — several stages and phases and workshops —  to share their stories and to orally learn the stories of women of the Word like Hagar and Hannah and how God meets and sees and values women.

Once these women learn the craft of telling these Women of the Word stories in each of these workshops — the women will carry these stories back to their villages to their sisters and mothers and daughters and neighbours.

And then the Women of the Word stories can be passed from woman to woman, and recorded and played on small mobile devices, how God meets and sees and values women — with the potential to reach more than 60 million people.

Dr. Alex and Larry Jones look across the table toward me hopeful. What do you say to these to humble men of God who are praying freeing, emancipating dreams for God’s daughters?

What do you say but yes?

This is new, this has never been done, this could change whole worlds for young women, for little girls, for the next generation,” Larry’s gentle eyes are smiling.

Dr. Alex turns to me:

“And when this model of women translators gathering and empowering oppressed women around the humbling, powerful love of God’s Word — when other hurting women and Bible translators in the world see this model… we need to be ready for what will happen —- ” Dr. Alex looks over to Dr. Larry Jones.

And Dr. Larry  smiles across the table:

Tsunami. Be prepared for the Tsunami of women asking for these Women of the Word stories too.

Women in Africa and in Asia and in South and Central America, a tsunami of girls in need.

And a tsunami of hope for those lost girls and we are here for such a time as this, for a tsunami of love to push down the gates that have brutalized and commercialized and marginalized the daughters and mothers and sisters for whom Jesus died.

It. is. time.

Dr Alex says it like hope to me:

We’re calling it the Esther Initiative.

And I nod hard.

Why are you here but for such a time as this?

The Esther Generation taking up the Esther Initiative:

Women empowering Women through that which has life-changing power: His Word.

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What had we read in ““Half the Sky.”?”

You. Her. Us. Here. For such a time as this:

Women aged fifteen through forty-four are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined.”

Try that again: Girls the age of your teenage daughter, women the age of your sister are more likely to die from the hands of male violence? Than to die from cancer, malaria, car accidents or war combined?

How do the people of God read this, the headlines about stolen girls, and then be the people of God? You. Her. Us. Here. For such a time as this.

How do our lives say that caring about oppressed women isn’t work exclusive to only feminists — but is inclusive to the work of the Jesus-feminists and the reforming Calvinists and the everyday Baptists?

How can the rest of the world be caught blithely cat-napping when our girls, our daughter, our sisters are being kidnapped and our girls are driven from being kids to being our slaves, to being our whims trafficked and bought and sold, as if that chain of DNA that makes you female are chains that make you invisible.

How does the Esther Generation rise up and say for such a time as now we will risk everything inside the gate for those sisters outside the gate.

For such a time as now we will risk comfort, for such a time as now we will risk ease, for such a time as now we will say no to oppression’s disease, for such a time as now we will give up so our sisters can rise up.

Because there is nothing worth having inside the gate when you’ve got sisters losing everything outside the gate.

Because you could do this: Every day you can do one thing that you wish you could do for every one.

It’s happening on Dove Mountain, the Dove Mountain story unfolding and we can be a part of it — the hope of His peace.

It’s happening everywhere and it can be us, the Esther Generation risking it all for all the stolen girls, the oppressed women, all of Jesus’ daughters.

It’s happening —- the bringing back of half the sky, all lighting with His stars.

 

 

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The Esther Initiative is our initiative the initiative we as a community here at A Holy Experience get to participate in, the community that The Seed Company has specifically invited to support and journey with and partner with in The Esther Initiative. We will not deny anyone from the joy of standing as the Esther Generation, the joy of being the heart of the Esther Initiative. This Esther Initiative is how we can ACT to bring all girls back to their true value. Phase One: $25,000. Let’s let HIM do this thing through us! 

In honor of all the mothers this weekend, in honor of all the stolen girls in Nigeria, the slave girls of Haiti, the brothel girls of India, the trafficked girls in our own countries,  in honour of your daughters and your sisters and your mothers and your Jesus who calls all the daughters His —
will you stand with as part of the Esther Generation who is making the Esther Initiative happen? Every $5 matters & makes a difference and God will MULTIPLY our little loaves and fishes. 

You. Her. Us. Here. For such a time as this. For such a time as NOW. 
Every day you can do one thing that you wish you could do for every one. Today, together, right now, we can do something for all the forgotten, stolen girls. 

This Mother’s Day weekend, stand with the Esther Generation for the Esther Initiative and make even a $5 donation and DO something and bring all of the lost and abandoned girlsback to the love of their Father. 

Photo credit: 40, 42

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