Five days before Christmas, while we’re pulling wide sheets of gingerbread out of the oven and keeping the candle wicks lit, it’s front page news on CNN.
How a guy just shy of his 18th, who gang raped a girl on her way home on a December night 3 Advents ago, he’s walking free now this Advent, this season of waiting for the holy coming of God.
The girl, she’d laid there all that chilled December night waiting for someone to come. When they found her, gurgling to survive, her intestines curled round her body like a begging prayer.
They carried her to Delhi hospital and they called her Nirbhaya — the fearless one — and then they carried her to the grave when she died 4 days after Christmas.
Three Advents later, India’s weeping for her daughters, weeping for her girls, for all her Nirbhayas, weeping in their streets for Justice to come.
And India’s a country with her own Nirbhayas, of women without fear, of women who call themselves the Esther women, Esther women who’ve travelled, some 22 hours one way, on crowded buses for days to gather in workshops theses last two years because you’ve supported them to learn the stories of women of the Word.
The stories of women like Hagar and Hannah, of Ruth and Rahab told by Esther women who are telling the stories of how God meets and sees and values girls and women and calls us all to be Nirbhayas, fearless ones, because God is with us.
Because us Esther women here have been believing in our Esther sisters there, our Esther sisters all across India learned, memorized, and recorded 90 Bible stories, stories that will be downloaded on micro-SD cards and shared with people to listen to on their cell phones — with the potential to reach more than 60 million people.”
Our Esther sisters stood in small sound proof booths set up for the recording sessions of the stories of women of the Word, booths without air-conditioning, fans or simply ventilation.
They stood in those booths with the rain pounding and the heat and humidity pounding, and these Esther women were dehydrated and some fell with heat stroke, but they worked at recording these Women of the Word stories until after midnight, before the Esther women got back on packed buses for 22 hour trips to take the Word to their sisters and daughters and mothers and neighbours — because they know that what this world needs is a rescue plan and there’s not a greater rescue than the Word Incarnate, there’s not a greater hope than His Promises, and there’s not a realer lifeline than the lines of His Word.
Those Esther Women in India went back to their sisters and they told the stories of Women of the Word — and women who had been used and abused stood up and let themselves be called His Beloved, women who had been violated stood up and knew they were valued, women who thought they were dead were resurrected to the relief of new life.
Daughters learned the stories of Women of the Word from their Esther mothers and one 10-year-old girl stands up in front of scores of watching eyes, and from memory and with expression, tells the stories from Ruth — all four chapters — all learned from the Esther women and the Esther Storytellers’ workshop.
Those Esther women stood up during the Christmas season and the Esther storytellers told the Greatest Story Ever Told from the Luke, told the Gospel Story of the God who created and could not be contained by the expanse of heavens contracting to a point and penetrating the atmosphere of this pale blue dot of a world and birthing into our agony to rescue us from our abandonment.
They told the story of Joseph kneeled in the straw and the shadows and how the light of God burst from the birth canal and how Joseph’s carpenter hands caught the wet fresh hope of redemption and how he touched Mary’s damp cheek because Love had come down.
And one man interrupted the Esther Storytellers. He stood up and he looked over at his wife, swollen and round with their 5th child and he said:
‘I need to be more like Joseph.’
An intoxicated man who violated women, who had never once allowed his wife in all her pregnancies to ever seek any medical help, he listened to the Esther Women tell The Story We need to Stay In —- and he said:
“I need to be more like Joseph —- I want to change my life.”
The man took his pregnant wife by the hand, touched by redemption’s hand, and they went to the medical clinic — because a baby was coming and there is only One Story that has the power to forever change all our Stories. There is only One Story that can forever raise the dead to life, that can forever resuscitate broken hope, that can forever re-member all our unspoken broken.
“What these Esther Storytellers are doing is new, this has never been done, this could change whole worlds for young women, for little girls, for the next generation,” is what the Bible translator from the Seed Company, a division of Wycliffe, and one of the directors of The Esther Project told me.
“And when this model of all women translators gathering and empowering oppressed women around the power of God’s Word — we need to be ready for what will happen —- ” Dr. Alex said.
“Tsunami. Be prepared for the Tsunami of women asking for these Women of the Word stories too.”
And it’s happening. It. Is. Happening. Esther Women on this side of the ocean are part of this rising Tsunami of Esther Women, rising from our project in India — that’s now moving from Asia to Africa and the women of Ethiopia.
Love’s come down to India, and now The Esther Project moves forward like a wave of hope to embrace our Ethiopian sisters, and is completely mobilized by our Ethiopian Esther sisters, training and empowering hundreds and hundred of women to tell stories of Women of the Word to their sisters, to raise them up into Esther Storytellers, to uplift our sisters in an area of the world where women are heartbreakingly culturally dominated.
TogEsther, 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 Love came down.
It. is. time.
It’s time for the rain to turn to snow three days before Christmas, for Esther Women to rise up around this hurting globe, from Asia to Africa to Who knows Where Next, a tsunami of women who choose to be Esthers for such a time as now when the world is heaving and weeping for fleeing women, when a pale blue dot in the universe shares this strained hope for a Kingdom come of Mercy and Justice and Peace and we could be part of heaven and nature singing.
In a world where it would be demonically easy as women and sisters and wives and mothers to turn off the news stories and disengage and seclude ourselves because Hope for Change can feel elusive — we can link arms and hold on to one another and walk Together —- TogEsther — and make room for the Incarnate Word — because there is absolutely nothing the world needs more than the Incarnate Word.And the GenEsthers are the ones to invest in the only thing that will last forever, transform forever, remake forever — the Word of God —- for every soul made by God.
The Nirbhayas could be all of us, the fearless ones, the ones who will not let the fraud of fear or the myth of scarcity gut out our courage or our compassion to be part of the rising of His Hope for all His Women.
Nirbhayas, the fearless ones —
who will invest in raising up more Esther Storytellers in Asia and now Africa and the Story is only just beginning —
because this is the season for a heartbroken people whose brave, desperate cry is only, “Come!”
Come all you who are worn and weary and who long to midwife a King who will woo all His daughters to life.
Come you who every day do one thing that you wish you could do for every one.
Come now, in a world exhausted with ache, come Lion of Judah and King of Kings and Lord of Lords, come to seek and save all of us who are utterly lost without You.
Come now Word made flesh and dwell among us. We have seen His glory — in the eyes of every one who says Yes.
There in the nativity, there in the manger trough, is the Only One, in a a breaking and broken world, Who is unbreakable… who can rebuild us… the only One worthy of our offering.
And three days before Christmas, a weary world throws off it’s fears and all out in the streets, there’s this brave rejoicing for the Coming.
The Word comes down now —
What Happens When the Word Means Something To a Woman:
And because the Word come down to us means something to us this Christmas:
The Esther Initiative is our initiative — the initiative we as a community here at A Holy Experience get to participate in TogEsther, the community that The Seed Company has specifically invited us to partner with them.
TogEsther, this community so believes in investing in the harvest of the Word, you’ve grown The Esther Initiative all the way from Asia now to Africa….
Last time we set a goal of $25,000 for the Esther Initiative — and you Esther people CRUSHED that goal, raising three times that much.
That’s who you GenEsthers are — you don’t miss an opportunity to be Jesus and make the Word go forth in this old hurting world.
And we will not deny anyone from the joy of doing this: This Esther Initiative is how we can say to Jesus this Christmas: Come, Incarnate Word — we will make you room, we will make You room in the heart of women all across this globe.
(And an anonymous donor has already kicked us off with a donation of TWENTY ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS!)
So our Esther Sisters in Africa — who are hungry for the Incarnate Word and stories of Women in His Word meeting Him — need only 2,000 of us to be their Esther sisters and donate $20. Are you one of the 2000 GenEsthers? Who will invest in and declare the value the Incarnate Word this Christmas?
Be one of the ones to stand as a GenEsthers saying YES to His Word for His women this Christmas? Let a weary world rejoice.