Girl Rising: Don’t Miss this Inspiring Film

My husband Randy and I attended a screening of the stunning film Girl Rising the other night.

Produced by Paul Allen and several businesses  that have partnered through 10×10, a global action campaign to promote girls’ education, Girl Rising is a must-see.

We can know in our heads that girls are mistreated and abused in many developing countries. It’s something different to get that message shot like an arrow through your heart. That’s how I felt while watching  this film. Compelling stories of nine extraordinary girls from nine different countries are told. Their message is powerful: Educate girls and you will change the world. 

My friend who organized the screening of this on-demand film in our community, reminded me to bring Kleenex. Of course, she was right. One of the girls whose story was featured, was sold by her parents into an arranged marriage at the age of 11 or 12–an all-too common practice. Her parents felt convinced that this was best  to ensure a secure future for their daughter. The dowry was $5,000–money that was later used to buy a used pick-up truck for the girl’s older brother. In another story, a young woman sobbed during childbirth because she had given birth to a baby girl and not a son. Girls aren’t worth much in many cultures. What a tragedy!

But the message of this film isn’t simply to play on your heart-strings. These nine girls have been empowered to make courageous choices…sometimes dangerous choices…to stand up and have a voice, to become educated and pass that hope along to other girls. Hope is embodied in each of their lives. One girl with courage is a revolution, says a quote on the Girl Rising website.   

I came away from this film determined to do more to help educate impoverished girls. I also felt overwhelmed with gratitude. I was born into a family in the United States where I was cherished as a little girl. It was a given–I went to school. Every day for twelve years and then some, my parents and teachers encouraged me to learn…not only during childhood but for a lifetime.

Considering the world’s population, only a few of us are this fortunate. With the help and generosity of concerned businesses: Intel Corporation, Vulcan Productions, The Documentary Group, CNN Films, and partners: Care, Girl Up, A New Day Cambodia, Partners in Health, Plan, Room to Read, and World Vision, the message of Girl Rising is changing girls’ lives.

I hope you’ll take time to check out their message and watch the movie trailer–and perhaps host a screening of this film in your community. You’ll be glad you did.  

Over the Top!

There’s only one way to describe last weekend’s Women of Faith event in Spokane…over the top! I joined two of my dearest friends, Mary and Judy, in Spokane. Our friendships span more than 30 years. Since our birthdays are in late-August and early-September, we have our annual birthday party–and what better way to celebrate than at Women of Faith! Being together with friends is an over the top experience in itself.

My special Women of Faith friends, Mary & Judy

But then add the day-time session on Friday with Patsy Clairmont and Andy Andrews, and you get an unbelievable mix of humor, truth, and inspiration. Patsy reminded me to say “yes” to God, to practice taking responsibility for my behavior, and to grow up. Andy’s enthusiasm was contagious as he raced around the stage, up and down the stairs, and into the audience, proclaiming there’s huge hope for making different choices in our lives. I never imagined the variety of tunes that could accompany the words to Amazing GraceGhostriders in the Sky, House of the Rising Sun (sung like Elvis), and even the theme song from Gilligan’s Island! Who knew? I love Andy Andrews and his big heart for people!

Brenda Warner topped off the day with her inspiring story of God’s faithfulness to her as a single mom with a special needs child, and how her mission today focuses on loving babies with severe disabilities. Music with the Worship Team throughout the day and Mandisa’s concert Friday night lifted 7,000 women to a beautiful place of praise and worship.

When I thought it couldn’t get any better, Saturday came with a full day of over the top music and messages. I learned that Women of Faith has helped sponsor more than 160,000 children with World Vision during the past decade. What a testimony to Women of Faith and the thousands of women of faith who have responded to help these precious children.

Sandi Patty sang “We Shall Behold Him,” and tears flowed down my cheeks without apology– an over the top moment of inexpressible praise to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Lisa Whelchel spoke about friendship. Patsy told about her son’s illness and how she learned that change can be good. Deborah Joy Winans brought powerful truth with her dramatic presentations and a reminder to “drop our rocks” of judgment toward others. Marilyn Meberg explained why we always want more…God has placed eternity in our hearts. A concert with Amy Grant made the weekend complete for me. I remember listening to Amy’s music when I was a brand-new Christian in the early 1980’s, and how her music encouraged me back then. It still does!

Women of Faith is much more than an “event” to attend with special friends. It’s more like a reunion. The Porch Pals are friends we’ve come to know and appreciate and love through the years. Luci Swindoll came to Spokane and joined the Worship Team in singing “Great is Thy Faithfulness,”  even though she’s speaking at the Imagine event. She didn’t have to be there, but seeing her touched my heart–like seeing an old friend.

I hope you have an opportunity to experience an over the top weekend with Women of Faith. I’d love to hear about your experiences!

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Here I Am, Lord!

Be careful what you pray for…we’ve probably all heard that before, but I’m understanding more about the power of this prayer.

At Thanksgiving, I read an editorial in the Seattle Times that talked about being thankful as not being enough. The writer said we have to do something–another challenge to the many others I had already encountered during the past year. It all started when I read The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision. I had heard his passionate message at a Women of Faith gathering.

We have to do something about poverty and injustice in our world–not just talk about it. So I started praying the Here-I-am-Lord, send-me prayer. How can I help? What can I do?

Randy and I have been sponsoring children in Brazil for more than twenty years–but somehow, it doesn’t seem like enough.

Then one day before Thanksgiving, Kennedy Muricho, a young pastor from Kenya, introduced himself via Facebook.

“I saw your Facebook page, and I wanted to meet you,” he wrote.

I answered him, always amazed at how small our world is, how connected we are because of the Internet.

“You are an answer to my prayers, Mum,” he emailed back. And suddenly, I had an adopted “son” in Kenya. Not just a “son”, but a small village of children, too! Ken is caring for 19 orphans, ages 3-18 who have lost their parents because of AIDS. They live in a two-room building, where Ken says the conditions are “kind of congested.”

He sent me a picture, and now these children are real. They’re on the wall on my bulletin board at home, not just anonymous faces on cards asking for sponsors. Their pictures say more than any words could.

On some level, we all know the needs of the poor are enormous–beyond anything we can comprehend when we’ve hardly ever been wanting in our country. I can’t remember a time when I was hungry…I mean really hungry. But when we read books such as The Hole in Our Gospel, we have to ask the hard questions. What can I do, Lord? I want to–no, I must do more!

Sometimes, I feel like helping Ken and his kids is way beyond my means. I’m only one person, but I’m convinced even one person can make a difference.

Then I remember a quote the agency we’ve been supporting placed on their correspondence: To the world you might be one person, but to one person, you just might be the world.

Dear Jesus, help me be the world to Pastor Ken and his kids in Kenya!