How did Jesus interact with women?
Mary the mother of Jesus. Mary Magdalene. Mary of Bethany. Martha. The woman at the well. The woman with a 12-year hemorrhage. All of these women, plus several others named and unnamed, show something remarkable about Jesus and his ministry: He honored, respected, loved, and included women.
The patriarchal Hellenistic Jewish setting into which Jesus was born considered women second-class citizens, inherently inferior to their brothers, fathers, and husbands.
So it is amazing that Jesus chose women to be part of his ministry at all. Even though none of the twelve man disciples were women, women were with Jesus throughout his ministry. Women mourned at the foot of the cross. Women found the empty tomb. Women were the first in history to preach the resurrection of Jesus.
Just like in Jesus’ time, women in the Busoga region of Uganda, where I live and work, are left behind. They are considered inferior, cursed, worthless.
Women are denied education. They kneel in the presence of men. They seldom own or inherit property. First, fathers own their daughters. Then a man pays a dowry for her, and she becomes her husband’s property. Women cannot escape even the longest and most abusive of marriages without paying back the dowry in full, no matter how many children she produced or how much money she earned for her husband.
Women’s standing in rural Busoga in 2019 is very similar to that of women in Israel in 33.
So, just like in Jesus’ time, preaching the gospel where I live means addressing the discrimination and abuse women face. That’s why the nonprofit for which I work, Kibo Group International, embeds women’s empowerment into everything we do. The purpose of our work in rural villages is holistic community flourishing, and that simply isn’t possible if half of the community is forbidden from participating, contributing, and leading alongside men.
My program, Health and Spiritual Empowerment, takes a special interest in empowering women in our partner villages. We teach them that men are not superior to women; men and women are equally loved and valued in the eyes of God. We teach them that women are not curses because of their sex; men and women are both a blessing to their families and communities. We teach them that if women are left out, then the community is missing out on half of their resources, ideas, gifts, and strengths.
Just like in Jesus’ time, this education and encouragement of women is necessary to preaching a holistic gospel in Busoga. To follow Jesus is to be welcome in the community of God’s people, and to be truly welcome is to be able to use your voice and your gifts for the benefit of all.
Special guests Roy Mwesigwa and Abraham Mulongo will be visiting us at The Journey Sunday, April 14, 2019
Ida Bazonona | Manager, Health and Spiritual Empowerment
Ida is among the founding members of Kibo Group and the Source Cafe, where Kibo is headquartered in Jinja. Currently she oversees the Health and Spiritual Empowerment Program. Ida visits villages to empower women and other disenfranchised community members, and to teach and unify communities through Bible lessons. Ida serves at Jinja Church of Christ and has six children: Rogers, Sarah, Mark, Rebecca, Reuben, and Resty.