Months ago someone called me and asked me to host a table at the annual women’s event. I smugly checked my calendar and rejoiced to decline because I was supposed to be in Uganda for our adoption. I thought what a great and valid reason to skip it, woohoo one less thing to do. Last week she called me again. “Tonya, since you are here and you have all this found time on your hands will you please host the table with the theme of Uganda and share your passion for the ministries there?” What could I say? I was trapped by my own passion which meant I’d- one have to go and- two have to iron a table cloth. Sure I’ll do it. It was easy to come up with my decorations because I used what I collected from my trip to Uganda and gave the whole table an African flair. It was boxed up days ahead and really it was no problem. But then I got a call the night before the event, “Since you have so many hostessing supplies will you host a second table?” (this woman has seen the inside of my kitchen cupboards) I avoided that call. I didn’t want to lie and I didn’t want that much last minute work either. Then I got an unavoidable text, “Please please please do another table.” Oi. “Sure.” So I scrambled around the house and put together another table top and labored over ironing another ninety inch table cloth and now my van was weighed down with heavy boxes. I confess I even grumbled a little bit to God about it because I didn’t understand why I had to go to this women’s event when I would have been anywhere but there on a Tuesday night, and all I really wanted was to be in Uganda not here talking about it. But He seemed to cross His arms over His big holy chest and not budge with my cry. I got tough love from Him. I was on my way to a women’s event and I had no idea why I’d been cornered into it.
Every table was decorated with a different theme based on a service passion of the hostess. They were all fantastic! I saw missions, worldwide justice initiatives, adoption, book clubs, kidz club ministry, support our service men, and so many others. I enjoyed sharing my passion for Uganda and our adoption story with the women, new friends, who chose to sit at our table. A speaker from Baylor, who also works at Donny’s church in Waco spoke about her passion for worldwide justice for women. Our missions pastor, Omar Garcia, spoke and invited some women to speak about women in worldwide missions. One of his friends Leah had a story that touched my heart and changed a little corner of it permanently.
Her passion has always been speaking to muslim women about Jesus, which most often resulted in a firmly shut door. She was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at age 34 with two children under three. They didn’t give her much time to live. Somehow she believed God had decided to put her in the midst of other cancer patients so she could talk to them about Jesus and what there is after cancer, after life. She was able to touch many there, but God wasn’t finished with her. She still had the passion for muslim women and he cured her completely after her surgery in a way that left her expert doctors dumbfounded. She spoke often and widely about her story and the grace of God. The Pakistani government heard of her story and asked her to come speak to their women about breast cancer awareness. In their culture it is an ignored illness for reasons of culture taboo and the women are dying of it at record breaking rates. There are only four mammogram machines in the whole country! She said, I will come but I can only speak if I am allowed to say that Jesus cured me and my faith in Him is why I am here today. They said, we don’t care. So she has been able to get muslim women in large groups to hear about breast cancer awareness and the gospel of Jesus Christ. God had a plan for her. She helped develop a program, pearls at a great price, that helps spread the breast cancer awareness and gospel of Jesus to muslim women all over the world. I simply remain awed by the hand of God in individual lives when I hear stories like this. She is an inspiration to me.
There was shopping at this event, of course, what else would women be eager to do besides chat and eat? The wares were items created by women around the globe using their hands to improve their lives. I bought a necklace from Ethiopia. It was made from gun ammunition, melted down and formed into beads by women in a small village who are creatively working to improve the conditions for their families. I love it. To take something that was once used to kill and turn it into a better way of life shows me they have hope, and that is beautiful.
I’m still not exactly sure why I had to be there last night. I wondered by all the indications I received that I was supposed to be there that perhaps there might have been an earth shattering epiphany for me, but there wasn’t. I was shown, once again, it’s not about you Tonya. I happily shared my story, enjoyed meeting new women, listened to an inspiring story that will comfort me all my days, had a nice time catching up with a good friend who just received her referral for her adoption, and I helped support some hard working women in Ethiopia to have a better life while I adorn my neck with the memory of their story. I would do it again. Maybe next time I won’t grumble so much.