Women of Vision Share God’s Heart for the Poorby Penny Wood, former Women of Vision National Director (1993-2006)
In 1990 I was first invited to a small gathering of Women of Vision to hear about the trip they had planned to visit World Vision projects in Kenya. I quickly realized this was a group different from the Bible Studies and prayer groups to which I belonged. Both Bible study and prayer were a significant part of their service and meetings, but they had a singular goal of serving impoverished women and their families in places where resources were extremely limited. The needs of these poor women and families and God’s personal call resulted in our voice as Women of Vision for those who were voiceless in their circumstances.
God’s individual call to each woman brought about their life-changing involvement with Women of Vision. Indeed, in God’s amazing economy, as He fulfilled the desires of California women to make a difference in the lives of children we sponsored through World Vision, of the girls and women who wanted education and micro-loans and of those who needed the most basic of needs, clean water, we found the interaction to be mutually blessing. When Women of Vision returned to Soweto, Kenya we were told, “When you came the first time, we knew you cared; when you returned, we knew you loved us!” In those early conversations, we discovered that they had also been praying for us, our personal needs! Women who risked these unconventional relationships through WoV were spiritually blessed as we discovered that each person in a relationship is both poor and non-poor. While we were rich (non-poor) in material resources for living well, we learned that often we were poor in emotional and spiritual resources for living significantly. Until we were in a personal relationship with these women, we lacked the understanding of their courageous living— trusting in God’s daily provision in Kenya, and understanding true sacrificial generosity in Uganda, as we were given one of two eggs the hens had laid that day and three tomatoes beautifully wrapped in grasses.
As the lives of these earliest Women of Vision were challenged and changed, they discovered that their friends and relatives in various places across the United States wanted to know more about the “why?” and “how?” of such transformations. In order to respond to their interest and questions, and with World Vision, U.S. then located in Monrovia, California, the original chapter of WoV in Orange County, California invited women, their friends and relatives, from across the country to a 1994 WoV Conference where the lives and needs of girls and women in the developing world were presented along with the resources of World Vision field offices already established in these developing countries. The value of the approach of women who were involved in Women of Vision was in their personal testimony to what God was doing in their lives as they cared about and for children and women who suffered in the greater part of our world. They spoke to friends locally and hosted educational gatherings so that we all could learn more about the needs of our world. Mothers and daughters, sisters and nieces and friends of Women of Vision partners introduced the Women of Vision Study in their neighborhoods and towns and additional groups of women became interested.
As one young woman in tears during a study heard another women’s consolation of “This is not about what could happen to you,” she replied, “Oh, it could have been, were it not for God’s grace, so I am called to help.”Knowledge about the needs and oppression that poverty and war bring upon mothers and grandmothers in our world brings about an emotional investment that becomes a passion for making a difference. Information can be taught, but passion must be caught. When a Woman of Vision with her passion shares the information she has learned about our world and what can be done to help, others catch that passion and realize that together much more awareness and resources can be raised and much more can be said for the voiceless than by a single individual or small group.
During these 25 years of Women of Vision’s efforts on behalf of women and their families in World Vision Projects around the world, it has continued to be their individual testimonies to their families and their peers about changed lives— their own as well as those women and children in the international projects whom they serve. As others see in individual Women of Vision, their passion for the poor, their faithfulness to prayer and to raising awareness and resources, they too are drawn into this ministry. This celebratory year finds grandchildren following in their Women of Vision grandmothers’ footsteps, graduating universities and working in non-governmental organizations which also seek justice and help for those living in poverty or oppression.
As a partner of Women of Vision said recently, “I have believed in Jesus Christ for over 40 years, but in Women of Vision I experienced what it meant to FOLLOW Him, loving as He loved!” Only in the power and unfailing love of our LORD Jesus Christ could a group of women with a passion for the poor have grown into a ministry of World Vision that remains faithful to God’s Call to prayer, provision and advocacy on behalf of our impoverished and oppressed sisters and brothers in the world.
Thank you, Women of Vision, for so effectively sharing your passion that it has become contagious and caused thousands of women to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate in our world.