We tend to feel comfortable when we mix with people who are like us,
perhaps because it means our beliefs will not be challenged. But what are
the benefits of having people in our community who are different to us
(in belief, temperament, practice, etc)?
The Women’s Skills Training Centre, in Kurnool, was founded by the Diocese of Nandyal, part of the Church of South India. The centre offers girls a 10-month training course that provides them with vital skills to help them find work in a predominantly patriarchal society.
My name is Tharani. My father died when I was 13 years old. I have a younger brother and a younger sister who were very small when he died. So my mother took on her own shoulders to bring us up.
My mother is called Apush and she earns only a small salary as a teacher at a mission school. So when I finished school I was very keen to come to this training centre to learn English and computing.
Spoken English and computers are very important in our society today. I want to become a teacher and with these skills I can work in any government school because knowing the computer and English is the way to earn more money. Then I will be able to help my mother.
At the centre, we also learn about the Bible. Bible knowledge is very important. Having spiritual knowledge will help me in my life. I like learning about powerful women in the Bible.
My favourite is Jael; she is the strongest woman of all because she killed the king’s army commander. By God’s grace and power she gained strength to do this. And we can gain strength through prayer so we can solve all of our problems, big and small. I want to share my bible knowledge so I will also teach in Sunday school.
I am very thankful to USPG for helping us and so many girls in our society who are getting this opportunity to be allowed be pushed themselves
For this study you will need to read the whole of chapter 4. Here is a summary of verses 1-17. For 20 years, the Israelites had been oppressed by King Jabin of Hazor, whose army commander was Sisera. The Israelites cried to God for help and the prophetess Deborah summoned Barak, explaining that God had ordered him to gather up 10,000 men to go and fight Sisera. The battle took place. Sisera’s army were put to the sword and Sisera fled on foot.
Now Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael wife of Heber the Kenite; for there was peace between King Jabin of Hazor and the clan of Heber the Kenite. Jael came out to meet Sisera, and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord, turn aside to me; have no fear.” So he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug.
Then he said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink; for I am thirsty.” So she opened a skin of milk and gave him a drink and covered him. He said to her, “Stand at the entrance of the tent, and if anybody comes and asks you, ‘Is anyone here?’ say, ‘No.’”
But Jael wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, until it went down into the ground—he was lying fast asleep from weariness—and he died.
Then, as Barak came in pursuit of Sisera, Jael went out to meet him, and said to him, “Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking.” So he went into her tent; and there was Sisera lying dead, with the tent peg in his temple.
So on that day God subdued King Jabin of Canaan before the Israelites.
Take a moment to settle.
Adjust your posture so that you feel relaxed but alert.
Close your eyes if you feel comfortable to do so.
Give yourself permission to be still and open to God’s presence.
Try to let go of the ‘chattering mind’ – it may help to focus your attention on your breath and the sensation of air flowing in and out of your nostrils – knowing God is with you.
Know that your life is in God and God’s life is in you.
Continue to abide in God’s presence.
Know in your heart that you are loved and accepted by God exactly as you are.
God understands your hopes and your struggles – and delights in you.
For some people, knowing the exact meaning of my gender is important and empowering. For others, these same descriptions are limiting and disempowering. Become aware of what your gender means to you.
However you may describe it – whatever this may mean to you – know that you are accepted by God exactly as you are.
Not all men are the same. Not all women are the same.
There are many men and women who defy stereotypes. Indeed, each of us is unique.
Know that the essence of who you are in God is unique – beyond all roles, words and labels.
Know that your true identity is in God.
Know that however we see ourselves, we are safe in God and accepted by God.
Holy God, we thank you that in Christ we are one,
Jew and Gentile, male and female, slave and free.
Help us to recognise your image in all around us,
and to work together for the dignity and fulfilment of all.