Naomi and her daughters-in-law are left behind.
In one of the most touching exchanges in all of the Hebrew Bible, the three women contemplate what comes next. Naomi, set to return to her homeland, tenderly counsels Orpah and Ruth to return to their families of origin, blessing them and praying for their safety, security, and their futures. While Orpah tearfully returns to her family, Ruth clings to Naomi.
"Where you go, I will go," Ruth tells her mother-in-law.
"Your people shall be my people,
And your God my God."
And so the two women set out, desperately poor, desperately fearful.
As Migrants. Refugees. Uncertain women in uncertain times.But as the story unfolds, we see these women as so much more. We see how they partner together, how they become family, how they remind one another of their own worth. We see them as agents in rebuilding their own lives, their family, and their future. Most importantly, we seem them play an integral part of God's covenant
Their thriving is our thriving.
Today, all over the world, we celebrate International Women's Day. At Week of Compassion, this means that we lift up partnerships that lift up women, we celebrate ways women are change agents in the disaster and development work we support, and we shout from our proverbial mountaintop the evidence, the facts and figures, the research, that reminds us of a clear reality:
If you want to invest in an entire community, invest in its women.
If you want an entire community to be empowered, empower its women.
If you want an entire community to thrive, make sure its women thrive.
All over the world, from neighborhoods in Joplin, MO, where women have been change agents in the recovery effort to villages in rural India where women are putting their new farming and entrepreneurial skills to work, women are making a difference.
Their people are our people. Their thriving is our thriving.
The Week of Compassion Womens' Empowerment Fund is a key tool for providing the skills women and girls need to be change agents in their own communities and in our world. Consider claiming the thriving of one girl, one young woman, as the thriving of your own community by supporting this important work.
Week of Compassion partnerships that empower women are many. The following list, though not exhaustive, highlights some of the ways we partner with women all over the world:
Prosperity Candle, which strives to empower women to rebuild their lives through candle making, one gift at a time.
Equal Exchange, whose fair trade philosophy not only supports women through its emphasis on farmer-owner cooperatives, but whose Congo Coffee Project, in partnership with the Panzi Foundation, supports the medical programs of Panzi Hospital in the D.R. Congo. The Panzi Hospital provides life-saving treatment, counseling and aftercare programs to more than 2,000 survivors of sexual violence each year.
Agricultural Missions, through whom we are supporting microcredit projects for women in Haiti as a way to help them rebuild their communities following the 2010 earthquake.
Foods Resource Bank, whose focus on smallholder farmers, food security, and agricultural development empowers women by enhancing skillsets and building relationships between agricultural communities all over the world.
IMA World Health, which supports safe motherhood initiatives, works to provide life-saving treatment to survivors of sexual violence, and supports grassroots partnerships that empower women in their own health decisions.
CWS, whose countless programs empower girls and women in their own communities as they build water and hygiene systems, provide peer-to-peer support in community education programs, serve as peace educators, disaster responders, and so many other things.
Our future-the future of God's beloved world-is impacted by the empowerment of women and girls.
For this we are grateful. And for a world that continues to empower women and girls so that we all might thrive, we continue to pray. And work.
Thanks be to the God who calls us all.
This Week's Assistance: