Watching Gods grace work

She turned up in my small group on the first day of my first year. A young woman, slender and frail, skin as dark as the night, dressed in faded clothes, barely speaking English. A few of us wondered how she possibly passed the entrance exam. But her name was Kiruba, which means ‘grace of God’. Maybe it was by God’s grace that she had been accepted into one of the most prestigious Bible colleges in the country. But how was she ever going to get through four years of rigorous tertiary studies in English? Maybe I could help somehow. Would it be worth it? Maybe the college should just send her home now.

In second year, every student has to read the Bible aloud in the chapel. How was Kiruba going to manage it? Her first year had passed in a blur. She barely understood instructions, often managing to show up in the right place at the right time by literally following the other women. Others from her ethnic group must have been helping her get through the classes by translating for her, both ways. She asked me for help and came to my apartment every day to practise reading her Bible passage. This wasn’t a sermon, mind you, just simply reading the passage out in front of the whole community. As she stood behind the lectern, quaking with fear, every student and every faculty member was holding their breath.

It was word perfect. And with a boldness that must have come from the Holy Spirit.

One Christmas while our residential Bible college was on its holiday break, I went to visit Kiruba and a few other students in their homes. After about twenty hours on the rickety train, she met me at the tiny station and we rode in the open, ‘naturally air-conditioned’ bus another four hours to her home.

It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. There was a lot of love here, but not a lot of money. It was a simple mud-brick house with a couple of bedrooms, a common area and a kitchen outside. The beds were made of jute rope tied over wooden frames. We walked in the fields and chased the chickens and chatted about this and that. I wondered how this farm girl ended up at a prestigious Bible college in the big city 2000 kilometres away, and what would happen after she finished.

In final year, all of the students have to preach in the chapel. By then we were no longer anxious about what would happen when Kiruba took the pulpit. We all knew that this was a woman anointed by God with the power of His Spirit. She had an incomparable boldness, a fearlessness that made others stop still and listen. Where had it come from? I believe it was there all the time. I always felt that my time in the classroom wasn’t as significant in the lives of our students as the time I spent with them in the college dining room, by the playing field, in my lounge room. My colleagues and I had just allowed Kiruba the space to blossom and flourish under the care of her Master. She trusted in Him fully, and gave herself fully in his service.

Now Kiruba pastors a church in the south of the country, together with her husband.

Jessica has taught at Bible colleges in Asia and Australia. She currently provides leadership and pastoral care to Interserve workers in South East Asia.

Learning from women

We sat around her table, overlooking the valley down to the city. The table was covered in papers and we frequently reached for our phones to record things that struck us as together we wrestled with the issues.

My friend is a follower of Jesus from another religious background, and she continues to identify both as a member of that community and as a follower of Jesus. I had given a paper at a conference on the role of patronage in discipling women followers of Jesus from Muslim backgrounds. I had learned a lot from her when she explained how her community operates and women’s roles within it. I was aware that my paper had some under-developed areas. Now we were talking through what it would look like to have a book that pulled apart the topic and added to it, and how we could do this together. I am both a learner and a facilitator in this ongoing process.

Research and writing had not really been on my agenda as a young cross-cultural worker. I was by nature an activist but when I did my PhD I found new doors opened for conversations that brought together my activism and my love of research.

I was researching the role of women in social change, and was invited to attend a women’s rally. As we gathered at the start of the rally, I found myself standing by Mukhtar Mai, who had been the subject of international media attention after the local village council ordered her rape as punishment for an alleged crime by her brother. How would I, as a follower of Jesus, have a meaningful conversation with this woman? I knew she would wonder if I were just another foreigner looking for a way to use her for my story. As we talked, I wanted to know about her, not just the story that was already in the media. We stepped back from the noise and in a quiet voice she talked about her family and the girls in her village, whom she passionately wanted to protect.

I walked through the march, talking to women and asking them about their hopes and dreams in participating in such a rally, seeking to understand what change would mean for them. I thought of the stories of Jesus’ interactions with women that could be shared. This has helped me think through the work of the When Women Speak … network in training and equipping women to reach Muslim women.

Research and writing has now become a core part of my cross-cultural work: facilitating and publishing collaborative research and writing by women, including those who follow Jesus from Islam, to help the church understand how women experience faith; training the church in other places with higher education qualifications so it can be an articulate participant in transformation in its community; encouraging reflective practice among women mission practitioners through online courses; and forming a platform for women’s cross-cultural mission research at the Australian College of Theology.

Research and writing enables me to participate in new ways in God’s great work of reaching the nations.

Cathy has served with Interserve for over 30 years, working with women in the Muslim world. She now leads When Women Speak…

Therapist (Physio/Occupation.)

South Asia / Medical / Health / 1-11 months, 12-23 months, 2+ years, Consultant, Elective / Job ID: 1463

This is a development project situated in a rural area. It has a training school for midwives nurses and community workers a community development work a research hub an English-speaking school up to age 16 and a 150-bed hospital (with obstetric gynaecology surgical medical and paediatric departments). There is also a Rehab department for children where mainly children with cerebral palsy are seen but also other children with disabilities. There is a clubfoot program and assistive devices are produced on location.

The project is seeking a physiotherapist or occupational therapist who can support the rehab team with training and with the management of patients with needs outside of the normal problems.

Physiotherapist or Occupational Therapist. Some clinical experience is preferred

Medical Students

South Asia / Medical / Health / 1-11 months / Job ID: 721

This started as a community health and development project expanded to include a hospital and now has training and research departments. Their wholistic health approach works for spiritual physical social and emotional transformation.

Duties would include participation (under staff supervision) in all the daily activities of ward rounds outpatient clinics surgery and emergency calls. Participants would develop skills in history-taking (through available translation) physical examination appropriate lab x-ray evaluation and differential diagnoses in a rural hospital context as well as common procedures and would assist in surgeries when possible. There would be opportunity to study the diseases and conditions encountered each day especially those endemic to developing countries and most importantly be a model of Christian compassion in attitudes and actions toward patients and staff.

Qualifying participants will be enrolled in the final year of an accredited medical school in their country of origin and have a personal commitment to Christ and a desire to be involved in advancing his kingdom.

Designer/marketing consultant

Bangladesh / Business / 12-23 months, 2+ years / Job ID: 772

At this social enterprise in Bangladesh women gain job skills develop into leaders and entrepreneurs and experience Biblical values lived out. The business provides full time dignified employment to these women at high risk for trafficking.

The ideal candidate should be able to identify local and unique design elements design new products assist in brand / website developmentcopywriting and social media activities and design marketing materials.

Graphic design experience would be an advantage. S/he will practise a mature sound Christian faith. Because the job entails working with very vulnerable women a female would be the ideal candidate for this position though a male candidate would be considered.

Operations manager / mentor

Bangladesh / Administration / 12-23 months, 2+ years / Job ID: 804

At this social enterprise in Dhaka Bangladesh women gain job skills develop into leaders and entrepreneurs and experience Biblical values lived out. The business provides full-time dignified employment to these women at high risk for trafficking.

The Operations Manager will provide assistance in administration staff mentoring product development community-building and strategic planning. Some travel may be required.

The qualified individual will be committed to missional business pursuing excellence creativity and witness through prayer compassion and hard work. S/he will practise a mature sound Christian faith.

Sales Coordinator

South Asia / Business / 1-11 months, 12-23 months, 2+ years / Job ID: 1325

Through dignified work this organisation provides a sustainable livelihood for women at risk and survivors of trafficking. Women gain job skills and the opportunity to develop into leaders and entrepreneurs in a healthy healing environment.

The Sales Coordinator will be involved in many aspects of sales including market analysis design and implementation of procedures to streamline processes communication with suppliers and customers assisting with pricing strategies working with the accounts department and creating content for sales newsletters.

Applicants should be committed to business as mission and the pursuit of excellence be able to work well as part of a team and encourage others and have good organisational skills. A degree in sales or marketing and previous experience are required as is a mature Christian faith.

Teachers

South Asia / Education / 12-23 months / Job ID: 299

This International school supports the educational needs of a wide variety of expatriates and nationals and is committed to core values that make up the FaCES of Grace: Faith Collaboration Excellence and Service.The school maintains small classes of 18-20 students within a stimulating learning environment enabling children of all abilities to flourish.

The school is looking for teachers (early years and primary) able to teach to the British National Curriculum (primary school) and international GCSEs. The school is also looking for a Secondary English Teacher and a Secondary PE Teacher/Sports Coordinator.

We follow a modified version of the English National Curriculum providing support to all teachers who are new to this system.

Educationalist/Teacher Trainer

South Asia / Education / 2+ years / Job ID: 1597

This Early Childhood Education Centre was established with the desire and vision to improve the quality of Preschool and Primary School teaching in this country. We believe that every child has the right to and should have the privilege of adequate and child-centered education. Expatriates work closely with a local Advisory Board consisting of experienced and professional people. They felt the need for training for teachers to lay a better foundation for education for young children.

We are looking for a skilled Teacher Trainer. A good teacher can have great influence on a childs character skills development behavior and values. Young children are tactile learners. They are inquisitive and need to explore and experiment. Play and hands-on experience are the most effective ways of learning at that age.

A Masters in Education is required for this position. Early childhood is not a time for rote learning but for practical activities and play. If children are forced to study beyond their interest areas and readiness stages they will not enjoy school. They may develop negative feelings towards books and formal education. Learning must be fun

Medical doctor

South Asia / Medical / Health / 2+ years / Job ID: 1596

The organisation strives to help all national women and men achieve a fuller and more satisfying life. There are many opportunities for expatriates from different countries to contribute their professional skills.

Community Medical Officer/General Practitioner. We are looking for a Medical Doctor with experience in public health to cooperatively work with the hospital and community health section in regards to the vision and strategy of the hospital as a whole taking responsibility for overall development and continuation of the referral system TB DOTS programme HIV/AIDS programmes health education programme nutrition rehabilitation center and maternal and child health clinic

Applicants must currently be registered with the national regulating body in their own country.