“He replied to him, ‘Who is my mother and who are my brothers?’ Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.'” Matthew 12:48-50
Have you ever thought about what Jesus meant when he asked this? In Luke’s gospel Jesus is quoted as saying, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” Luke 8:21. Jesus was talking about His spiritual family. We also have a spiritual family.
This Sunday we will celebrate our own mothers, grandmothers and other women who have been important in our lives. I would challenge you to consider remembering your spiritual mothers throughout Christ’s kingdom on this special day also.
There are many similarities between mothers in our first world, and those in the developing world, such as loving their children more than them selves and making sacrifices for their families. However, I think we can all agree that sacrifices can be more difficult where resources are significantly less. In South Sudan, this is very much the case. Just providing food and water for a family is all consuming. The responsibility of these daily necessities for the family are completely born by the mothers.
A little girl is expected to begin working at a very young age. When she is strong enough, she is expected to care for an infant sibling. The baby is carried constantly in a goat skin on the girl’s shoulder. When the infant is able to sit up, the girl carries the baby on her hip. She is also expected to assist her mother in the family garden, as well as helping with meal preparation. Gathering firewood, shelling ground nuts, pounding sorghum and grinding maize are necessary each day for the family’s survival.
Water is carried from a well which may be an hour’s walk from the home. It is culturally unacceptable for males to fetch water in South Sudan. Therefore, all the water needed for the average family of 6 is brought by girls and women. In South Sudan the temperature can reach 120 degrees. A lot of trips to the well are required each day to sustain the family and animals.
When a relative delivers a newborn, and has no female child to assist in her home, a young girl from the family will be sent to live with the new mother until the child is weaned, at about 3 years of age.
Traditionally, a daughter is considered eligible for marriage soon after her first menses begin. (The government is working on prevention of such early marriages, but the practice continues in the rural villages.) Potential husbands negotiate with the father of the girl. Typically, the man that offers the most cows is awarded the bride. Often the groom is considerably older than the bride, as he likely has more cows to offer than a younger man. He may have had daughters who were already married, which would allow him to acquire more cattle.
When the bride’s tukel (conical shaped mud house) is completed constructed and ready for her to move into, she is expected to assume all the responsibilities that her mother previously demonstrated. She is expected to begin to produce as many children as humanly possible.
As overworked as they are, the women in the 8 communities where LWCT ministers, look forward to the the day of the week when they meet with their sisters and mothers for Bible study, prayer, and fellowship.
A great transformation has taken place over the last 11 years, since the first women’s meeting took place in 2007. Nearly 800 women are participating weekly. Many are taking advantage of the literacy classes, sewing school, and gardening projects. Women from the earlier groups are teaching Bible lessons, leading school devotions, and operating small businesses. Of our 789 primary students today, 33% are girls. Several of our primary school teachers are female. The status of women has been elevated in our communities. To God be the glory!
Jesus said, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
Luke 8:21. Would you like to help provide a better life for a “mother”? Please consider making a donation to Living Water Community Transformation. What a great way to honor your earthly or spiritual mother, or maybe one who is already in heaven.
Donations can be made online at www.livingwaterct.org
or by mailing a check to
Living Water CT
230 Sydney Dr
Goodlettsville, TN 37072