In the biblical text, the Lord tells the prophet Elijah there will be neither dew nor rain and a famine ensues. He sends him to a brook where he is cared for by a group of ravens who bring the prophet meat and bread every morning and evening. But eventually the brook dries up, so the Lord instructs him to go to Zarephath.
Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.” “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”
This is a meal plan I cannot fathom. This mother is forced to think of the unimaginable. A last meal. Yet when a stranger asks her to share what little remains, how does she respond?
She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.”
Time and time again, in Scripture, in history, when there is a need, women show up. And God provides.
On November 1 of last year, my first day as Executive Director of Baptist World Alliance Women, we celebrated Baptist Women’s World Day of Prayer. We received photos and videos from around the world. One of those messages was from a group of women in Ukraine. The emphasis for the day’s celebration?
What does it mean to be a brave woman?
A poignant question and one that Ukrainian women have had to answer over the course of the last year. When we saw the rising tensions along the border between Ukraine and Russia, I joined with leaders from European Baptist Women United in reaching out to women’s ministry leaders in both countries. I was able to set up a solidarity call with the ministry leader who had shared the photos just months before. During the call, she shared with BWA Women leaders that she had family in the United States but remained committed to stay where God has called her. She said, “Whatever news we hear or whatever may come, we will serve the Lord.” She also said that bravery might change with bombs falling. Sadly, less than 24 hours later, the news around the world told the sad tale of a full-scale invasion by land and attacks by air and sea. I immediately reached out to check on her safety, and she responded, “I am safe, but I woke to the sound of artillery falling. I can feel the tremors in the building.”