7 The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”
“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.
9 Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”
11 The angel of the Lord also said to her:
“You are now pregnant
and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
for the Lord has heard of your misery.
13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
Genesis 16: 7-13
The story of Hagar is one that hits home for many of the women that we serve in our communities.
In August last year, sixty-six year old Sidudla Simelane joined CAST when a concerned neighbour told her that it was where she could seek help out of her dire situation. She has lost both her children, one due to illness, the other tragically killed. Neither of their fathers present in their lives.
Sidudla, herself, suffered the loss of her parents at an early age and was raised by an abusive aunt who passed away when Sidudla was 16. Her only surviving family, a cousin in Hammarsdale, did not want to help her.
From this point, Sidudla had no choice but to support herself by working on plantations, ploughing. She was paid R250 ($18,80) per month until the owner of the plantation hired her as a domestic worker where she remained for 32 years.
For decades, Sidudla felt great anger and resentment toward her family, particularly her aunt and cousin. Looking back, she now realizes that it was they who were in the dark. “The earth is rotating,” she says. “You never know what will happen.”
Joining the CAST support group at West City Fellowship has given her hope; she has gained valuable skills in handwork, and looks forward to this time of bonding with the other ladies who attend, many of whom look up to her as a role model and servant of God.
“I used to sometimes think that there was no God,” she says. “CAST healed me.”
While this story is one that speaks of hope and healing, we cannot ignore the devastating reality that many women in this country face – a life of abandonment and abuse that can only be overcome through the support of those who recognize the overwhelming need to empower the women in our lives.
Questions to ponder:
- What does it mean to you to be an “empowered woman” in today’s world?
- What does it mean to you to be an “empowered woman” in Christianity? – is there a difference in your response?