Editor’s Note: Today is International Women’s Day. Empowering women starts right in our families, workplaces, and neighborhoods. Celebrate today by writing a note of thanks, by being of service, or by encouraging a special woman in your life. We are excited to share a beautiful story for our WOV Lenten “Beauty from Ashes” series about how God is working in the life of Annie Kaseketi Mwaba, World Vision’s Project Trainer and Mentor for the Channels of Hope program. Annie is based in Lusaka, Zambia where she advocates for Church Partnership on Gender and Development. Here she shares how God brought great Beauty out of Ashes in her own life.
Lord, my life is not be like a golden vessel that earthly kings eat from
My life is not like the silver vase that holds the queens rose
My life is like a clay jar
Shattered to the ground by storms of life
Lord, I take each one of these broken pieces
Place them in your hand
Make this broken jar whole again
Hold it in your hand
Fill it with healing oil to pour in the hearts of the hurting
This prayer I wrote on May 27, 1999 three months after my husband’s death. Before Charles died, we had lost a son and two daughters; here I was with two small children. My future seemed hopeless and my past too dark to revisit. I thought I had experienced the worst until I lost my fourth child in January 2003, and in that same year found out that I am HIV positive. In that season of my life’s journey nothing made sense. I held on but to one conviction: I had not accomplished what God had put me on earth for. How I knew, I don’t know, except that I had a strong conviction that there were things that I needed to do that I hadn’t done yet. Jeremiah 1 4-5. Long before these dark years, in my quiet times, there were some things I strongly felt God had called me to and I had not seen those yet.
When my family visited me I would say “don’t worry I am not dying.” They were concerned and asked me to let go – I had been through so much there was no need to live, I was dying, why hold on to life? Even with their permission to die, there was ONE greater than my confusion and pain and He knew the plans He had for me, He did not give up on me!
In December 2003, I declared my HIV status from the pulpit after preaching. This was no easy step to take in a society where HIV was associated to promiscuity, not only as a woman but a church leader. I have never regretted that step because what I experienced that day and in the years to come was that my breaking the silence gave permission to other to talk about issues and challenges they otherwise would have not.
Channels of Hope for HIV helped me with valuable information on HIV and now Channels of Hope for Gender has liberated me in knowing beyond doubt that I am valuable as a woman created in the image of God. My HIV status does and cannot change how God looks at me – His beloved daughter!
I have travelled nations carrying this torch of HOPE. Nothing can compare with the joy of seeing another woman smile as He uses my experience to give another hope. It is priceless. God is able to restore even when all around seem dead and hopeless - He is GOD.
by Annie Kaseketi Mwaba, Church Partnership on Gender and Development, World Vision International