MONTREUX, Switzerland/GENEVA - "Women are partners and not instruments of God in bringing healing to our hurting world," Dr Musimbi Kanyoro, General Secretary, World Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), told participants in the first preparatory consultation prior to the 2003 LWF Tenth Assembly.
The pre-assembly, the first in a series of seven similar consultations before the 21-31 July 2003 Assembly, is organized by the Women in Church and Society (WICAS) desk of the LWF Department for Mission and Development (DMD).
Kanyoro, former WICAS Secretary, urged women to subscribe neither to a victim mentality nor regard themselves as instruments of the church but as "active agents of change" * even in the face of war, increasing poverty and the staggering figures and realities of HIV/AIDS.
In her presentation she provided the social context for the pre-assembly and assembly theme, "For the Healing of the World" while Rev. Dr Isabelle Graessle, Moderator of the Protestant in Geneva, introduced the 60 representatives of LWF member churches to a theological understanding of healing.
Graessle referred to the Bible story of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19) who asked Jesus Christ for help. Jesus healed all ten in the sense of becoming physically healthy and reintegrated into the social and religious community. But only one returned, "raising God in a loud voice." The tenth person, Graessle said, experienced something that went beyond healing, namely resurrection - a kind of confidence enabling him to "go on a new road."
This kind of healing has been taking place at meetings of Lutheran women during the past years, Kanyoro stressed. International meetings of women have been instrumental as self-healing processes by providing opportunities of sharing local and personal experiences, networking and empowerment, providing women with information on social and political issues and by "translating our individual domestic and private troubles into public policies."
Women who meet as global partners have experienced a transformation of powerlessness into the power to change, and are therefore well equipped to reach out to those in society who are still powerless. The language of Christian women should therefore reflect the spiritual aspect of healing. While Lutheran women are deeply committed to the language of human rights they should always add the spiritual aspect of the language of healing of the world and thus give it an added value, said Kanyoro.
Although the world is full of wars, increasing poverty, hunger and the HIV/AIDS pandemic has reached a level of an "incomparable human catastrophe," Kanyoro reminded listeners that this world "opens up new unknown opportunities to bring back spirituality into our lives while searching for answers." That ecumenical prayers and inter-faith gatherings are increasingly taking place all over the world; churches have started working together against the spread of HIV/AIDS and are organizing common response to threat of war against Iraq are a examples of such hope.
Concluding her presentation, Kanyoro asked leaders within the women's movements to ensure that sufficient young women are trained for leadership positions to create room for young adults "to come in at all levels of women's movements."
By Larry B. Stammer