My story is not my own. It is the Lord’s. He has authored my life, he has rewritten the ugly and brought together all the broken pieces to make things beautiful. I wanted to write about why I want to work with women in their transition to motherhood, but to illustrate why, I must begin with the story of my own mother.
My mom was 22 when she conceived me. Though she and my dad weren’t married, they were madly in love. My mom had never really desired to be a mom. She spent most of her life taking care of her 5 younger siblings and watched her mom go through so much at such a young age. Becoming a mom would cost her the freedom that she fought so long and hard to have. But there she was, unexpectedly pregnant with an unexpected gift growing in her belly. At times I imagine all the emotions she must have gone through. Being 22 and unmarried myself, I imagine I would’ve been anxious and incredibly overwhelmed. But when I asked my mom about her pregnancy she said it was peaceful. I think it’s God’s kindness that we can feel so terrified and yet so at peace at the same time in the midst of God’s will unraveling itself before our eyes.
By the time I was 3 months old, my dad, who was maybe more overwhelmed than he was willing to admit, decided he wanted to leave my mom and that he couldn’t commit to marrying her. He left my mom, 23 now, with a new baby and a broken heart. Over the next few months she learned to survive, she learned to take on her new role with confidence, but there was only one thing that could truly ground her and heal her heart, which was a relationship with her Creator. In the midst of all of this she was met by Jesus and she surrendered everything to him. She surrendered me, her relationship with my dad and her own life to the One who loves her most in this world.
In her surrender, God redeemed her story. He worked in my dad’s heart so that they could reconcile and get married. He gave me a beautiful little sister to love and do life with. He gave my parents incredible ministry and job opportunities. We were always taken care of and more than anything we were always loved. Because of the love that Jesus showed my mom in a difficult time in her life, I have never been apart from the love He has for all of us.
I never considered her story a part of my own until recently. During my Discipleship Training School I had become so passionate and marked by the stories of pregnant women and mothers all around the world who were incredibly mistreated and undervalued. I thought about what a vulnerable time it was for both the mother and the baby and how beautiful it must be to be a vessel for life into this world. And then I started to remember my own mother, how vulnerable her and I both were. I even remembered the anxiety I felt as a baby, not knowing where my home was, only knowing the comfort of my own mother’s arms. And I thought about how kind God was to us in those times, to bring the two halves of my home back together and to heal the wounds in my mother’s heart. He wanted me to know a motherly love that was true and constant. That is what I want for the rest of the world.
I look at other women in different countries; pregnant teens, vulnerable women, unmarried women - and I see my mother. I look at those little babies, brought into a world that is so eager to defeat the light and joy placed inside them - and I see myself. Perhaps it may be a little selfish to look at it like this, but I see it as a deep compassion. I carry a deep connection to these mothers and these women because I carry a piece of their story with me. I look at them and I wonder if their mothers ever loved them unconditionally. I wonder where their love for their babies comes from. I wonder how they continue to love with a world of hate constantly coming against them. I wonder how God wants me to serve them. I wonder what pieces of their heart need to be reconciled with their Heavenly Father. I wonder if they know they are a treasure, a prize, a mother of nations and heir to an eternal kingdom.
I wonder about these things because I want to be part of it. I want all women to know the truth about who they are. I want to put to death the lie that women aren’t capable of being mothers unless they meet a certain criteria. I want to spit in the enemy's face for lying to women for centuries about their value and purpose. I want to see women glow and thrive in motherhood. I want to see their children carry their mother's love like a badge of honor. I want to see mothers learn how to trust men again and fight for unity within their family. I want to see a world where children aren’t lost or abandoned but they are embraced and cared for unconditionally, the way God loves and cares for us.
The good news is God is already doing this for women all around the world. There are incredible ministries and organizations that have made this their mission, to see mothers cared for with all the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs we can help with. Midwives and nurses are being sent out to places in Asia, Africa, South America, the Middle East and more so that women aren’t dying due to easily preventable issues. All these women need is someone willing, someone who sees them, and someone to fight for them when no one else seems to care.
According to the World Health Organization 800 women a day die due to preventable causes in pregnancy or childbirth. This means that almost every two minutes a maternal death occurs. From these deaths almost 95% of them occur in low and lower-middle income countries. The bible has over 2000 verses about helping, loving and serving the most vulnerable. 1 John 3:16 says...
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
In addition, the quality of life for these women who do survive their birth, is often extremely poor. In Colombia alone, 1 in 5 teenagers experience being pregnant. This often brings about so many other issues, like not being able to provide for the baby, many women abandoning their children to contribute to the orphan crisis where they are often trafficked and sold for sex/and or slavery. If they don’t give up their baby, they will give up their body and find work in prostitution to support the babies. Simultaneously, in 2021 there were 16,000 reported cases of sexual assault against underage girls, a majority of them being 10-14 years old. This teaches girls very early on that their body is not their own, they have no autonomy and it is meant to be shared with whoever.
Rather than continuing to trap these women in a vicious cycle of pain and offer these temporary band aids to their pain, or even horrifying realities like abortion, we must take them back to the beginning. We can remind each woman that she is a daughter, worthy to be loved unconditionally and celebrated for the beauty that resides deep within her soul. We show this with our actions, showing up for them when they need it the most, showing kindness and friendship when they feel casted out of society.
In Genesis, Adam calls Eve “Eve” because she is the mother of all the living. All women are capable and designed to mother in some capacity, whether with our own biological children, or with dreams and passions and projects, or for other women’s children, or even spiritual daughters and sons. There is no end to the motherhood that flows in us. Motherhood shows itself in our compassion, our vulnerability, our presence. Women are not valuable for what we do but simply who we are.
I am unfathomably grateful for everything God has done for me and my family. Out of the abundance of love He has poured out on me, I simply cannot remain idle. For the past few months and the next few years, my focus is to equip myself with proper training and education to give these women the best care possible. I’ve met with several midwives, nurses and missionaries who are passionate about seeing these issues change drastically over the next few years from a local to global scale. Last year I got to collaborate with a women’s pastor in Barranquilla, Colombia on an imaginary project that would implement education on sex, reproductive health, and puberty for girls in Barranquilla as well as offer one on one mentorship with midwives, doulas and some of the expectant mothers in the low-income neighborhoods.
Next quarter I’ll be focusing on getting my certifications as a birth doula and in childbirth education while working with the nonprofit pregnancy center here in Kona. I will be learning from other women who have worked in maternal health and missions for years and continue to seek God for guidance, dreams and direction. After this I’ll get to spend 3-5 months in Guinea Bissau, Africa to serve at their pregnancy center that they make available to the women in the local villages. I’m praying to learn from the directors and women that have been pioneering in this community and what they’ve learned and all the fruit that they have seen in areas of maternal health.
I feel so privileged to be on this journey. It feels so incredibly unreal that I get to do this with my little time here on earth. I would not want to spend it doing anything else. I’m grateful also for all my friends and family who have prayed for me and supported me through all this change and transition. This is just the start to something unfathomably wonderful. Thank you Jesus