TELLING THE STORY OF WOMEN AT GOLGOTHA AND BEYOND
…an urgent appeal to give voice to God’s work through Women
If you have an opportunity to write about your Dad and Mum who Will you write about and why?
On Good Friday I invited you to take a look at the strategic role storytellers placed in helping us know, experience, and appreciate what Jesus Christ went through to pay the full price for our redemption. Reflecting further I discovered that they indeed trod unpopular path in their day leaving with a heritage to follow as a storyteller of our day. They wrote about Women at Golgotha and beyond.
Why is this significant? To write the story of the cross of Christ and ignore to tell the story of roles played by women is to give the world a half story and not portray the salvation story well. The cross is God’s redeeming tool for the whole of humanity. He came to save both the man and the female man. You limit the scope of its impact if you fail to tell the story of women at Golgotha.
My experience recently in reading history possibly impact me especially as regards telling the story of women. In a virtual reading community, I initiated last year tagged Read a Book a Week Community where we seek to promote the reading of God’s word and books; February 2021 focus was on the history of Nigeria and how to make Nigeria great.
So, we got books that focus on stories around Nigeria’s independence, the first toppling of leadership by the military, and the Nigerian Civil war.
Reading and reviewing Oil, Politics, and Violence by Max Siollun; Soldier of Fortune by Max Siollun; There was a country by Chinua Achebe; the real story of Nigeria; a documentary by Jide Olanrewaju, and How to make Nigeria the greatest country in the world by Sunday Adelaja was an eye-opening experience for me, members of the virtual community and those who cared to join us in the journey.
The writers of the Nigerian history told stories of great men who fought for the independence of our nation; their dreams, passions, and commitment to building a great nation. Clear in the stories were colonial men who were in Nigeria and the role they played. We also saw those whose role took the country backward instead of moving her forward.
We saw how some of the things playing now in our country were also there at the begging of the journey. But reading through the entire story especially along the line of history we discovered a great missing link. Women were not captured in most of the stories.
It was a huge discovery for most of the young people in the group too. No mention or detail report was made of women and the role they played in securing Nigeria’s independence and pulling through the forceful change in leadership and the civil war even though they were most affected.
The truth is a man taking action has several women in his life. He will have a wife and mother and daughter and for some concubines who will always be affected by their action or inaction.
At first, I thought it was an omission in this telling of the story but after a look further at the history of Africa before the coming of the colonial masters, I discovered that only a few women like Queen Amina of Zauzau and others were captured. And as a missionary child and married man of over ten years who have seen the role played by his mother in the missions’ field and the present role being played by my dear wife in our ministry journey the great injustice played in telling the story of Nigeria became more real and a thing of great concern.
This reality is possibly shaped by looking at the scriptures as I reflect on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ through the lens of the storytellers. I saw that they were different. They were balanced.
I saw a level of justice in telling their story. I saw a holistic approach to storytelling. Reading through what they wrote and knowing the context in which they told their story I could not but celebrate them.
You see, the Jewish culture was a highly patriarchal where women are treated as properties and even not counted as part of the number. Think about when Jesus Christ feed the five thousand and the four thousand men were the only ones that were counted women and children were lumped together as a number.
Women hardly have a role to play in decision making even to talk of leading. It was just male-dominant culture like most of our cultures in Africa. Yet, the storytellers dared to write what Women did and their role in the birth, upbringing, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the savior.
They started by mentioning women in Jesus’ genealogy; move on to tell how a young virgin was God’s channel for bringing Christ to the world and the role an older woman played in helping her stabilize. Anna the Prophetess who prophesied about the coming of Christ and was in the temple for years expecting the coming of Christ was also captured in their story.
The storytellers in writing about the ministry of Jesus Christ were intentional in sharing the roles played by various Women and how Jesus Christ engaged them and also reached out to them. You will read more about Mary the mother of Jesus Christ than Joseph who played the role of the Father.
The story of the young girl who was brought to life by Jesus Christ; Mary Magdalene who seven demons were cast out of her life; Martha and Mary the Sisters of Lazarus and Jesus’ friends; the Woman with the issue of blood who touched him and he stood still.
As if that was not enough, they also told stories of women at the time Jesus Christ was crucified. Starting from the night of his arrest. They reported how a young girl was pointing out to Peter as one of Jesus’ disciples and how King Pilates wife could not sleep because of a dream she had in the night about Jesus’ innocence. Salome the wife of Zebedee and mother of the two “Sons of Thunder”, James and John were one of those women who stood and watch how Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross and the agony and pains he went through before giving up his spirit.
Mary Magdalene did not only stop at watching Christ crucified but also followed them to know the tomb where Jesus Christ was buried with a plan to come back and anoint him. Mary of Nazareth the Mother of Jesus Christ was also right there at Golgotha to watch the child entrusted to her and the one she has nurtured and seen become the person that God desired nailed to the cross.
The storytellers also told us that Jesus Christ recognized their presence at Golgotha when he told John the beloved to take care of his mother.
On the resurrection morning, on Easter Sunday like the one we are celebrating today, they told how women were there early in the morning to anoint the body of Jesus Christ and how they were wondering who will roll the stone for them. Only on getting there, they saw that the stone has been rolled away. On rushing instead, they could not find his body but thank God for the presence of an angel who calms their fears amid fear.
He told them ‘why are they looking for the living among the dead?”’ Jesus Christ is not here but risen just the way he told them he will. He then commissioned them to go and tell the disciples that Jesus Christ will meet them in Galilee.
One of the storytellers took it further by sharing how Mary Magdalene was desperate about seeing the body of Jesus Christ that the risen Christ had to come back to reassure her that he was risen and need to report to the father before coming back. Her exclamation of Raboni on sighting him, a testament to the level of their relationship and a deep concern to see Jesus Christ. And indeed, they took the news of the resurrection back to the disciples telling them that the Lord has risen just as he promised.
Beyond Golgotha and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the storytellers also told us the role women played in the early Church. You will come across Women like Dorcas, Priscilla, Eunice, and several others who lead the way in building the body of Christ.
Imagine what the story of the cross of Christ would have been if the story of these great women who were eyewitnesses and key players were not told or written down? How would we have known the innocence of Jesus Christ if they did not tell us about the sleepless night of Pilates and her courage to tell her husband the King? Imagine the missing the gap that would have come with the story of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
We deprive the world of a deep and great portion of God’s attribute and the amazing work he is doing through the cross of Christ if we don’t tell the story of God’s work through the hands of women.
The Bible storytellers dared the consequences in a culture that seem to have no place for women to tell us what God did through them. We could read what they did and what Jesus Christ went through because they dared to tell the role women played before, during, and after Golgotha.
What will be said of our generation tomorrow if people read about what the Cross of Jesus Christ is doing in our time? What will be said about the great women in the mission fields reaching out to souls? The women in our Churches praying and investing in the transformation of lives?
The women in seminaries investing in training pastors and church leaders? The women in the political and marketplace arena leading change? The mother who raised great men and women who are changing the world? What about the women in the lives of all the great men leading change around the world?
Ignore women in telling the stories of God’s amazing work in the world and you share a half story with the world and nothing is as dangerous as that. You make the work of the cross ineffective.
So, as you reflect over Jesus’ resurrection today, I invite you to be intentional about telling what God is doing through women in your generation. If the early storytellers could stand up to tell the story of women in a culture that has no place for them, we have no excuse not to tell the story of what God is doing through women in our day.
Here are practical things to do to tell the story of women and what God is doing a result of Christ cross in their lives in our generation:
- Study again the ministry of Jesus Christ and see how he created space for women and also his intentionally for a holistic engagement;
- Research into the contribution of women in your family, community, Church, and nation. Report or write something about this no matter how little. Whatever you write will surely outlive you;
- Daily observe and document intentionally as the Bible storytellers did the contribution of women and their active participation in advancing the Kingdom of God;
- Don’t only ask about your grandfather ask also about your grandmother and what she did great while alive and write to tell it to your children;
- Do a story of your mother and father. Be intentional in telling what your mother did as you tell the story to the world;
- Engage writers and storytellers to write about ordinary women who are living extraordinary lives for God in the world;
- Be a model of sharing the stories of women like these storytellers at Golgotha;
- Be inclusive in whatever you do especially in sharing the story of Women and their contribution to kingdom work and more
If God has decided that a woman takes the seed from a man for nine months; gives birth, nurtures the child and plays other significant roles in shaping human being; then we deprive the world a great deal of God’s work and it details in the life of people if we don’t give women a voice by telling their stories.
If God can entrust women with the responsibilities of caring for human beings at a point where their lives are fragile then we will have been godly like if we tell the story of women to this generation and the ones to come.
You cheat the next generation if you only tell them what men did in your generation or about the cross of Christ. It is time to change the story.
Today as you mark Easter Sunday Kindly do a short write-up about one woman in your life that God has used to shape you.
Hankuri Tawus Gaya
4th April, 2021