“He feels compassion for the weak and the needy, and he will rescue them. He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious to him.” – Psalm 72:13-14
We saw this verse at work through our adult literacy class, which recently graduated at the end of July after 6 months of diligent study. Most of the students were taken out of school in first or second grade in Nicaragua, through no fault of their own, by parents who didn’t see the value of educating them or needed them to work at home. And thus, a long road of oppression and violence began.
Illiteracy made them vulnerable. They were taken advantage of by others, financially, legally, vocationally, and socially. They were mocked and humiliated for not having a basic life skill that someone else decided they wouldn’t have. They were treated unkindly by that clerk who needed them to fill out paperwork or sign something. They were treated as less than by that neighbor whom they asked to read bills or letters for them. This was their life: darkness, ignorance, and vulnerability before the unscrupulous.
One of our star students, Karla, was robbed for years by her own husband, who would make withdrawals from the bank for her and keep some for himself, since she was unable to complete the transaction herself or even read the receipt. He told her she was too dumb to learn to read, that she would never be able to do it, and ramped up the persecution when she signed up for our class. He started an affair to punish her for seeking liberation through literacy. And he refused to come and see her graduate when she proved him wrong about her abilities.
Karla’s life is a shocking story to those of us in the developed world. But it’s symptomatic of the poverty and patriarchy in the developing world. Around the world, the first act of violence against a woman is frequently the act of choosing not to educate her—putting her at a deficit on the playing field of life so that she is dependent on others. This enforced vulnerability only leads to greater oppression and violence throughout her life. (This is why we prioritize keeping children, particularly girls, in school. If you want to sponsor a student to protect children from lifelong violence and oppression, click here to go to our sponsorship page.)
Those of us in the first world can smugly look from the outside and say, “she is poor because she made bad choices.” But the reality is that bad choices were made FOR her, and she has merely reaped the consequences by following the path made for her. And it all started with a lack of education that robbed her of the autonomy to make real choices at all.
But here is the good news: her life is precious to God. He redeems and rescues. He sends opportunities so that she CAN make good choices for herself. He liberates.
Karla’s story continues. She is putting her new reading skills to good use. She has now taken a municipal training course on mediation and peacemaking in communities. She is in our current Jobs for Life course, making a plan for her future educational and vocational development. And she is already studying with us to take her 6th grade exams and get her primary certificate, with plans to continue on to secondary. She says she has been freed from the control and manipulation of others and gives glory to God for this work in her life. Indeed, her life is precious to Him and He is doing a work of redemption.
Quote of the month
""At the margins is the only place the Church will have credibility."