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Lyn Cooke lives in Arua, north west Uganda. She shares with us about her ministry amongst women, opportunities that have opened up and the positive impact of the workshops she helps run.
Second class citizens
I work with Alice, a Ugandan pastor at Madi West Nile diocese in the women’s office. We travel around the diocese meeting and teaching the women. Many of the women feel like second class citizens and are unable to express themselves. Things are gradually changing in some areas but there is still the feeling that the girl child should be at home helping and the boy child should be the one educated.
One of the things we do is train church teachers and pastors’ wives. Many of them have been at home until they married and have not had any training at all. They see their role only as looking after their husband and children. We seek to show them that God has called them to work in partnership with their husbands and that there are ways in which they can be used to help their congregation and community.
Joyce is a church teacher’s wife who has attended one of the workshops that Lyn helps run. Here she shares about the impact they have had on her life.
‘I wanted to share my appreciation of the workshops for church teachers’ wives because they have opened our eyes to see how God can use us. The topic of counselling was new to us. We never thought that we were capable of doing anything like this. I now feel confident to chat and help people in need particularly when they come to the door and my husband is not around. This will enable me to help the people in my community and parish when needed particularly to prepare young people for marriage and girls for motherhood. Before attending these workshops I feared getting involved in ministry and I just saw myself as keeping home and caring for the children. I did not see myself in partnership with my husband or that God had called me as well. In my home I did not know about Christian parenting properly. I actually gambled a lot and this means that some of my children have not been able to attend school. I wish I had been challenged earlier about these things but I know God is able to change me now.’
A wonderful privilege
We regularly arrange workshops at the archdeaconries. Attendance is very positive and we often have around 100 ladies, many who have walked for many hours to get there. Some of the things we teach are how to lead a prayer meeting and Bible study with the ladies of their church, how to be a good leader, and parenting. We do a follow up later to see how things are going and to answer any question or deal with any problems they may have encountered.
The Ugandan Christian University runs a degree course for pastors. Alongside this they run a course for the wives. I teach Old and New Testament studies to the wives once a week. This has been a wonderful privilege for me as I see the ladies grow in confidence and have a better understanding of God’s Word. It is two way, as they are also teaching me a lot about culture and how they cope looking after the family while studying, which is a new experience for many of them.
About eighteen months ago God opened up an opportunity for us to do an Alpha course at the local ladies’ prison. Our visits have continued weekly and we now go and share with the ladies and pray with them.