The week of Thanksgiving, we received a wonderful report from Margaret Kiswiriri, President of Empower/Uganda, about her recent work.
Yesterday, however, we were shocked and profoundly saddened to receive word that Margaret suffered a stroke, and a few days later, went to join our Lord. She passed away on December 1.
Margaret has been an amazing part of Empower from the very beginning. She also worked with other groups such as Christians for Biblical Equality and LifeTogether, all to improve the treatment of women in her country.
She was at the very first training that Carrie Miles did in Kampala, Uganda, 2005; was elected president of Empower/Uganda by her fellow workers in 2008; and has worked tirelessly to spread the Good News of man and woman, together, united and equal in Christ. We do not know what we will do without her.
It is in profound gratitude that we will dedicate Empower’s work in 2017 to the memory of Margaret.
Here is her last report, which gives some of the key points of discussion from a New Man, New Woman, New Life seminar held for the Anglican Church Fathers’ Union in Kampala on October 22.
Below are the points that were raised during the discussions at the Fathers’ Union seminar. (Understanding the culture shows just how radical the message of equality and mutuality is to Christians in Uganda).
1) African boys grow up understanding that AFRICAN WOMEN MUST SUBMIT TO THEIR HUSBANDS.
2) Boys also grow up knowing that girls have to do the work at home, while the boys play football with other boys.
3) From a very long ago time, during the ceremony for giving away the girl in marriage, the families prepare gifts that all center on the girl pleasing her husband: She will receive a beautiful container for his milk, a stool for when he comes home (he stretches out his feet on it and she will remove his shoes), and so many other things that make the girl know that she will serve the man.
One of the class members, who treated his wife differently that custom decreed (with kindness and respect), told us a story: His two sisters came to visit after he had been married for about two years. He and his wife were happy to receive them, but after one night they started to say things, which he had expected all along.
“Brother, you have neglected us, what do you think?” they asked him. “Will your wife become a sister to you instead of us?”
Then he answered them, “My sisters, I know that you are my sisters. That is why I never married you. Now I give you advice to go and mind your husband’s business and demand what you want (i.e., that your husbands treat you the way I treat my wife), because that’s the right thing to do.”
There were a lot of arguments and disbelief during the discussions, especially on the points that the man was with Eve when she took the fruit (Genesis 3:6) , and that the people were not cursed. And then there came the study on submission. (That is it mutual, as it says in Ephesians 5:21, “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Submission cannot be demanded, that is, it is not the same as oppression or being subjected to someone.)
Despite the participants’ initial disbelief, thank GOD that things can change slowly. At the seminar, despite initial resistance, this teaching was received openly in the end.