Women of Liberia meet Naomi and Ruth

Any author will tell you—letters from readers can be priceless. At least the positive ones.

This week I received two on Facebook from readers of The Gospel of Ruth that contained the kind of encouragement that keeps me going.

If you aren’t familiar with The Gospel of Ruth or haven’t yet read it, I hope their words will inspire you to read it. 

The first message came from a pastor who described The Gospel of Ruth as “the best commentary on Ruth I have ever read,” adding that it “was used powerfully in my life by God” and that it was currently in his book bag to take to his prayer-and-accountability partner who had asked to borrow it for a week.

The second came today, from Shelly Timbol (Empower Women Leaders) who just returned from her latest trip to Liberia. She wrote about how the message of The Gospel of Ruth is touching down in the lives of Liberian widows whose stories parallel the struggles of Naomi and Ruth.

Hi Carolyn,

I just returned from my third trip to Liberia, West Africa. On this trip I traveled to the interior on an invitation from a local pastor to bring a message of encouragement to a group of 85 widows and about 30 other women who he ministers to from several small villages.

These folks did not speak English but have a Bible in their native dialect which had been translated for them years earlier by missionaries with the Inland Church.

I had planned on retelling the story of Ruth to these dear women. I was excited to do so especially after reading your book The Gospel of Ruth. I wanted to show the ladies how this book’s central theme was the love God has for them, the purpose He has for His daughters and I also wanted to highlight how the devotion of one woman to another kept them going so that they could receive the full blessing God had for them.

Carolyn, to my great surprise these women had never heard the story of Ruth! The translation of scripture they had did not include all of the OT books. So when I shared the book of Ruth with these women it was the first time they heard the story of Naomi and Ruth and the first time they learned how God cared for these women and how He used their strength in His story.

These dear ladies gasped, and sighed during the telling of the story and at the end they all clapped! The testimonies at the conclusion showed that hearts had been touched.

It was a great, great privilege to be in that moment.

I want to thank you for your study and work of sharing your insights. God is using the message He’s blessed you with to bless many others, and last month He used your insights to bless about 130 women in the interior of West Africa!

With sincere gratitude,
Shelly

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4 Responses to Women of Liberia meet Naomi and Ruth

  1. Anonymous says:

    This inspires me to RE-read The Gospel of Ruth, Carolyn, and to share it with more women–

    Nancy M.

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  2. Carolyn says:

    Yes Nancy. I'm telling you it's a total game-changer! And women in patriarchal cultures will resonate with it in ways we can only imagine.

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  3. annehess says:

    As a young widow myself, your reflections on the Gospel of Ruth were so comforting and empowering, and came at a much needed time. What a joy to hear this testimony of Ruth's story giving hope and strength to widows around the world. Their experience is probably closer that that of widows in Old Testament times. It's a much needed word. Blessings on your work. Thanks for your teaching and ministry.

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  4. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for your comment Anne. I'm so grateful that you found TGOR “comforting and empowering.”

    I agree that the experience of widows in Liberia is much closer to that of widows in biblical times. This is where Roy Ciampa's insightful article on Identity Mapping (http://bit.ly/Ocofmf) is so helpful. When we read of widows in the Bible, our natural inclination is to “identity map”—to think of widows we know in our world. But in patriarchal cultures a woman without a husband—for whatever reason—is immediately at risk for poverty, abuse, trafficking, etc. I often quote the widow in India who said, “This is not life. We all died the day our husbands died.” That sheds an entirely different light on widows in the Bible whose situation was desperate and frightening.

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