Spiders, Spiders, and More Spiders

Welcome to another Wednesday and another chapter of the continuing discussion about The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns. Even if you haven’t read the book, please still feel free to hang out, read today’s post, and join the discussion. If you’ve written a post about this chapter, please link it up at the link widget below. And please make absolutely sure to visit my friend and co-facilitator, Jason Stasyszen, at Connecting to Impact to see his thoughts on this chapter.

And now, Chapter 13—Spiders, Spiders, and More Spiders—

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

The Honduran woman sitting in front of us looked to be about fifty, but the paper in her hand said that her age was only thirty-two. The doctor looked around the room at the eight children standing there and quickly asked the woman if the children could wait outside. She nodded to them and they scurried out as though they’d be dismissed for recess. And as the doctor pushed the door shut behind them, I watched the mother put her hands on her swollen belly—Baby Number Nine.

It was only my second trip into the mission field and my Spanish was still a bit weak, but even I understood that the woman had some severe health problems—diabetes, high blood pressure—that the pregnancy wasn’t helping. And in her country, where there was no local health care, that was a pretty huge problem.

The translator—an eighty-something career missionary wife—talked with the lady about her life and how to take care of herself. The lady listened and then responded:

My husband works near the border. He doesn’t come home very often. Every time he comes home, another baby comes. But isn’t this the life of the woman? Like the life of the chicken? We have an egg, the babies hatch, and then it is time to carry another egg. Is the life of the chicken not the life of the woman?

In Chapter 13, Stearns quotes an African saying: “If you educate a man, you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” I sincerely believe this to be true, but yet how very few women in the world have this luxury.

In America, the law gives each child—male or female—the right to get an education. That’s not the case all over the world. In Honduras, the girls are allowed to go to school, but only until a man chooses them to marry and bear his children. In some parts of the world, little girls are married to older men before they have breasts or menstrual periods.

My trip to Sudan this year was eye-opening in a way that my previous trips to Africa hadn’t been. As soon as we were on the ground in Kapoeta, the Sudanese men were trying to barter cows in exchange for the prettiest girl on our team. Later that evening, our host explained that in Kapoeta, girls usually don’t go to school. They spend all day, every day, in the sorghum fields. They help sow and reap the crops, but even in that in-between time, while they’re waiting for the crops to grow, while the boys are at school, the girls spend each day keeping the birds out of the fields. Then, no matter how young the girl is, when a man comes to her father and offers fifty cows in exchange for her, she is “sold” to this man. It doesn’t matter in the least whether they’ve even met—much less have feelings for one another.

While I was in Kapoeta, we had a young newlywed girl come into the clinic, pregnant. She had no idea what that meant. And her husband was probably thirty or thirty-five years her senior. She may have had incredible gifts and talents, but she would never have a chance to develop them or exercise them. Her entire life would be consumed by bearing children for this man who was probably older than her father, who probably beat her, and probably didn’t have any love for her. And she would live this life until she died, probably at a young age.

How utterly sad and hopeless of a life!

I’ve never been considered a feminist. In fact, the more feminist-bent of my girlfriends would laugh at that very suggestion. But the part of this chapter that grabbed me the hardest and wouldn’t let me go was the theme of women, their oppression, and the need for their education and nurturing.

Going back to Jeremiah 29:11, it’s very easy to forget, when you’re in Sudan (or any other third world country) that God’s plans are to give us a hope and a future. But I guess that’s why God sends us. He sends us to carry hope and future to the world, whether it’s in the form of food, water, clothing, medicines, education, or hugs and prayers.  That’s why we must go. The little girls are waiting on us. They are all waiting on us.

About Sarah Salter


  1. We must go and tell and do because God tells us too. To stay where we are and do nothing is in direct rebellion to His Word and Will. We are each called to serve out of His love. We are called to different places and different tasks, but we are all purposed to love and lift up those who are hurting and lost that they may know the glory of God.

  2. I wrote a whole paper in college about how Jesus didn’t treat women the same as the culture of the day. He honored and esteemed them in the most fascinating ways. It’s not about feminism as you said, it’s about every person being the fullness of what God created them to be. Thank God for the freedoms in this country, but that is certainly not the end of His plan. Love your thoughts and completely agree. There’s more freedom to be expressed and it will change the world.

    Thanks Sarah.

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