Recognition, Rewards, and Renewal in the Book of Ruth -- By: Funmi Para-Mallam
PP 18:1 (Winter 2004) p. 13
Recognition, Rewards, and Renewal in the Book of Ruth
Funmi Para-Mallam is a Ford Foundation International Fellow doing doctoral studies in gender and development at the University of Leeds, UK. She is married to Gideon, Associate Regional Secretary with IFES-EPSA covering West Africa, and they have three children. Para-Mallam originally presented this paper as a general session address at CBE’s International Conference, August 8-10, 2003, in Orlando.
These jamb figures from the Chartres Cathedral in France represent Old Testament precursors of Christ like Boaz is thought to be.
God has given me a vision for the kind of things he wants to do in the lives of his people, specifically in the lives of women—powerful and priceless things that people have not yet understood fully. I share not just out of gratitude but also out of weakness. I share not as somebody who has all the answers.
Since 1999, I have undergone intense struggles I never anticipated in my Christian life. Before then, everything in my life was moving smoothly. I did not know I was experiencing a calm before the storm. I did not know God was preparing me for a massive upheaval in my life. During the up-heaval, I cried out to the Lord because my faith was so severely tested.
Strangely, on the surface everything looked fine and nobody would have believed I was going through the things I was going through. To most people, it appeared as though everything was going according to plan. I was being blessed left, right and center, but deep down inside God was stirring things up inside me—things I did not even know were there. It was very scary. I did not even know where I could go for support. As the wife of a Christian minister I found it very lonely. I asked the Lord to touch people to intercede on my behalf.
For many of us, it is not culturally acceptable to be vulnerable, especially if you are in a position of leadership. As a minister’s wife, I felt pressure to appear perfect and have everything under control, but I thank God for a few mature friends who knew how to offer support and pray. Moreover, God answered my prayer. In October 2000, a woman from my church told me she had been praying for me for five minutes every day for six weeks. I was so gratified to hear that. Because of this difficult time in my life, I identify with the story of Naomi and Ruth, who both endured severe upheaval.
Over time, I have realized Ruth illustrates how God deals with us as individuals. He pursues us passionately and lovingly as individuals, and he calls us to partner with him personally. It is an individual call because we are all very special and uni...
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