Monday, November 3, 2014

She told me her story...

Angelina, WATS student
She told me she did not know the date of her birth, but that she was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church as an infant in 1973. This is how an incredible and inspiring story began to unfold during one of my mentoring sessions with one of the ladies of my Tuesday morning group. 

A soft-spoken and humble Hausa woman, Angelina was given an English name because of her baptism. Her story was so moving to me that I asked her for permission to share it with you, and she kindly said yes...

Angelina's father had four wives. She was born to the third wife, and she was the only one to survive out of the 12 children her mother bore. 

Life as a child was extremely difficult for Angelina. She grew up in Plateau State, a Christian among many Muslims. 

It was especially hard because she would have to tend sheep as a young child, taking them to pasture early in the morning and staying with them in the field all day until it was time to take them back home. There was no time to go to school. 

Perhaps the hardest part of her childhood, as she described for me, was working in the fields. It was back-breaking labor in extreme heat for hours and hours at a time. Her father did farming and she had to help. Again, for this child and preteen, there was no time for school.

For some unexplainable reason (other than the mercy of God), Angelina was eventually given the opportunity to go to school when she turned 14 years old. Since she had never been to school prior to this, however, she found herself in a very difficult situation: she could not read or write, not even her name. Nor did she know any English. School was very challenging and frustrating for her, but she worked hard at her lessons when she was not in demand at home.

When Angelina turned 19 she also learned to sew, thinking that would help her to be able to earn money for herself as an adult. It was during this time she met the young man who became her husband. 
Angelina grew up in Plateau State
Angelina was happy to marry a man whom she loved and who loved her! He was the one who introduced her to the personal, peaceful, and powerful love of Jesus. He was preparing to be a pastor as their first child, Joy, was born. As the years went by, Jeremiah, Grace, and Benjamin were born into the family. 

News from her home village was not good, though. Something terrible happened to her mother. One of Angelina's half sisters died and the mother of the deceased (one of the four wives of her father) blamed it on Angelina's mother, accusing her of being a witch. Angelina's mother was tortured (gasoline was poured on her and she was burned) and sent away to live in the village where she had lived as a child. Angelina's mother was shamed and labeled a witch. The father told Angelina that the daughter of a witch must also be a witch, and so Angelina was cut off from her entire family.The brutal treatment of her mother also meant that if Angelina tried to visit her mother, she might face the same fate. 

Again, she told me that because of the mercy of God, she has been able to be in contact with her mother. And in the face of it all, her husband has been a wonderful source of comfort and encouragement. In fact, her husband even supported Angelina's desire to continue her education. So, she went back to school, landing in what we (in the U.S.) would consider high school right along side her daughter, Joy! They studied together, did homework together, and finished secondary school together! English was very hard for Angelina, though, whose first language is Hausa. But, with perseverance, she finished secondary school along with her daughter.

She soon entered into an institution of post-secondary education even though English still plagued her. Her husband was working on his bachelors degree, and he supported Angelina in her desires to do the same. They were studying in the north when her husband's church (he had become a pastor) sent him to Lagos. Therefore, Angelina had to leave the school where she was studying. As she moved to Lagos with her family, she began praying and seeking information about where she might transfer as an undergraduate student and continue her studies. She found WATS two years ago, and has been studying very hard ever since then, working toward a bachelors degree.
Angelina in class along with her fellow students at WATS
She requests prayer for her ability to understand English well enough to succeed at WATS. She still speaks Hausa at home, and even speaks at women's conferences in Hausa. She gets tutoring from friends, and she humbly asks for your prayers!

Angelina wants to work alongside her husband in the church he pastors, heading up a variety of ministries, no doubt helping other young women from similar backgrounds in the north. Being fluent in Hausa will be a tremendous help as she reaches out to other young women in similar situations. This is the kind of work I would not be able to do, but Angelina can! And, she wants to do so. I am moved by her perseverance and commitment to help others who have had similar backgrounds as hers.

I am honored to know Angelina. She inspires me. we are part of her story! 

To all of you who are supporting me financially and with prayers, please know that you are helping Angelina. You are here with me, and I am working hard to find ways to help Angelina to persevere in her academics so that she, in turn, can help others who have similar stories.

Please join me in thanking God for His mercy extended to Angelina and in praying for her that she will soon be very fluent in English, enabling her to complete her studies at WATS successfully.