International Women’s Day 2021: Susan’s Story of Trial & Triumph
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “A woman is like a teabag — you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” This statement couldn’t be more fitting for the resilient women living in the Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement who have overcome unbelievable challenges.
Today is International Women’s Day (IWD), a global day for celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. At 4africa, it’s also a day for celebrating the advances women all over the world are making for God’s kingdom, too!
Through our efforts to elevate the local Church and launch Disciple-Making Movements (DMM), we often hear inspiring stories of women who’ve risen above unimaginable pain and suffering to support and encourage other women experiencing similar challenges. Women like Susan.
Broken but Not Destroyed
When South Sudan’s civil war made its way to Susan’s village in 2016, she and her husband were forced to run for their lives with nothing but the clothes on their backs and their 9-month-old baby.
“People were getting killed everywhere. We knew that if we didn’t leave, we would be next,” Susan recalls. “We ran for refuge. I was tired and scared but kept going for the sake of my baby.”
Eventually, Susan and her family arrived at the Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement in Northern Uganda.
“We knew no one, and no one knew us. All around us, people’s faces were filled with sadness, bitterness, and hate,” she said. “We set up our small tent and attempted to make the strange new land our home, but we knew the next few years would be some of our hardest.”
She was right. Susan and her husband worked hard to build a new home and life for their small family. But not long after their home was built, disaster struck.
While Susan was away fetching water, her house caught fire and burned to the ground. Everything they’d worked so hard for – clothes, food, and the family’s refugee documents – disappeared in a flash.
“I completely lost my mind and wanted to jump in the fire and die because I felt like my life was over,” she said. Despite her despair, Susan forged on for her family. She would need her newfound strength for the events about to unfold in her life.
Emotionally crippled by trauma, her husband began drinking. It wasn’t long before his heavy drinking took a toll on their marriage, and he eventually moved out.
Just when she thought things couldn’t get worse, her 3-year-old son was badly burned in a freak accident that left him hospitalized and fighting for his life. Susan says that while the fear of losing her son nearly broke her, she chose to remain strong for his sake.
Rising Above Pain to Bring Hope to Others
After a month in the hospital, her son was discharged. Susan began picking up the pieces of her life again. It was a lonely undertaking.
Little did she know, God cared for her deeply. So deeply, in fact, he orchestrated a plan for Susan and her family to come to know the peace and hope of Jesus Christ, beginning with her husband.
A year after separating, Susan began to notice a change in her estranged husband. He quit drinking, started attending church regularly, and even joined 4africa’s Disciple Making Movement (DMM).
After surrendering his life to Jesus Christ, Susan’s husband resolved to reconcile his relationship with Susan and his son and to introduce Susan to the healing hope found in Jesus. Though initially reluctant, she agreed to attend church with him.
“I didn’t really care much about God and the church,” she admits. “I was too busy worrying about my life.”
But within a few weeks of attending church with her husband, Susan discovered a renewed sense of hope.
“I finally found a community that loved and encouraged me in a way I had never experienced before,” she said. “And I began to see that throughout all my troubles, God was sustaining me. It was His strength that had manifested in me during my struggles. He was fighting on my behalf.”
In May 2020, Susan accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Nearly a year later, the 24-year-old mother of three is stronger than ever! Steeped in hope and passionate about sharing the Gospel, she shares her testimony with women throughout the refugee settlement and disciples other young women as they embark on their own journeys of faith.
“I used to think I was strong until I met Jesus and realize that my strength alone is not enough,” she said. “Through Him, I am even stronger and can use my story to help women around me overcome the difficulties they’re going through. I now consider myself an ambassador of God.”
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me.
My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”
Through her testimony of God’s strength, Susan is bringing the healing hope of Jesus to families throughout her community.
International Women’s Day 2021: Choose to Challenge
Susan’s story is a great reminder that our testimonies are powerful tools for sharing the hope of Jesus and making an eternal impact in God’s kingdom. With God, women can not only #ChooseToChallenge, but also choose to overcome. Choose to hope. Choose to be a light. Choose to make an impact – all for God’s glory.
We hope you’ll celebrate International Women’s Day with us by sharing your testimony with someone who could use a little hope (and a lot of Jesus) today.