“My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For he hath remembered the lowly estate of his handmaiden…He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree…He hath filled the hungry with good things.” -Mary of Nazareth, Luke 1:46-53
Have you heard of the Girl Effect? A movement committed to realizing “the unique potential of 600 million adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world”? If not, watch the video to get an idea of what it’s all about.
Of course, the solution isn’t really a girl. The solution is God. And yet, God is determined to include human beings in his redemptive purposes, and his decision to give girls–marginalized, oppressed, impoverished girls–a primary role in his plan has been scandalizing the power-brokers of society for millenia.
Many theologians consider the proto-euangelion of Genesis 3:14-15–the promise that the woman’s offspring would crush the Serpent’s head–to be the beginning of the covenant theme that ties all of scripture together. Right after the fall, in one of the darkest moments of human history, God says he’s got a plan to make everything right–and he’s going to bring a girl in to make it happen.
Even in a culture that didn’t place a high value on women, God was continually up-ending patriarchal social norms. God promised Abraham more offspring than he could count, but not just any offspring would do. Galatians 4 specifies that it was Sarah’s child through whom God’s plan would be played out, the child of the promise. The patriarch Isaac favored his burly, masculine firstborn, Esau, but God let Rebecca in on his plans from the get-go, telling her directly that Jacob, her quiet homebody, was the one who would receive his blessing. It was the overlooked, unloved Leah whom God included in the lineage of the Messiah, not Jacob’s beautiful, favored second wife, Rachel. And of course it was the woman’s offspring, Mary’s son, who claimed the ultimate victory over death, just as God had promised Eve. God refused to exclude women from a full, redemptive role in his purposes, even when society had other ideas.
I could give you a long list of statistics abut why supporting and empowering young girls who are living in poverty is a good idea–the most effective way, in fact, to fight systemic problems like hunger, AIDS, human trafficking, and infant and maternal death. But isn’t the fact that God insists on including girls in his redemptive plans for the world enough to convince us that we need to get with the program?
I love this book. I love it so much that I wish I could buy every household in America a copy. I can’t do that, but, I will be giving away ONE FREE COPY of “Half the Church” on this blog! Leave a comment about why you think it’s important to empower girls, or share a story about how you’ve seen the Girl Effect in action. Or, if you prefer, write your own blog post about the Girl Effect (you can join other Girl Effect bloggers and link your post here), and leave a link and short explanation in my comments section for a chance at winning the book.
On Tuesday, Oct. 11, I’ll choose the comment I like the best, feature it on my blog, and mail the winner a copy of “Half the Church.” (Don’t put your address in the comments, though–I’ll email you for that!)
So, what’cha think? How have you seen God use girls to change the world?