A couple of weeks ago, I re-read Proverbs 31 and the portrayal of a strong, capable businesswoman popped off the page like never before. Here’s the text:
“She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy… Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue… Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:16-20, 25-26, 28-30 (ESV)
In many societies, both then and now, women have been excluded from buying and owning land. God’s Word here is advocating a kind of gender equality that would have been controversial, even counter-cultural. The “excellent wife” in Proverbs 31 is not soft. She is not stupid. She is strong. She is a worker, a business leader, a producer and seller of goods, an investor, a teacher, a mother, a decision maker, and a giver.
The idea of women as leaders in business and society is not incompatible with the Biblical view of male headship in the Church and in marriage, two vital institutions meant to portray spiritual truths to a lost world. Distinct, Biblical gender roles are ordained by God so that men and women will complement each other within the Church. And according to Proverbs 31, one Biblical role of women in society is that of a business leader.
During our Prosperity Theme, Simple Charity is raising money for Opportunity International, an organization motivated by Jesus Christ to empower women with business opportunities. This organization provides “microfinance loans” which are basically tiny loans for poor people that allow them to start a small business. 9 out of 10 of Opportunity International’s clients are women. They have a payback rate of 98.9% for their loans. That means their programs work, which is something they continuously seek to verify through rigorous evaluations. They also hire locally which creates jobs in the countries where they operate.
The need for this kind of work is huge. According to Opportunity’s website, “Women in sub-Saharan Africa, on average, earn 35% less than men for equal work. Women are also much less likely (26% less) to be employed than men, and for those who do find work, 75% of it is in the informal economy, leaving women unprotected in cases of theft, sexual harassment and discrimination”.
Women who are working are less vulnerable to becoming sex workers, more capable of taking care of their families, more likely to educate their kids, and more able to access healthcare. Many studies have shown that when mothers in poor families obtain money, they’re more likely to invest in their children’s futures than fathers. Please give to Opportunity International and support God’s designed role for women as business leaders. Give because God has given you so much and the need is so great. Give because it will change the lives of women and their children. Give because of obedience to Jesus’s greatest command: to love in deed and in truth as we have been loved.
To give to Opportunity International, click here.