A woman's worth in Central Asia
Girls in the cities in Central Asia have more opportunities these days to become doctors and politicians and important members of society, but traditionally, in this Central Asian culture, boys are valued more highly than girls.
Boys are valued because they are the protectors of their family and they will continue the family line and heritage. Boys often ensure that their parents will be looked after in their old age. Traditionally when a boy marries he and his wife continue to live with his parents and his wife takes on all the household duties - the cooking and cleaning etc. - which allows the mother in law to rest and enjoy her grandchildren.
If a family has only daughters, the girls are often given names that indicate the family's longing to have boys. These names, when translated into English, are "Let it be a son," "Next will be a son," "Soul of a boy," "Baby boy," and even "Stop giving birth to girls."
The baby girls who are given these names grow up, and for their whole lives, they have to live with their family's disappointment that they weren't born a boy.
As Christians who come from outside this culture, what is our response? How do we help to transform and redeem a culture? How do we help girls to feel loved, protected, wanted, and cherished in a culture which traditionally sees them as second best?
Jesus is always the answer.
Our role may not primarily be to advocate for women's rights (although we do that in the projects we are involved in); our main role may be to tell about Jesus and to model His love in our marriage and in the way we love our kids - our boy and our girls.
What does it look like when Jesus enters a home and culture, and redeems it?
We have marveled at a Christian, Central Asian friend of ours who genuinely loves her mother-in-law and father-in-law. She serves them with such grace and love that it is beautiful to watch. She has the freedom to serve happily within her home and outside of it, because she knows her worth as a daughter of God. Within her marriage, our friend is loved and cherished. She and her husband are eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child - a girl.
Let us pray for the Central Asian women who, for all of their lives, have been told that they are worth nothing.
Let us pray that they will come to know the God who loves them with an everlasting love and Who sees them as more precious than rubies.
And let us love our wives and daughters and nieces and girlfriends well, because they need it and long for it and they're worth it, and because we never know who's learning from our example.