That’s Swahili for “Peace from Above.”
Last night, I had the privilege of worshipping with and hearing testimonies from a group of Amani ya Juu women visiting from Kenya. Prior to this special evening, I had zero knowledge about this project, and now that I have learned about their commitment to meeting the physical, spiritual, emotional, and social needs of marginalized women in East Africa, I feel moved to share their story.
Amani ya Juu is a sewing and reconciliation project that equips and empowers women with tools to improve their lives and communities. They are taught sewing and marketing skills so they can sell handcrafts in order to earn a just wage and provide for their families. Amani goes beyond fair trade, however, to see women flourish. As the women learn practical skills to improve their quality of life, they also experience God’s healing, moving them beyond their traumatic and difficult pasts and into a personal relationship with the God who provides hope and peace. As the women work together towards sustainability, they become friends, mentors, and sisters in Christ.
They come from places of brokenness and hopelessness, telling of the same emotional hurts and insecurities we experience in our own lives, and it was a beautiful reminder that women are the same the whole world over. It was inspiring to hear their stories of emptiness and the eventual healing and redemption they experienced in the arms of their loving Father, our great God. It is so easy to put God in a box, to think of Him as the God of my country and my continent, and it is humbling and awesome to expand that vision and proclaim that He is King of this entire earth. What a mighty, mighty God we serve!
The women brought some of their gorgeous craftwork to sell, and when I say gorgeous, I mean breathtakingly gorgeous. I left with the most beautiful handmade quilt, I am absolutely smitten with it. It’s bold and massive and hand stitched, and 100% of the proceeds go to the woman who sewed my quilt; her name is Beatrice. I don’t really have a dire need for a quilt, and I usually don’t make $200 purchases on a whim, but I was so moved by these women and what that quilt represents, I felt called to contribute to their ministry. I internally debated whether to buy or not to buy, and the Holy Spirit won out. I figure if I can drop a bill on a new pair of running shoes or getting my bike fixed or buying baby shower presents, then surely I can spend $200 to support these women and further God’s kingdom.
Above is a snippet of the quilt I will forever cherish as a reminder of the Amani women, their impression on me, and God’s omnipotence. Amen.