They went out . . . afraid
Today's guest post is by Mr. Chris Atkins, a friend of HGST, and a remarkable young man. He recently traveled to Uganda to minister to the good people there. Along the way he met some amazing people who testified to him of great courage against great odds.
"So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:8). At the end of Mark’s Gospel the women feared; they knew not what to do. But they acted. We know this much. They said something to someone, and that someone said something to someone else. And here we are, reading this ancient text as part of our Christian Scripture, with this puzzling ending, still now. There may have been more to this Gospel, but there certainly was not any less; what we have is what we have, and that includes the fear of these women. This is no fairytale ending; it is just the beginning.
The women of whom I here write, however, are not Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome; the women of whom I here write are the women of Kampala, Uganda who fled, gripped by terror, who said nothing to anyone, afraid. This was their story for quite some time, but as with that ancient text, this was just the beginning. They did act, and they said something to someone.
These women each received astonishing news: they were pregnant. They were pregnant, and they were afraid. Afraid of what would happen next. Afraid of what did happen next. Each, after periods of deafening silence marked by inscrutable fear and pale perspicuity—at different stages in their lives—shared the news with the different men whom had impregnated them. Shunned. They were shunned. Then they each shared the news with their parents. Shamed. These young women were shamed. Ignored by the soon-to-be fathers of their children and ostracized by their own fathers, these women were alone without a home. Their silence had left them trembling, and now their speaking left them trembling.
These women are the women in the picture. They are the brave women who went on to give birth to their children—with the help, encouragement, and community provided by a pregnancy help center in Uganda—despite the pleas and pressures of those around them. This is no fairytale ending; it is just the beginning. The beginning of a new story. A new story of a new life. It is a story new, but I think so, too, old, for it is the story of women being entrusted with the most precious pearls of perpetuity, overcoming the most perennial perils of patriarchy. It is the story old, however cryptically untold.