His hands were full of blue cardstock identity cards. The first one hundred recipients waited for him to make his way toward them. Batwa people invisible to most, living undocumented lives on the margins of their own country, swayed with anticipation as he walked nearer. That little blue card represented citizenship, rights and visibility.
I noticed the first photo he sent back. All those women so proud… I asked him where the men were. “The first one hundred identity cards are for the women.” He said it without drama or emphasis. He just determined that in a community of thousands, the women would be the first.
He wouldn’t rest until all seven hundred held their own identity card. He won’t rest until all their children have birth certificates and can go to the local clinic for care, the local school for education.
I see what he believes – women are the hope of a community. They ground this community with their incessant work, daily care for family and efforts to earn a bit more here and there as they can. Empowered with identity cards, he believes they will move the entire community forward.
He couldn’t stop smiling as he handed Leonie her diploma. Even with a babe in arms, she made it to the end of the literacy program. Her accomplishment shined – she mastered reading and writing even as she worked the fields during the day, cooked for her family by night, studied by candlelight or morning sunlight.
I see what he believes – she is strong, capable and valuable. Her efforts at literacy, added to all the other daily labors, equip her to move this village forward. Her work ethic speaks to a deep strength, her insight the reason she offers such great leadership to the community. He believes these local women make the community hum with life and potential.
He refused to accept a slate of all men. As Amahoro Africa shaped the annual conversation he pushed for more women up front. He instructed the team to find women to offer keynotes on theological themes, to steer the conversations and shape the organization. He wasn’t satisfied that women were there, in the room. He wanted them to be heard, to offer leadership and show us a better way.
Every year, he presses for more women to engage in a theological space often reserved for African men. He never seems to care if men get feathers ruffled, if they squirm with women exegeting the holy text or administering the sacraments.
I see what he believes – women are full members of Christ’s body. They belong in the room, they belong up front, they belong with Bible in hand, bread passing through their hands for blessing and distribution. The talk will be too thin without them, the action might not happen without them, the fullness will be lost on us if they don’t help host the holy spaces we inhabit. He believes women are necessary to a healthy Church, a robust faith.
I tire of all the words about what people believe. I want to see it. Give me faith plus works. Don’t tell me what you believe or what I should believe – show me. Let me see what you believe.
Everyday Claude shows me that he believes women can move mountains. I have no doubt what he believes. He doesn’t need any words because he so completely incarnates his faith in women.
I see what he believes.