Barbara comes from behind Yarahapinni Mountain in North NSW, Australia. She is a leader in her community and supervisor in her council office. She is a woman of courage and an intrepid traveller with a big heart for the hurting women of the world.
It takes a brave woman to venture out into an unknown part of the world, and walk through mud and long grass in an area where few outsiders ever go. Barbara did this recently when she went to the highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG) to spend time with people she hardly knew, yet cared about.
I have the assurance that God wanted me there and had my life planned long before I even knew it. I am grateful and humbled.
She flew on a mission plane, waited for hours besides airstrips, and was driven across slippery and scary roads to meet with the women of a remote mountain village. She slept on hard wooden beds in small primitive houses, bathed in cold mountain rivers and ate the local foods. She taught some basic sewing and cooking skills where there is no electricity and encouraged the women in their faith. Barbara trekked through mud tracks and pushed through tall kunai grass scratching her legs to get to the Sepik River. She wants to help have a bridge constructed to replace the flimsy river raft.
She was surprised and impressed when two women from remote parts of PNG told her separately that they had seen her in a dream coming behind the new pastor to speak to them. One had the dream many years before and one did not believe she would come and stay with them in their homes. Barbara says, “I have the assurance that God wanted me there and had my life planned long before I even knew it. I am grateful and humbled.”
Now she is in Africa and again in places that rarely a visitor will go to. Barbara recently visited the women of Dagoretti, a satellite suburb out of Nairobi in Kenya. Here she met with the local pastors who had recently conducted an evangelistic campaign and seen 20 women give their hearts to Jesus. These women sell locally brewed beer to men who often use and abuse them. They work from a row of miserable tin huts. They don’t know what else they can do. They are poverty stricken and have children and extended families to care for and this is their only livelihood.
Barbara immediately got to work, obtained finance and has already set up one of the women, Florence, with funds to purchase hair cutting and styling equipment and has put her son back into school. Florence and her boy are delighted and so grateful for a better life. A new project has begun—The Dagoretti Women’s No-Beer Project—and will be expanded to help the other women.
Now Barbara has gone off to work in orphanages in Kenya and Zimbabwe before she returns home. To get to the first one was a frightening experience that involved travelling on a matatu (local bus) which took hours to locate, then longer to fill it up with passengers, before taking off. The orphanages are poor and have scores of desperately lonely and sick orphans, many physically and mentally disabled. Good management and protocols are needed and Barbara is doing her part to help. She is preparing job descriptions and procedures that will make a difference to how the orphanages are run. She is spending quality time with children who know no mother.
Her heart is already given over to the people of PNG and Africa and who knows where God will ultimately lead her. She is prepared and willing to go where He calls. The world needs more women like Barbara—women of hope, courage and faith.
Joy Butler is administrative assistant and fundraiser for the Adventist health system in East Central Africa.