One of our priorities (see our Core Values), following the life of Jesus, is the elevation of women. Our intent therefore at The Well is not simply to provide safety and healing for women, but opportunity limited only by their ability. I get a laugh when I tell women that if they want to go to Harvard we will do anything we can to help them get there, but I mean it. Of course they have to be realistic and willing to work long and hard, I also remind them.
We find it thrilling to dream of women out of The Well becoming transformational leaders, in whatever field of work. Most had long given up any thought of completing high school, let alone entering a professional career. Next year we’re looking at helping Dao, Junie, Kay and Cream start university studies. Others are doing high school equivalency with hopes for higher learning after that. Granted, many live with the practical reality of motherhood. Their priority for the time being needs to be parenting, but in my mind that simply provides a delay that allows them to continue growing and gaining experience.
God’s ethical paradigm is, quite simply, lift up the vulnerable. It is stated no more strongly than in Mary’s song, “He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” In God’s reality (which of course means we can drop “God’s” and just say “In reality…”), we win when we bless others.
Lifting up women then, not only protecting them but giving them opportunity to follow their own gifts and call, blesses men. One advantage is simply diversity, the fact that different types of people leading produce strength, whether in an organization or a society. But living to elevate others strengthens our character and gives us joy.
There is a curious omission of the word “and” in the Greek text of James 1:27. The NIV reads, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world,” (emphasis mine). Most English translations insert the “and”. But I believe it points to the fact that the activity of helping others helps keep us morally clean as well.
Occasionally a male visitor has asked how I avoid sexual temptation while doing this work. I tell them that, interestingly enough, when we do outreach in bar areas populated by hundreds of beautiful sexily dressed young women, I have never had the slightest thought of sexual temptation. My masculine instinct to protect and rescue completely pushes out any other thought. I only see vulnerable but precious ones needing help, and that anything else would be just wrong.