A cheering sight, and a very common one, when you travel around southern Africa is a group of women of faith. They make a visual impression because they wear a distinctive uniform. For Presbyterian women in southern Malawi it is a white blouse, white headscarf and black skirt.
The reason it is cheering to see them is that you know they are doing something good. They have come together in their distinctive dress to encourage each other in their faith and devotion, and to undertake compassionate service.
Their focus is on the most vulnerable members of society – the sick and the needy. In most cases they are not particularly well off but they give freely of themselves and their resources to offer assistance to people in need. In a context where there is no welfare state to provide support at times of sickness, unemployment or old age, this is a vital service.
In our acquisitive and consumerist world, what an inspiration to encounter groups of women who gladly give their time and resources to compassionate service without any expectation of material reward. Needless to say, they are also the backbone of most church congregations.
When we are looking for a moral compass there is much to be learned from humble women of faith who come together across Africa to sing and pray and serve.