Women of Reverence invites Ash Mortleman as a guest blogger.
Ash is the wife of one husband, Steve, who serves as an elder in Lighthouse Church, Mutare, Zimbabwe. Married for 25 years, they are the fortunate parents of a daughter, Caylie (21) and a son David (17). She works part time with Steve in their retail and wholesale business.
Ash is a confirmed control freak, a wordy person (the thousand words was a challenge), a complete over-thinker and is seriously grateful for God’s continued grace in her life, especially all the times that a bolt of lightning from Him would have been appropriate!!
She loves books, coffee, chats, all kinds of cake and chocolate!
Many years ago I was maneuvered into something special and wonderful – leading a ladies bible study. However, it was anything but a smooth process. Truthfully, I went into it rather like a dog being pulled towards a bath – both heels dug in the ground and yanking in the opposite direction.
Previous to this, I had been attending the same ladies study for over 12 years. The venue opposite my house, on an afternoon I was free, often involved cake and did the deep Precepts kind of study (with homework) that I loved. It was lovely. Then I felt God ask me to change studies…!
I was in a good space with Him and agreed. I joined up with a group of older ladies I didn’t know well, to study one lunch hour a week. The study was aimed at working ladies who wouldn’t otherwise be part of a study. It was a lovely collection of characters, sometimes involved ‘melktert’ and was quick ‘n easy! After a few weeks (literally) the leader of the group told me that she was moving to SA and she believed that I should lead the group!
Well, that was NOT the plan I had but said I would think about it – but actually I was thinking more about how to get out of it…!!
Soon after, I caught a lift to Harare with a couple whose spiritual hearts I really trusted, and during the 3 hour journey I told them what had happened. The husbands’ answer was, “Well, obviously,” and the two of them had a little chuckle. The wife then added “I said when you joined that group that you would be the leader.” I had hoped that I’d be able to get their support to ask someone else…!!
In my first session I had one lady say to me “We are not your old group, and we don’t do homework.” I was a bit thrown by that, but decided to just start with an easy study and go from there.
Well, over the years we have done more than a few studies which have involved homework and many of the ladies actually do the homework happily. I’m at peace with what each is able (and willing) to do – although I do stretch them a bit and ask hard questions, which of course are much more easily answered having done some homework.
This group makes me smile every time we meet – we are a fabulous mix of all sorts - old, middle aged and young, black, white, coloured, we are married, single, widowed, divorced, new Christians, seasoned Christians, from every sort of church background – and we are not members of the same church! I will admit – there are a couple who are hard work for me to understand. And yet, God in His amazing grace, makes it work.
Then in late 2018 God asked me to release the group to function more in the gifting's that He had given me. That was hard… I liked how it was going just as it was. But I’d learnt a lesson or two, so release them I did. Gifting, and the broader necessity of being a part of the wider body became very real for all during an intense study of Romans 12. These ladies dived deep and swam!! It was wonderful.
Then came Cyclone Idai in February 2019, and the “takkies hit the tarmac.”
The devastation, destruction, loss of life and general trauma that ensued from the cyclone was horrific. Talk about “such a time as this!” However, it was also a time where it felt like the world came together in Mutare – private business and individuals, the general public, the Zimbabwean Air Force, the medical fraternity, fuel suppliers, food suppliers, multiple churches, international help, prayer teams… It was humbling to watch.
And all these women stepped up and into what God had positioned them for. They continue to do this. They disciple many, they walk loving obedience, modelling relationship with Jesus. They continue to encourage and amaze me – they are strong, wise, loving and not afraid to be real.
They’ve been amazing in lockdown, loving and encouraging each other and others in the church – and outside of it. There have been several of the group who have stepped into deaconship and done it so well. Thank you God! For what you’ve done for me, for us all, through them .I am a better student of the Word, because of them!
In conclusion, God has a way of maneuvering us into new things, doesn’t He?
Just when you think that you have it all figured out there comes a storm which you think will blow you away, but in His kindness He uses the storm to re-set your sails.
Women are to be celebrated.