Written by Holly Madden, LeadHer Local Director. Connect with Holly on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.

A few weeks ago, Christie Love shared a powerful post from her heart and story called, Breaking my Silence. In this post, one of the pieces she shared was future vision for LeadHer, one of them being the growth of our blog as we expand on topics that directly impact the culture of our LeadHer mission and vision. As I sat down to write a weekly blog, my heart was so full of passion and heartbreak over the issue of women worldwide that I was unable to write about anything. I write this to challenge perspective, spread awareness, and stir up passion in the hearts of those called to act. We cannot fix the problem alone, but we can all do our part:

Last week, I followed the eager Facebook posts of a dear friend who was moments away from discovering the gender of her baby. Everything she posted ended with the hashtag #pinkorblue? With near equal excitement, friends and family commented with their guesses as everyone waited for the big moment. Finally the images were posted, giant balloons filled with colored confetti were held in the air and with a single pop, the family of 3 was showered with pink. They were having a little girl.

I love that in this country, most little girls are celebrated. The idea of bows, ballet, and daddy’s-little-girl make pink gender reveals a joyous celebration. In most cases, little girls are a beautiful addition to the family. However, in many other countries, the birth of a girl is disappointing. In patriarchal cultures where families are expected to birth sons to carry on the family name, inheritance, and legacy, girls are seen as a waste of space. If allowed to live, they are required to take on the role of a servant rather than a student, and a bride rather than a child. The ideal future that these families wish for their daughters is to be married off at a young age to a much older man with the expectation that she will be quiet, do the housework, have sex, and bear sons. In many families, women never learn to read or write, are silent victims of horrible abuse, and are labeled unwanted.

While we celebrate the birth of the daughters who have been prayed over, cried over, and wished for, we must not forget the little girls who will never hear, I love you or I’m proud of you. We must not forget the little girls whose birthdays go uncelebrated, whose innocence is stolen by the first man who comes along, and who will grow up to be women whose voice will be silenced by culture and religion.

As a little girl, I remember learning about the story of Jacob and Rachel. I was absolutely horrified that after 7 years of labor (and what I thought of as fairytale love), Laman would give Jacob the wrong daughter. I can still remember the image in my children’s Bible of Leah. She was depicted as ugly. While my friends in Sunday School oohed and awed over the love story that did finally take place between Rachel and Jacob 7 more years later, I always felt bad for Leah because she was unwanted and unloved (Genesis 29).

I was also always frustrated over the story of Hagar. I first heard her story when I was in a season in my life where I could relate to how she must have felt, feeling used and rejected. Hagar was probably only a young girl who lived as a servant to Sarah. She had no future and no freedom and so when she was given to Abraham to give him a son, she had no choice. After rape, a pregnancy, and the birth of a son, she was abused and rejected. Again, while my peers rejoiced over the birth of Isaac, I still found my heart broken for the unwanted Hagar. (Genesis 16).

Both of these stories take place in the first book of the Bible. They are among the first stories that we read and they are stories about women that we should never forget. They were forgotten, abused, and rejected, but they both had powerful encounters with God. We know that God pursued Hagar in the desert, and when He found her, He comforted her and promised her a future. Hagar is the first person recorded in the Bible to give God a name, El Shaddai, “the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13).  

God blessed Leah with 4 sons, according to the culture, Leah honored her husband and their family name not once but 4 times. At the birth of Judah, her youngest, she praised the Lord. The Hebrew word for praise is “Yadah” which means to “throw up or extend the hand.” This powerful action of worship is used throughout the Old Testament but this is the first time it is recorded. Leah had an intimate relationship with God that worshipped His acceptance of her over her personal rejection.

One beautiful takeaway we gather from these stories is that God has always actively loved and pursued the abandoned. When society has bestowed the label, unwanted, God replaced the label with favored and promised.

As our LeadHer Chapters dive into the topic of “A Prayerful Perspective,” I have found myself praying hard over the unwanted, the abused, and the rejected girls and women all over the world. I long to use my voice when theirs is silenced. I long to actively love those that God has placed directly in my path and to challenge others to do the same. And I long to pray over these lives and these circumstances in a way that moves the heart of God. Why? Because God deeply loves those our world has declared unwanted. I challenge you to adopt a prayerful perspective for the unwanted, the mistreated, the abandoned, the outcasted, the abused, and the forgotten. I believe that change will happen but change can only start when we pray.