It’s been a while since you last heard from us and quite a lot has happened during that time. I am reminded of the story of the widow of Zarephath, who was on her last ounce of flour and drop of oil when a man of God came by and asked for a meal. You can imagine how shocked and upset she was because this was her last meal which she was going to cook, eat with her son and prepare to die of hunger!
Over a year ago, as Trustees of the Li Tim Oi Foundation, we found ourselves on the ‘last morsel’ of our resources, having paid out the fees for the first year for the students we had agreed to support but not being entirely sure how we would meet the needs for the remainder of their courses. To our amazement and joy, the Lord provided for us through a generous legacy and we have been able to meet all those students’ needs, for now.
‘For now’ it means that we continue to rely on the support of friends of the Foundation, like you, to help meet the needs of the women we give grants to in the majority world. This is so that they can become agents of change and transformation in their own churches, communities and dioceses. We continue to be amazed at what they go on to do with the degrees they have undertaken. We hear of visionary leadership and faithful and courageous ministry in the most challenging situations.
Plans for the future
The Li Tim Oi Foundation has been going through a period of review and discernment to see how we can better support even more women. Over the past 20 years, we have supported over 450 women from around 20 countries for a wide variety of roles, including as ordained priests, evangelists, literacy advisors, community and health workers, diocesan administrators and many others.
It would be wonderful to be able to say that such support is no longer necessary. Unfortunately, that is not so. The proper status of women is still woefully unrecognised in many cultures. Because of recent conflicts, in some ways the need is more urgent now than ever. In many countries there is an even greater education and training deficit, especially for women, who are still under-represented in courses of initial and further ministerial training.
Until now, the Foundation focused on initial training across a wide range and diversity of courses, but the Trustees became increasingly aware of a dearth of women at higher degree (MA & PhD) levels. We recognised that if we were going to enable women to become leaders and future theological educators and to attain senior positions in other fields, we would have to change our policies. We are excited by what these changes will mean for the women we support, and we believe it will greatly expand our potential to reach more women.