In an article published on July 12, 2015, a young woman in Africa tells her story of sexual abuse by a male pastor, showing one of the reasons we need more women in the ministry. Her description of the culture and societal traditions also sheds some light on cultural reasons for the No vote that took place on July 8, 2015, and why some cultures may resist having women in ministry.
Nandipa is a young woman in Botswana, southern Africa. She suffered sexual abuse by Samuel Pipim, who was a respected pastor, theologian, campus ministries leader, and author. After Nandipa was baptized five years ago, she still struggled to understand how God could forgive her past sins. She was impressed by Pipim’s eloquent preaching at a Bible lecture series, similar to a week of prayer. “I was convinced that this was a mighty man of God,” said Nandipa.
Pipim suggested that they meet at his hotel room for spiritual counseling. “There he sexually violated me, keeping me overnight against my will, and in the morning raping me a second time.”
Nandipa finally gathered the courage to approach another pastor about what happened. He told her to remain silent and handle the matter directly with her abuser. Then Pipim manipulated her into silence and kept her under his emotional control as an additional form of abuse.
Nandipa explains that women in Africa “are under male authority for almost every aspect of our lives. In fact, nearly everything we do first requires men’s permission.” Thus, “pastors and men who are older than a woman are given spiritual authority over all females, from birth to old age. It means that when men tell us to do something our cultural background leaves us with little choice but to do what we are told. This is partially why I was so vulnerable to Pipim’s continued abuse after the rape.”
Nandipa reached out for help from a godly woman in the West. She and others helped Nandipa break free. Nandipa says her life would have been different if there had been a woman in ministry to whom she could have turned in the first place, when she was first struggling with guilt and needed pastoral counseling. “As a church,” she says, “we must look at the larger picture of how desperately women need other women to minister to them…. While all of us are called to minister to others, some forms of ministry require training and time.” She points out that women in ministry must be paid and be empowered to stop abusers.
She says: “We must focus on what matters. Not on a ceremony that sets a person apart for [alleged] authority over others, but on setting up a system that enables ministry to the women and girls of our church to break the shackles of abuse, and find emotional healing and freedom.”
Nandipa’s dream is to enroll in Andrews University for a master’s degree program and help other women. Please pray for her to succeed following God’s plan for her.