Deb Pangerl is a member of First Lutheran in Rush City whose life has been forever altered by our global companions in Iringa. Having traveled to Tanzania more than 20 times, she has found herself called to walk beside young Maasai women seeking a better education and brighter future. This is part of her story...
My deep faith journey began in 1999. God had been trying to get my attention for nearly two years before I surrendered my life to Him. On my knees, I told Him he could use my life for whatever He chose. Prior to this time, I was too busy planning my own life, my career and what I thought was important. A few months later, He chose to send me to Tanzania - and not just once, as I thought on the first trip...
After several Bega Kwa Bega trips to Tanzania and a life-changing chance to study women's issues with the Women of ELCA, it became evident to me that I had an opportunity to seek a greater mission in my lifetime. My soul yearned for something and I was being drawn to the proud but oppressed Maasai women and girls in Tanzania... On a leap of faith, I began finding sponsors who wanted to support the opportunity for education for Maasai girls, and then started a non-governmental organization (NGO) called The IMAGE Project. Our mission is to empower Maasai girls and women in Tanzania through education and economic opportunities.
Over the years, God has used that leap of faith to educate hundreds of Maasai girls. Many of these girls have gone on to advanced education and then return - living, working and contributing in so many ways - to their villages and communities. Their bravery and courage is a testament to others that they can reach their dreams and make a difference in the world.
Then, there was a dream to build a sustainable school for the Maasai girls where they would receive everything they needed to be successful. So, in 2013 the Namnyaki Girls Secondary School was built near the village of Image. It currently has nearly 100 students and is run and owned by the Maasai Community.
Walking alongside Maasai girls and women isn't easy. I have personally heard the cries of the girls and their mothers... Theirs are the stories that haunt me - and yet inspire me to speak for those who have no voice... It's an honor to serve a God that is so powerful that he used an ordinary person like me to help these girls. It humbles me to see these brave and courageous girls at the school. If we can protect and empower them, they are filled with so much hope and potential. I trust that God is leading me and He goes before me, touching the hearts of many and reminding us that we cannot help our world if we close our eyes and ears from the pain that is around us.
I don't know where God is leading you. But, I do know that if you have been on a trip to Tanzania or are planning one through Bega Kwa Bega, listen closely to the whisper from God that only you can hear from deep within. And trust that the grace of God and the shield of faith will protect you wherever you will go. One thing I know for sure is that God will move mountains for you and those you help, and at the end of the day, together, you will make the world a better place for all of His people.
If you are interested in more information about my experience or The IMAGE Project and the Namnyaki School, please visit our website www.imagetanzania.org
First Lutheran, Rush City
Founder/Director of the IMAGE Project