By Carla Foote
Juliet was short and soft-spoken, but she carried herself with a presence of strength and confidence as she stood before our group in her sari, orienting our international team to the complexity of culture and religion in India. I tried to guess her age but didn’t want to be rude and ask. I was already wowed when she was introduced, not only by her past accomplishments, but by how she was choosing to use her influence in her current season of life. She was clearly past 70 but had recently started two distinct and influential ministries in India: a women’s magazine for professional women and a ministry that focused on training and empowering women in shanty-towns. Her women’s empowerment ministry was active in a Hindu area and a Muslim area of the city and she was definitely hands-on with the activities. The emphasis of her women’s empowerment ministry was developing skills in computers, tailoring, literacy and income-generating projects.
I was thrilled that Juliet was part of our magazine training class in Bangalore, India, where the students ranged from 25 to 73, all active in some aspect of Christian publishing. I knew that when I went to India, if I was open and flexible, I would learn as much or more than the students would, even though my role was to go and teach on editorial topics. Throughout the week I felt like I was in a hall of fame, where every encounter was with someone who had an inspiring story. Not all the stories were dramatic, but each pointed to a faithful God and to diligent servants of God, who persevered, often behind the scenes, to fulfill their call to ministry, to use their influence in their appointed slice of the world. There were students from India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Zambia and Nigeria and trainers from India, USA, Ukraine and UAE.
As the week progressed, I learned that Juliet is 73, exactly 20 years older than me. For some reason those 20 years held huge significance for me. I have greatly benefited from mentors in many seasons of my life, but currently my mentors are about 10 years older than me. To get to know Juliet and witness the way she lived her faith on the cutting edge was deeply impactful on my perspective of how to follow God in all seasons of life.
I also realized that I don’t have a lot of interaction with people who are over 70. My current circle of relationships includes many younger people, peers my own age and some great friends who are about 10 years ahead of me. Even in my own family, I am the older generation and I didn’t see my parents live past 64, so I am short on role models a generation ahead of me.
I want to be like Juliet when I am 73. Oh, I might have a different call than hers, but I want to still be willing to follow God and use my influence in ways that he reveals when I am in a season of life when it would be easier to coast into the finish line.
Bio:Carla Foote is Executive Editor of MomSense magazine for MOPS International (www.MOPS.org). She was a trainer for Magazine Training International at a conference in Bangalore, India.