WOW! and The Things I Learned Along the Way!
By Marilyn Orton, Founder of Women of Worth International
All over the world it seems as if everyone is promoting women’s social, economic, legal and political empowerment, and empowerment through vocational training. For some women empowerment means to increase their control over the decisions that affect their lives. All of these are good and needed in today’s world.
But I would like to share with you an empowerment that is far greater than any of these. It is not a self-improvement program, or class or information applied to life. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that is within every child of God.
The Holy Spirit is not an “it” or a “thing”. He is a person. And He is powerful. He brings about our regeneration and indwells us. He is the “Down Payment” of our inheritance in Christ. He is our comforter and helper. One of his primary works is to empower us, so that His power is released through us. When the Holy Spirit releases His power in us it enables us to perform the ministry He has assigned to us. He releases his power within us so that our lives may count. His power is always for service, not for our glory.
I have found that God calls us to a supernatural ministry, and provides the supernatural power for that ministry. More than anything else, Women of Worth International taught me about the power of the Holy Spirit working through a small group of people to touch lives to the ends of the earth.
YEAR 1986 :
Women of Worth actually began 23 years ago in line at a bookstore in Amsterdam. It was the last day of a BGEA (Billy Graham Evangelization Association) event called Amsterdam ‘86. Standing in line in front of me was a very tall young man with an armload of books. With a broad smile he put a few Dutch Guilders on the counter. As the woman explained to him that they were nowhere near the amount he needed, tears welled up in his eyes and ran down his cheeks. I did what you would have done. I quietly motioned to the cashier that I would pay for the books. No one should cry for want of a book. She turned to the young man and said “Oh, I have made a mistake. This is exactly the right amount.” The man’s broad smile returned and he clutched the books as if they were made of pure gold, and went out the door.
Amsterdam ‘86 was a conference held for 10,000 poor evangelists from around the world. It was my privilege to operate the prayer room and pray with them. I exchanged addresses with nearly 200 of them. When I returned home I asked God what I should do with them, and he reminded me of the man in the bookstore. His plight was everyone’s plight. These poor evangelists had no books. So we began sending books and Bibles around the world every six months. They were books, commentaries, study materials and things that would help them in their ministries.
For the next 17 years I answered thousands of letters. They had so many questions about how to run their lives and ministry. I prayed for wisdom as I answered each letter. They told me about their life, ministry, marriage, family, and spiritual growth. I had a unique glimpse into their lives and I felt that we were close friends though miles apart. My desire was only to help when we could and to be a cheer leader for their ministry because most of them were “out there” by themselves serving the Lord in difficult circumstances. To say it was a joy would be an understatement. I loved being a small part of their lives. Though I prayed for them I never expected to see them again on this side of heaven.
I learned that the Holy Spirit is the power and wisdom of God released within us. He has all of the answers to life’s questions.
At Christmas in 2002 my daughter Kim and I were talking, and I said to her, “Do everything that you want to do in life. Don’t come to the end and have regrets. I only have one regret, that I didn’t go to Nigeria when I was younger and now I am too old.” She said, “No you’re not. You are going and I am going with you” I said, “your father will not let either of us go in this lifetime.” When we asked him he said “Who am I to stand in God’s way.” So that summer we went to Nigeria for a month.
We traveled all over the country speaking in churches. Many of the Pastors were now influential in Nigeria. Many are Bishops with 40 or 50 churches under their care. We used to cut the front off of Christmas cards to send to Francis. That is how he financed his ministry, selling the pretty pictures as he traveled from village to village. Francis is now Bishop Francis Wale Oke, one of the most influential Bishops in Nigeria and has 250 churches including ones in Moscow and Greece.
As we traveled I noticed that the women had virtually no leadership role in the churches. When I would mention a Women’s Ministry they would say “What is that?” I talked with my Pastor friends and they asked me to return the following year and start a Women’s Ministry program to link their churches together. We named it Women of Worth.
I learned that the Spirit of God will take our previous experiences to use us in the present and that He will always get you to where He wants you to be, to do what He wants you to do.
In the spring of 2004 I became ill with a disease that had no treatment and no cure. By July I was bedridden and given a couple of months to live. On August 3rd, I received a phone call at 3 am from a woman in Nigeria. She said “We have stayed up all night praying for you, and God told us you are healed.” I thanked her very much, hung up the phone and went back to sleep. The next morning my symptoms were gone. I returned to the Mayo Clinic, and they confirmed that I no longer had the disease. God had miraculously healed me in a moment of time. Not because of my faith or anything I did or didn’t do. He did it for his own purposes.
I learned that when God takes you through pain He builds something of great value and power in your life so you can use it in the lives of others.
Word spread all over Nigeria that Nigerians had prayed and I was healed! When I returned to Nigeria in 2005 the crowds were amazing. I called it “God’s marketing plan.” It certainly got everyone’s attention, for sure.
I returned to Nigeria with Margo and Denny Mead and Jessica who ministered to children at McGregor. Denny led a 10-day Pastor’s school for the men, while the Margo and I traveled and formed a National Executive Committee, and WOW chapters in churches while Jessica ministered to the children. At one meeting we had a young man tell us about the Book of Hope. It is in comic book format but it gives the Gospel from the Book of Luke. He had a whole warehouse full of them and Vincent’s job was to try to get it into the schools in Nigeria
At the end of the meeting a very tall man in a distinguished uniform approached me and said. “I am President Obasanjo’s emissary. (President Obasanjo is a Christian and he had invited Kim and I to worship with him at the Royal Presidential Villa where he preached a remarkable sermon.) He has sent me to ask you what he can do for you while you are in Nigeria. I quickly replied “I would like permission for the people attending this conference to fill up their cars with the Book of Hope. and distribute it in the schools in their area. He said, “It is well.” And so, over a period of time we distributed over 1 million Gospel books in the schools.
We planted the seeds of WOW everywhere we went. God put it in my heart to tell them to work hard, for we would return the next year and have a National Conference. Before I left I signed a lease for a stadium that seated thousands of people.
I learned that even though we sing “trust and obey” the real principle is “obey and then trust” As we obeyed step by step he opened doors.
That year I returned with 20 people from my church. We fanned out across Nigeria holding Pastor’s schools and WOW training. Our mission ended with a WOW National Conference. During that time we found that the greatest need was Bibles. We could purchase the Bibles for $3.00 each from the Nigeria Bible Society. We bought hundreds, but there were never enough. One of the most heartbreaking things I ever did was to tell them “There are no more Bibles.” To own a Bible was to possess a great treasure.
When I went to Makurdi, the gracious people wanted me to have a comfortable place to stay so they took me to their best hotel. It was night time and I was very tired and looking forward to a good night’s sleep. As soon as my hosts left I jumped in the shower and got ready for bed. I looked for a phone to call Bob and there was no phone. It was then that I noticed there were bars on the windows. I quickly went to make sure the door was locked, only to discover not only was there no lock, the door did not close all the way. I looked outside and there was total darkness. Not a light anywhere. It suddenly dawned on me that I could scream my head off and no one would hear me.
What was I going to do? It was then I spotted a chest in the bedroom. I nudged it out from the wall and shoved it inch by inch in front of the door. With an aching, back I got a pillow and blanket and laid down on the couch facing the door. I don’t think I slept all night long.
In the morning, I shoved the chest back into the bedroom. By now my back was really hurting. I got dressed and sat down at a table with my back to the door. I started reading a passage of scripture and all of a sudden, I felt there was someone else in the room. I turned slowly and looked into the face of a very large man wearing what looked like hospital scrubs. Was he a deranged mental patient? An escaped convict?
Managing to speak in what I thought was a pretty steady voice, I said “May I help you?” to which he replied, “I have come to take your order for breakfast.” Trying to be nonchalant I said, “Oh that’s great. I would like 1 egg a piece of toast and coffee. He thanked me and left. I continued reading and the man returned with breakfast. All the time he was laying out the silverware, food and pouring coffee, he never took his eyes off of the Bible. Finally, I said, “This is a Bible.” “Yes,” he said softly. “Someday I hope to own one.” I handed him mine and said, “Now you do.” It contained all of my notes, but God brought them to my remembrance when I spoke.
I stayed awake half the night, hurt my back, was scared stiff, and all God wanted to do was to give a man a Bible.”
I learned that the Holy Spirit releases his power through us that our lives might make a difference to someone else.
In 2007 my daughter Alison and I returned to solidify the work. The country was divided into regions and state and area representatives were appointed.
We visited the Children of Worth school which now has 160 pupils. Many Muslim children attend. Their parents let them come because they want them to learn to read and write.
The Muslim King of Osogbo, invited us to his palace to pray for him, and we did. In Jesus’ Name.
As the chapters in a city grew all of the denominations met together to put on what is called Celebrate Jesus Festivals. This is a time of worship, evangelism, and a project to help widows and orphans. In 2008 there were 5 Celebrate Jesus Festivals.
The women of each chapter take great pride in having dresses alike.
There is a Young Ladies of Worth Mentoring program that follow a mentoring guide written for WOW by Millie Dienert.
When the men saw WOW taking off, they wanted their own version. So we started with the friends I had written to for so long. They named it the Marilyn Orton African Alliance. Today they have representatives in every state. They have an annual Leadership Conference with over 2,000 in attendance.
I learned God’s power can accomplish exceeding abundantly above all I could ask or think.
WOW is now in over 90 countries. WOW USA has begun in Washington D.C.
I received an invitation to go to the State Department USAID. They were very interested in how so many people in Nigeria were connected into what they called a “hub of collaboration.” The State Department is looking for such groups to work through at the grass roots level to dig wells, educate children, plant food, etc. The woman who invited me is now the President of God’s Green Africa and has access to the entire Presidents of every African country.
I learned that as God’s power reaches the individual, it spreads throughout the world.
WHY IT IS SO POPULAR?
Because it meets many needs of the women:
It helps the women by adding structure to their meetings
It provides a place for leadership training
It gives them an opportunity to discover their spiritual gifts and to serve in the area in which they are gifted
It gives them stature within the church and community
They are being discipled and growing spiritually
It meets every woman’s deep need of friendship and belonging
It’s simple. It’s free. And it works!
WOW meets numerous needs, and it doesn’t matter if the women are in a lowly hut in the bush or someone with great resources.
I learned that God’s power always shows up when there is a need to be met.
SPIRITUAL GIFTS AFRICA
The program is under the leadership of the local Pastor and Women’s Ministry Director. They appoint 7 team members who administer the program. Each team member is responsible for one area. Each formed their own committee made up of people with spiritual gifts in that area.
Women with the gift of teaching had the opportunity to start a Bible Study
Women with the gift of administration became the Team Director
Those with the gift of encouragement gathered a team of other encouragement and started a counseling ministry
Those with the gift of service organized a visitation team and began a prayer ministry.
The events coordinator organizes monthly activities such as the Girls Night Out.
I learned that God’s power can use a simple idea to change a nation
SPIRITUAL GIFTS: AUDIENCE
Many Christians live in spiritual poverty. They are entitled to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and His energizing power, but they are not aware of their birthright.
“We are his workmanship, created for good works that He provided beforehand.” Before the world God planned and equipped you for a particular task. When you were in your mother’s womb He began to equip you for what you were to do in life. Are you using your equipment? He gave you talents you would need to excel and get the job done.
Every person has a proper gift. Proper means fitted. When you buy shoes the salesman says we got a shoe to perfectly fit your size and that will perfectly you’re your style of life. .
When the spirit of God releases his power within you it enables you to perform the ministry He has assigned to you.
You were born for a purpose. When God knows that we want His purpose accomplished more than we want His power, He can trust us with his power.
Spiritual Gift Indicators
What do you do really well?
In what service areas do you experience the most joy?
In what service areas are you willing to make the most sacrifice?
In what service area have you experienced the most fruit?
In what service area have others affirmed you do well?
Let's go to the ever-popular church kitchen. For each of seven separate functions, seven differently gifted ladies were placed in charge of the
kitchen. How will each one handle the job?
Administration: Took time to organize a committee, assign jobs, divide the kitchen into sections so the women wouldn't get in each other's way, and later
reorganized the cupboards.
Mercy: Was so busy listening to the hurts and cares of the other ladies on the Committee, that she took hours to clean the kitchen.
Teaching: Had a running one-sided conversation with the other ladies, telling them about some interesting details of the lesson she was preparing for the
Encouraging: Went from lady to lady, comforting one, offering counsel to another, challenging a third one to start having a daily prayer time---all the
while making everyone feel happy to be a part of the team.
Giving: Noticing that the plates were cracked and the cups had broken handles, mentally decided she would replace them as a Christmas gift to the church.
Prophecy: Dazzled the kitchen crew with her latest story, making them laugh, but pressing her spiritual point as well. She settled a disagreement between
two ladies, who both claimed the same pie pan.
Serving: Bussed tables, stacked and washed the dishes, and carried out the garbage. As the last of the committee members went home, she packed the
decorations and stored them for the next year. On her way out the door, hours after everyone else had left, she scooped up the dirty tablecloths and took
them home to launder.
I am so thankful I said “yes” to writing to the Evangelists never dreaming it would end with over 1200 WOW chapters ministering to tens of thousands of women all over the world. To God be the glory great things He has done!
The greatest use of one’s life is to spend it for something that will outlast it. For the value of life is computed not by its duration, but by its donation. Not how long we live but how full and how well. When God gives us a commission He always equips us for the job. God has placed in the hands of the believer the most miraculous and supernatural power this world will ever know.
We need to claim the power and authority that gives us the right and ability to do the works of God. When God knows that we want His purpose accomplished more than we want His power, He can trust us with His power. You have the power to fulfill your destiny. If you say “no” you miss it all.
Had Moses Failed to Go
“Had Moses failed to go,
Had God granted his prayer,
There would have been for Him
No leadership to win,
No pillared fire, no magic rod,
No wonders in the Land of Zin.
No parting of the sea,
No water from the rock!
There would have been,
No manna daily fresh from Heaven,
No Sinai’s God, no shining face
From forty days and nights with Him.
No hiding in the rock-
Ephesians 3:20 “Now unto Him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us. To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever amen.”
God’s glory passing by!
There would have been
No Canaan’s view from Nebo’s top
With Heavenly Hosts his grave to keep-
Just forty years of watching with his sheep!”