Women of the Pearl5 min read

Medina is not a woman you forget. In 2012 she attended a women’s Bible study and, afterward, she shared that she and her husband were Muslims and he was ill and needed prayer. Medina believed that Jesus is her Lord and Savior and wanted to be baptized, but her husband would not let her convert. Fast forward two years. Medina’s husband has now passed away. Upon his passing, Medina became homeless, but she has found a way to take in four orphans and provide for them all. As of today, she is still a Muslim but had the orphaned children baptized in the Christian church, reads Scripture to them every evening, and ensures they get to worship every week. We know her story isn’t over yet.

The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) focuses on encouraging women to share the Gospel using the special gifts God has chosen to give them. The mission “Women of the Pearl” (an impactful ministry that is bringing the love of Christ into the lives of women like Medina in Uganda, East Africa) is but one of the opportunities presented showing how we might utilize special talents, personalities, and experiences.

Lynn Corker, founding director for Women of the Pearl, explained how the ministry works: “We have a very specific mission in that we don’t ‘give’ things away to the women, but we are happy to take supplies to teach them a skill so that they can teach others and/or create a business for themselves from it (the ‘teach a man to fish principle’). At the heart of it all is Jesus.”

Women of the Pearl has seen the effect of ministering to women, and because one village was faithful with little, they were moved to bless Hope Lutheran in Bufuula with sewing machines so that the women could sew children’s school uniforms and create handicrafts as a means toward cottage earnings. The machines were purchased at a market in Uganda to support the local economy and not compete with current economic structures. The villages where machines were placed indicated that they would be devoting their first profits to assisting other villages in starting similar projects. Incorporating the Gospel into the society rather than imposing foreign standards is seen as way of engaging Christ in lives—transforming women where they are, offering real hope.

LWML Connection

Representatives of Women of the Pearl were at a one-day retreat hosted by the LWML of Gateway and Battle Creek Zones. The retreat took place at St. John’s, Burr Oak and fifty area women attended. Taking advantage of a local connection to Women of the Pearl, the retreat presenter was Amy Balzer Pemberton, who grew up in Sturgis, Mich. the daughter of Rev. James and Phyllis Balzer. Pemberton became involved in Women of the Pearl when she volunteered to design a logo for the ministry. She had no intention of further involvement, but she was gradually drawn into the lives of the women and eventually traveled to Uganda. During her presentation at the retreat, she emphasized how local women could become more aware of unrecognized skills in responding to other’s needs.

Jane, from the town of Masindi, married a man who, unbeknownst to her, was already married to another woman and had five children. Through much prayer and grace, Jane ended up adopting his five children and opened her own business. She was able to fund the schooling for all 10 children. She also found a way to save enough money to buy some land and built a home on the land with her own hands, brick by brick (as is customary in Uganda for women to do). A short while ago, Jane’s husband passed away and now she is in a dispute with her adopted children over land ownership. In Uganda, when a husband passes, the land is rightfully given to the eldest son. Jane is now in jeopardy of being homeless. Despite all of these setbacks, Jane loves serving her Lord and the women of Uganda as a leader and advocate for women’s ministry on the board for the Lutheran Church Mission in Uganda.

Women Sewing Sanitary Napkins
Women sewing sanitary napkins


Pemberton’s involvement with the women in East Africa included teaching hygiene and business ownership skills, leading Bible studies, and participating in a special program for the wives of Ugandan pastors. Exercising her special love of children, she found that her energy to play and hold babies freed Ugandan mothers from the distraction of caring for their children and gave them time to participate in some of the special programs. Pemberton and the other presenters of Women of the Pearl shared many illustrations of the resourcefulness of the Ugandan women and how small acts are transforming lives.


wop group
Attendees of the retreat. All ladies are wearing pearls as a show of solidarity with Christian women worldwide and as a symbol of prayer for those who have yet to trust in Christ’s completed work.


During the LWML retreat, the women made personalized prayer journals for the Women of the Pearl to distribute on their next mission trip. Such resources help many of the Ugandan women recognize the unity in the body of Christ they have, even in isolated areas across the globe. In addition to the journals, retreat women also brought sewing kits and colorful fabrics, Band-Aids and basic healthcare items, hygiene pads and white cotton, hook and loop, and rip-stop fabric for women’s pads for distribution. Because of a generous gift from Thrivent Financial and the Lutheran Heritage Foundation, thirty Swahili Small Catechisms and two Swahili Books of Concord were also included in the ingathering.

In 2013, in Jinja, Uganda, a woman named Edith attended a workshop where she learned doctrine from Luther’s Small Catechism. Since then, Edith has taken her learnings and taught God’s Word to the members of her congregation and surrounding villages. She has been a catalyst to starting churches in five other villages, and leads women’s ministry through drama, dance, and music, and helps with youth ministry.

If you would like to learn more about Women of the Pearl, contact Lynn Corker by email, visit or “Like” the Facebook page of Women of the Pearl.

Photos courtesy of Women of the Pearl and Jeanne Lee

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About the Author

Jeanne Burton-Lee is a member of St. Paul's, Colon. As a member of LWML-Michigan District-Gateway Zone, she enjoys encouraging and supporting others in the mission of telling the Good News of salvation and peace accomplished for all by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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