Sometimes we think our individual efforts to defend and explain the truth of Church teaching add up to nothing more than frustration and wasted energy. We look out at the world, and we see powerful individuals and organizations wielding their influence in some very important venues and we ask, “Who am I kidding? There is no way my little ‘yes’ is going to even be a blip on the cultural radar screen.”
That’s why it has been such a joy and a privilege to promote the little “yes” of one woman who was fed up with attempts to infiltrate her homeland of Nigeria, and other countries, with the culture of death.
Obianuju Ekeocha is a 32-year-old Nigerian woman living and working in Great Britain. Uju, as she likes to be called, is also a devout Catholic and a regular listener to Ave Maria Radio and EWTN Global Catholic radio. This summer, she sent me a profoundly sincere and beautiful email, which included a letter to Melinda Gates. The letter was in direct response to Gates’ efforts to collect some $5 billion to ensure African women have “access to contraception.” Gates, who is the wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, identifies herself as Catholic. She announced her plans at a summit in London earlier this year.
Uju watched news reports of the summit and became outraged. After all, as she says in her letter, there are millions of Catholic women of childbearing age residing in the 69 targeted countries. These women love the Church and its teachings. Their fertility is a gift, not an illness that needs to be cured. What these women need, Uju explained, is not contraception, but better prenatal care and pediatric care, food programs for young children, chastity programs and better educational opportunities. Uju also called out Gates for ignoring the moral and physical dangers of contraception, as well as the problems arising from the improper disposal of medical waste in developing countries that lack advanced sewage disposal systems.
Uju sent the letter to me, saying she didn’t know what to do but felt called to send it to Catholic radio. I was so moved by the excellent points she made that I felt compelled to read it on the air. As the old saying goes, the rest is history.
I received dozens of requests for copies of the email, including a request from the Catholic Free Press in the Diocese of Worcester, Mass., which published the letter both in print and online. I also posted the letter on the home page of my website and on a number of social media sites. Within two months it had been picked up by several major Catholic blogs, as well as the Pontifical Council for the Laity. (Read it at http://osv.cm/UVxpJK.)
After Uju was a guest on my program, her family in Nigeria told the local bishop about her letter. He was thrilled to see her writings. The Nigerian bishops had been praying for a more effective way to address this push for contraception in their country, and what better way than to have a dynamic young woman who can speak the truth in love?
Uju and I have become email and phone pals. It is my hope and prayer that I get to meet her in person someday. Meanwhile, she plans to get back to Nigeria in the next few months to possibly speak to a number of different women’s groups and student organizations at the college level. I can’t wait to see what else God has in store.
Maybe Gates might see Uju’s letter and think twice. You never know. And all of this activity started with one woman sitting down and saying “yes.”
Don’t put God in a box. Just say “yes,” and let him worry about the details. Then sit back and watch the miracles happen.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.