Written By Aliyah Lauren Jacobs, South Africa
My chest is tight, my palms are sweaty, I can barely hold back my tears. I’m an emotional mess. I’m undone in this place of prayer. I struggle to find the words I need—but I know He knows.
Nine months ago, I was given a vision by God to create, steward, and lead. This unraveled into an opportunity to recreate the stories of 13 extraordinary women in a photo essay that would finally culminate in an exhibition in an art gallery in Cape Town, South Africa.
Let me explain. I love reading history books, and this love of history and ancient times has led me to research and teach about women in the Bible for over eight years. But biblical stories are just one end of the spectrum. In this present season, God impressed on my heart a desire to shine the spotlight on 13 women from history.
My goal was to teach others about the role these women played as leaders, visionaries, and pioneers in their areas of influence. The world’s first computer programmer was a woman named Ada Lovelace, she was one of the first woman I had to showcase. Then came Hypatia, an astronomer and teacher who was killed for her intelligence and strength. Hannah More was a warrior of the pen, fighting to end slavery alongside her friend William Wilberforce, Rhoda from Acts chapter 12 is featured in this exhibition, as a picture of faith in the prayers you pray. I posed as Anna Comnena, the world’s first female historian and two of my favourite female leaders Hatshepsut the Egyptian Pharoah and Boudica, the Iceni queen, are striking examples of women who ruled. These were just some of the women I felt the world needs to know about.
At first, things seemed to be proceeding well. God provided the photographer, the models, and a theatre store that gave me a good discount when they heard about the vision of my project. The location for our photoshoot was perfect, like something out of an old film, filled to the brim with props and old settings. God provided faithfully every step—until the provision dried up and I entered the desert.
I rented the venue, sold tickets, and organized the opening event for this photo journey—yet certain doors seemed to stay shut. Less than three weeks before the opening of the exhibition, I still didn’t have the finances to get the photos onto canvas. None of the sponsors who had promised finances had delivered on their word.
The needs continued to pile up: payment for the speakers who would minister at the opening event, food for the guests, money for the art gallery. I bore the burden on my shoulders, until my faith began to wear thin. That’s when I broke down in prayer. I was stressed, a broken mess, wrestling between logic and faith.
As I sat on the floor weeping, a tiny voice of reason spoke into my conscience. If I didn’t have the money and the other doors weren’t opening, it was time to give up, return the ticket money and move on. It was the logical thing to do. It was also a way out of my emotional mess. Had I reached out to a family member or friend and had they seen my tear stained face and red eyes, they would have expressed concern and told me it was okay if I could not pull this exhibition off.
Yet, I knew this decision would run contrary to what I believed. I heard another voice. Go on, take the pictures in, prepare the flyers and keep going. I was tired but God’s words stirred tiny embers inside my soul.
It was a long hard week, pushing through and not getting any breakthroughs. Time was running out; there were still no finances, no open doors. Yet, the spark within nudged me to rest in God and let it be. The voice to quit never rose up again.
As I waited, I meditated on Joshua and the Israelites who stood armed on the border of a land they had never seen before (Joshua 6). It was a land they knew nothing about, but had been promised to them by the Almighty. They were armed with physical weapons, but more than that, faith in the voice of God, against giants. I was inspired by the Israelites blind faith. They had never seen this “promised land” before, they did not know what it looked like or what they would encounter once they entered the borders of Canaan. They also would have to fight hard to receive the land they believed was destined to be theirs, yet they went forward. They crossed over, with weapons of faith in God’s Voice of promise.
As the long hard week drew to a close, God restored me with hope. A school for at risk teens reached out and asked if their girls could come to the exhibition. Empowering young women is my passion and when this request came through, I was overwhelmed with joy.
Also, this opened an opportunity to raise funds to bless these children to attend the exhibition, receive free gifts and food. Soon enough, a discount was offered by a local print shop and then one morning, a donation came in to our ministry. The amount was enough to print every one of the canvases I was still waiting to print! The exhibition opened on the 11th of March and will run until the end of the month. Somehow, I managed to pay the speakers, my father paid for the food for the guests and it turned out to be a blessed opening event.
Attending to faith and allowing it to build the logic of my life, has led me in my weaknesses. It has also enabled me to be a witness to miracles and to draw closer to God in intimacy. In fact, the more I heed His Voice and live in obedience to Him, the louder His Voice becomes to me. I’ve also come to realize that if God has spoken something, then what He has spoken is logic—the logic I will hold on to with trust and faith.
God’s voice should be the vehicle to overcome doubt, no matter what.