United States (MNN) – During InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s Urbana 2018, Mission Network News had the chance to sit down with the three authors of Hermanas: Deepening Our Identity and Growing Our Influence. The authors, Natalia Kohn Rivera, Noemi Vega Quiñones, and Kristy Garza Robinson, have carefully crafted words of empowerment for Latina women.
Rivera notes there are few books available for Latina women with a theological bent for resourcing and encouraging them so as to provide Biblical mentorship. Their book, Hermanas, aims to change this.
“We wanted to help resource, empower, encourage, and just provide mentorship to Latina women. Provide mentorship with ancient women in the Bible and then current, modern mentorship, and help bridge the gap for women; young and old,” Rivera says.
Hermanas looks at stories of women like Lydia, who partnered with Paul. Rivera says men and women were created to partner together, but sin has instead created distance.
“Paul ends up going on from Philippi, and planted other churches, leaving Lydia as one of the leaders. Commentaries say over and over again Philippi was his favorite church. There’s a connection there with leadership. There’s a connection that he entrusted women, and knew that Jesus did too.”
Women in the Bible
Hermanas also explores the stories of Ruth, Esther, Rahab, Deborah, and many more through the Latina cultural lens. But its very existence tugs at the conversation about inclusion in the Church, particularly the inclusion of Latina women. Author Quiñones says:
“Our basic assumption is that the Holy Spirit can empower anyone who is willing to say yes, and that is the goal of this book as well. If you feel called by Jesus to say something, do something, start something, pray for something—here are these 12 beautiful examples of women in the Bible that did so, and will you do likewise?”
However, Rivera says these stories are not limited to the 12 women Quiñones, Robinson, and Rivera focus their attention on. There are dozens more women in the Bible whose stories they have yet to explore and detail on the written page.
Some women in the Bible have no name. Many led but were left anonymous when their stories were documented.
“They’re leading from these spaces and we’re drawing that out, knowing that some of the people reading this book are going to be coming from spaces where they feel like their voices are silent or they’re not invited,” Robinson says.
Robinson wrote on Deborah. During her research, she says she found commentaries with differing perceptions of Deborah’s role in the Old Testament. Some commentaries claimed Deborah was indeed a judge while others quieted her voice by reporting Deborah judged, but was not an actual judge.
“These are stories in the scriptures we are all invited to learn from and they’re all living out who they are in the context they find themselves in which we know from ancient biblical learning that a lot of that’s very patriarchal. There’s a reason why the bleeding woman doesn’t have a name. I think even those parts of the story within Latino culture, I think there are parts of that we can relate to.”
Need for Latina Voices
Demographically speaking, the Latino population is growing in the United States. But as it grows, what voices do Latinas have to lead and guide them as they become leaders and influencers in this country?
“If they don’t have anyone that they are looking up to, to model leadership, then what kind of communities are we going to be forming and shaping and creating in the United States? I’m really passionate about empowering women from all walks of life. And I think that that’s a big reason why this book is needed,” Quiñones says.
What is one hope these authors have for Hermanas? That readers will respond with a curious and open heart. Read these stories, learn about these women, and learn how to help strengthen the voice of our Latina sisters. In the process, this book might just help strengthen your faith, too.
“I’m stealing this phrase from a friend, but this book strengthens a Latina voice at the multi-ethnic table of God. We’re trying to bring that voice to the table as well,” Robinson says.
Order Hermanas here.
Header photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash.