When Latin American women looked for an Anabaptist devotional book written by women in Spanish, they couldn’t find one.
So they created a resource themselves, and did it quickly, moving from idea to completion in about 10 months.
It didn’t matter that they lacked a publisher, an up-front funding source or a precedent in their region for writing about how God works in Anabaptist women’s lives.
It was enough that they were rich in passion and abilities for the task. They moved ahead in faith, led by a team of four women from the Movement of Anabaptist Women doing Theology in Latin America, or MTAL.
By December, they had completed Devocionales 2021, ready for use in January.
The MTAL coordinators invited broad participation, including 232 writers from 21 countries, 28 editors, 10 members of the MTAL Education and Materials Commission and several designers.
Seeking to be inclusive, the coordinators also accepted devotionals in Kekchi, a Guatemalan indigenous language, and Portuguese. These appear in both the original languages and Spanish.
In emails and interviews, the women shared their joy with Linda Shelly, Mennonite Mission Network’s director for Latin America, who engages deeply with MTAL.
Isabel Salamone of Argentina wrote: “Something that seemed far away, almost impossible, came true, I believe, because it was in accordance with God’s will. . . . We set out to work enthusiastically, offering our gifts without reservation.”
The project includes a topic for each month and a focus for each week. January begins with the theme “Living Kingdom Values from the Mennonite Anabaptist Perspective.” December concludes with “Advent.”
“Despite the pandemic, isolation and so much sad news surrounding me, coordinating this project in the Southern Cone [of South America] and also being one of the writers came to me like a balm of hope,” said Ester Bornes of Argentina.
Beatriz Méndez of Cuba described the project as a dream come true.
“I wanted the world to know that God answers our prayers,” she said. “I told the Holy Spirit that I just wanted to be a channel of blessings for hundreds of women who would read these reflections daily.”
When the work was finished in electronic format, MTAL held virtual meetings with the writers to celebrate.
“It was a great privilege for me to participate in these times of gratitude and reflection,” Shelly said. “I am very happy to be able to share this great resource developed by MTAL.”
Devocionales 2021 is now available in the Biblioteca Digital Anabautista (Anabaptist Digital Library). Also, Marisol Arriaga, from Mexico, opened a Facebook page, called Libro Devocional MTAL, to share the daily devotionals.
Although the digital format is very useful, it is not accessible for everyone. MTAL women in some countries printed copies for women without digital access. Karen Flores of Honduras printed copies on her own home printer.
“I felt God’s call to deliver the copies quickly, so they could be distributed in different places in Honduras, at the lowest possible cost,” Flores said. “With the help of my parents, I delivered 105 devotionals in 14 days.”
A month into using the devotional book, Llansee Dueñas of Honduras/Guatemala said: “It was liberating to be able to collaborate for a devotional book full of the current reality that Latin American women live. Along with that was the joy from comments by young women who have felt identified and heard.”