Above, Sri Lankan women in worship.
March 2021 – As a journalist and magazine editor, Lee Grady’s life was moving along just fine. He was enjoying a fruitful ministry as an author and editor of Charisma magazine, a leading media source that works to inspire Spirit-filled Christians to change the world by spreading the gospel.
Over his career as a Christian journalist, something began to shift within Grady. He experienced a relentless, undeniable nudging that would push him beyond observing and writing about the faith journeys of others.
Grady had always acknowledged the Holy Spirit working through him to inspire others through writing. That same faithful Spirit was now inspiring him to step out in faith himself.
In his travels across the globe, he was often left grieving over abuses he saw, especially the severe mistreatment of women.
“My perspective began to get broader and wider with every trip,” Grady explained to AFA Journal. “That’s when I really began to see how serious an issue this was. I felt the need to respond to the pain I saw.”
But, as an editor of a major Christian magazine, he was pumping out volumes of stories with the potential to move others to action. Wasn’t he already fulfilling his calling?
“In 1998, I had a pretty profound experience,” Grady said. “The Lord had been calling me to surrender to ministry. I didn’t feel confident about it. But then I prayed the most dangerous prayer from Isaiah 6: ‘Here am I, Lord, send me.’”
With every country Grady visited, he saw another facet of the problem: domestic violence, female infanticide, sex and labor trafficking, female genital mutilation, mistreatment of widows, honor killings, 8-year-old girls forced to marry grown men, women required to wear heavy burkas in desert heat, and throwing acid on girls who attended school.
“It was just staring me in the face,” Grady said. “I couldn’t just stand there and not do something. I had to face it head on. It took me surrendering. It was a frightening step.”
The Mordecai Project was officially formed in 2003 under the nonprofit arm of Charisma, and it was later incorporated as its own nonprofit with a mission to confront abuse, empower women, and transform nations through the gospel of Christ. As a result, Grady has ministered in 30 countries where the prevalence of gender-based cruelty toward girls and women has left both men and women with distorted perceptions about the innate value and dignity of God’s crowning creation: male and female, to reflect God’s own relational richness.
In such areas, Grady sets out to communicate the message of Jesus Christ’s victorious sacrifice and intense unconditional love. He starts by reaching out to indigenous churches and building relationships with leaders on the ground.
“They are usually pastors and wives,” he explained. “We identify the needs in their community. Each situation is unique. Sometimes we start small, and other times we lay out a plan for a building project. We get behind it and start raising money for it. The wives often spearhead these projects.”
Local churches are then equipped with funding and guidance to build and operate facilities and offer services to restore the dignity of women: domestic violence shelters, women’s empowerment centers, counseling services, and conferences. With every facet, the ministry seeks to protect, heal, educate, and feed.
Grady realized early on that cultural strongholds created by disparaging views and abusive mindsets toward women cannot be resolved by ministering to women alone. For example, men who saw their own mothers beaten as children are now, as adults, repeating the behavior of their fathers and are in need of biblical discipleship.
“I probably do as many men’s events as women’s now,” Grady said. “We talk a lot about how Jesus views women and how a husband is supposed to treat his wife. In many developing countries, I’ve seen men completely transformed in terms of the way they see their wives, daughters, and women in the community. They suddenly realize how they are dishonoring God by the way they treat women.
“When you address it, men get convicted, and they repent for the anger, the violence, the attitude, and the pride. And they start loving their wives according to Ephesians 5.”
In the Old Testament account of Esther, the Jewish queen of Persia had been given a unique purpose that would change the trajectory of the Jewish people by saving them from certain death. Would she have recognized her calling if her kinsman Mordecai had not spurred her on to embrace boldly the opportunity before her?
Grady believes women have lacked such encouragement to fulfill their God-given purposes in God’s kingdom.
“Mordecai was obviously a man who pushed Esther,” explained Grady. “He encouraged her to step into the battle and use her influence. In a similar way, I want to encourage women to use their gifts and influence.”
Paramount to the example of Mordecai, Grady finds himself referring to the biblical accounts of Jesus to communicate about the special purposes and value of women. He summarized:
When Jesus Christ came to earth 2,000 years ago, He challenged the religious and cultural rules of a male-dominated culture. While rabbis believed it was improper to teach women in the Bible, Jesus called His disciple Mary to sit at His feet. While other religious leaders refused to go near bleeding women, Jesus healed one. While the Pharisees shunned Samaritans and divorced women, Jesus had compassion on the Samaritan divorcee and commissioned her to be an evangelist.
The home front
Grady’s wife Deborah serves as financial director for the ministry, and the couple’s four adult daughters have played a key role in providing insight and motivation for the ministry of the Mordecai Project.
Though his calling is global, he also recognizes that domestic violence exists here in the States.
“It is actually a problem that is sometimes overlooked in churches here in the U.S.,” he explained. “But the scope of this problem is so much bigger when you go somewhere like Bolivia where domestic violence is so prevalent. The statistics are incredibly frightening. Or you go to Africa, Pakistan, and other places like that, and you see the denial of basic human rights.”
The more Grady witnessed these atrocities for himself, the less he could deny God’s calling on his life to act on behalf of vulnerable women around the world. As a result, the gift God had placed within him to communicate in writing was strengthened and given more purpose.
Today’s believers are reminded by the very content of the apostle Paul’s New Testament letters that he did more than write. Paul’s writing was a conduit, a result of his ministry teaching others to understand and obey the Word of God.
And so it is with Lee Grady.
Mordecai on the move
Eleven overseas projects are underway in Pakistan, Peru, India, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, and Guatemala.
Three-day discipleship events are comprised of intense worship, inspirational teaching, and fellowship around meals and through small groups. Emphasis is placed on the key role of relational mentoring consistent with the lifestyle of Jesus.
Grady continues to write for Charisma and is working on his seventh book, focusing on relational discipleship.
Learn more at themordecaiproject.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, or The Mordecai Project, P.O. Box 2781, LaGrange, GA 30241.