After nearly ten years of service to USP, Margaret has shifted within Uganda Christian University and is the new Financial Aid officer. While we will miss her dearly at USP, we celebrate her new position are confident she will bring great energy and enthusiasm to the Financial Aid office.
by: Abby Bartels
I have been in bible studies where people say that the Proverbs 31 woman is a representative symbol of the multitude of gifts that women offer to the home and society.
But having lived in Africa, I have met African women who singularly seem to embody the virtues of the Proverbs 31 woman.
Margaret Opol is one of those women that I’ve been privileged to know well for more than a decade.
Let me break down some verses from Proverbs 31 and give the Margaret manifestation:
Marriage: “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”
If you know Sam and Margaret, you know that she is a trustworthy wife—here at UCU but also in their home place, Serere. Together, they are respected and valued for their contributions in the public sphere and for their work in their private and interpersonal commitments.
Work ethic: She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.
I remember long ago when Mark was in Serere and Margaret went to fetch water. Mark was reasoning with her about how her time might be worth more than the labor of fetching water, but with hearty laugh, Margaret explained that there is still gain in physical labor especially when it provides for the family. Anyone who has been with Margaret in the village knows that she works physically and mentally to provide for the family and the community in that place.
Strategic/businesslike: She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
Both in physical management of their resources in Soroti and Mukono, but also in the mental strategy of building up her communities, Margaret is very strategic. Because she is so strong in interpersonal skills, people can be surprised how that she enjoys/thrives in business. She has masters in management with a focus on finance and she has brought those skills to USP. She will surely be an asset to the scholarships office due to this somewhat unique combination of strengths—rational strategy and interpersonal warmth.
Compassion: She opens her hands to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
Margaret exhibits her compassion in daily interpersonal ways but also in a bigger picture way by building a school in Serere. Margaret has shared about her own upbringing without resources and it is clear that her genuine compassion and hope stems from her own experience of being faithful with all the non-material assets God has given her. Because of her own experience, she does offer real wisdom, compassion and encouragement to others who suffer from emotional losses or from lack of opportunity. The school in Serere represents a sort of pro-active compassion that allows for opportunity before children suffer for lack of it.
Good-humoured/Grounded: Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
I suspect that part of Margaret’s strength and humor comes from her family background—I know I’ve heard her tell stories of her mother’s strength and care for the family. This inheritance of joy and strength and dignity are defining parts of what I’ve seen in Margaret’s character and personality. If you haven’t heard Margaret laugh heartily, you are certainly missing out. She handles the present stresses gracefully and I know that she has the internal resources to face the trials that life will bring—grounded in faith, hope and love.
Counselor/wisdom: She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
Everyone at USP used to laugh at the line of people coming to Margaret for counsel. Her warmth, compassion and wisdom make her a natural well-spring of encouragement and guidance for many of us who need counsel at certain points in our life. Not only is she sought after for private counsel, but Margaret is a coveted speaker for women’s events, conferences and church gatherings. While we mourn the loss of her at USP, we do know that her role with scholarships will maximize the interpersonal wisdom and the wise decision-making that we’ve seen in Margaret over the years.
Mother: Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.
It is clear that the Opol children do adore and respect their mother. But it is also clear that their gifts, personalities and characters are beneficiaries of the love and commitment that Margaret and Sam have poured into them. I personally can’t wait to see the fruits that will be apparent in the lives of their children who have such unique, fun, loving, intelligent, funny, and kind natures.
I remember first meeting Sam and Margaret 12 years ago at a mission conference in the US when Janice was less than 2—it has been a unique personal joy to watch their family grow in the love and nurture of the Lord all these years.
Known by her fruits:
And her husband, and her family, and her work family, and her extended community praise her, saying:
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is in vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”
From every sphere of Margaret’s life, I know there are fruits of her hands that “praise her in the gates”. In her marriage, in her family, in her Christian fellowship, her work community, her extended family and the village community, in the lives of all she’s counseled, encouraged and supported, let them rise up and praise her in the gates. I feel privileged in my little way, a blogpost, I get to join those in the gates and thank God for the life and ministry of Margaret Opol.
Margaret and Sam with their twins, Treasure and Favor.