When I first read Lebogang K Maruapula' blog, I knew I wanted to interview her for Inside Woman Online. She is beautiful, exudes confident and she loves Jesus. Like all of us, Lebogang struggled to understand God and His love and purpose for our lives. But God in His infinite Mercy and Grace, drew Lebogang to Himself. And since her encounter with the Lord, she has never looked back. She presses ahead in faith and truth, trusting God to guide her. She keeps buys as the CEO of EBAT Media in Botswana, a company that manages Digital Media and Social Media on behalf of clients. She also belongs to the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers. She loves philanthropy work and as the co-founder of the GODDESS Foundation she spends her time on the empowerment of the girl child and young women. She also fulfills her role as a married woman. Here is our heart to heart interview with her.
Inside Woman: How did you come to know Christ as your personal Saviour?
Lebogang K Maruapula: I grew up not really being a spiritual person. I just went about my life and did whatever I wanted, whenever. But I came to a point in my life when I felt an overwhelming sense of emptiness; I really wanted to know why I was placed on this earth. My feet led me to Church one morning when I couldn't go another day of being in an abyss and I found my personal Saviour Jesus Christ.
Inside Woman: How has the relationship been like so far?
Lebogang K Maruapula: This has been the hardest choice I have ever made, it is a long road but I have to say that it is the best thing that has ever happened to me. At any given moment, I don’t doubt God’s love for me; I have a deep sense of being anchored in love and the right things. I honestly feel like I have been rewired. The things I used to find joy in , I have no interest in and I feel like I have a moral chip in me that just guides me and shows me right from wrong. I do stumble….a LOT.. but when I do wrong, I am now more aware and conscious. I can pray for forgiveness, whereas I used to either be ignorant or arrogantly defend my ways.
Inside Woman: On your blog you say that you are an ex doubter? What did you mean by that?
Lebogang K Maruapula: I, just like anyone would have always doubted God’s existence, always wondered things like if there was God why would there be so much hate and pain in the world. I wanted evidence. I wanted God to really prove to me that He exists. I am also a very analytical person by nature and I’m always inquisitive about issues…so I also questioned motives of Churches and allowed that to keep me away from having my own relationship with Christ Jesus.
Inside Woman: How then did you find your way back to God?
Lebogang K Maruapula: I really needed to return back to the source of life since I felt I was being depleted of life everyday and I was going deeper and deeper into that sense of nothingness and sadness. I took the first step of trying to seek God’s face and He showed Himself to me. He revealed to me the answers that I had been looking for all my life. My best friend encouraged me to visit her Church. At first I used to tell her I wanted nothing to do with Church, indoctrination, brainwashing and a system that wouldn’t allow me to be myself. I went there and in the first service I really wept because It was as though this was the moment that God had been waiting for. God kept calling me back to Church, using it so that I can have a real intimate relationship with Christ.
Inside Woman: What have you learned from that whole experience, running away from God and then having Him take you back with open arms?
Lebogang K Maruapula: I believe that all humans are looking to go back to the source of life- God. We may call it different things and we all ought to be tolerant of others. But my life is such a testimony that no matter how long one runs and hides and gives excuses for why they can’t come to God, we only hurt ourselves more and the longer we go without knowing God the deeper, more raw and larger the wound grows, and when we go back He welcomes us with love like the prodigal son.
Inside Woman: What do you say to people who are facing those struggles right now like you did?
Lebogang K Maruapula: I would encourage them to seek the face of God, their maker, to not allow the noise of the world to cloud them and keep them away from the best relationship that they could ever have. They also shouldn’t allow the ways of ‘Christians’ to keep them away from knowing Christ, it’s not about anyone else but your own salvation. And when I say Salvation, I do not mean just everlasting life in Christ, but Salvation from the opinions of others and a sense of helplessness or lack of purpose.
Inside Woman: How do you live out your convictions in a society with so many different convictions?
Lebogang K Maruapula: It’s simple for me - I know who my Father is. When in doubt, I open the Bible and I find my answers there. The Bible touches on every issue of life I tell you. I also find my answers in prayer, things get revealed to me in the secret place.
Inside Woman: Why are you not ashamed to share your faith with others?
Lebogang K Maruapula: I know what God has done for me. I can never be ashamed of where my strength comes from. One of my favourite women in Christ Juanita Bynum once said; “If you don’t know my pain you can never understand my praise” …because I know what God has done for me and where he has brought me from, I can never be ashamed to tell my story. In fact, I want to share it!
Inside Woman: Why is it important for you to read and study the Word of God?
Lebogang K Maruapula: It keeps me anchored. You find that anyone can twist verses and parts of scripture without reading it in its entire context to push their own agenda, so I need to read it for myself so that I can know what God says. It’s the only place where the truth lies. I am also very much against robotic Christianity which turns people into unthinking and unquestioning sheep. I believe in asking, challenging and questioning God… If God doesn’t have the answers who will?
Inside Woman: What role does prayer play in your life?
Lebogang K Maruapula: It’s my daily bread. I pray daily but I also have conversations with God a lot- while I’m driving, while in the shower or whenever else.
Inside Woman: Do you have a spiritual mother and what role have they played in your spiritual life?
Lebogang K Maruapula: I am praying that God will send an amazing, insightful, wise, prayerful and strong woman of God my way. I have such a strong character and often want to go deeper in issues which mean my spiritual mother has to be dynamite in God.
Inside Woman: Why do you think it’s important to surround yourself with matured people in your walk with Christ?
Lebogang K Maruapula: This road we can’t walk alone and we can’t walk it blindly without the guidance and help of those who have been on it longer. I find that I learn simple things like how to pray an impactful prayer from those who have known Christ longer. Everyone needs mentorship.
Inside Woman: What has God been teaching you about self love?
Lebogang K Maruapula: If God can love me with all my imperfections, ill-thoughts, ill-doings and sometimes ugliness, how can I dare not love myself? He said I am creation of perfection in Him- who am I to doubt that?
Inside Woman: And what about love for other people?
Lebogang K Maruapula: The whole teaching of Christ is based on Love. God himself is Love. “Whoever claims to love yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister whom they have seen, cannot love God, who they have not seen”~ 1 John 4:20
That is one of the greatest teachings of the Bible…How can I stand here and claim to love God when I cannot love my sisters and brothers? It is also the hardest thing to do.
I do admit though that God is still doing much work in me, as I do find myself getting feelings of less than love for some sometimes, I’m a work in progress… until the day He perfects me.
Inside Woman: Forgiveness is central to the message of the Cross. Yet many of us struggle to forgive those who have wronged us. What do you think to?
Lebogang K Maruapula: Luckily for me, I’m not a person who knows how to stay angry or harbour feelings for long. However, I do think that some people can keep bringing hurt into your life and it’s ok to love them from a distance. However, one has to let go of poisonous feelings as they are more harmful to you than the person who has wronged you. It’s important to learn to let things go and forgive, sometimes its deep-rooted issues but we still need to learn to forgive. It’s what Christ requires of us, and it’s just a happier and healthier way to live. Let your experiences make you better, not bitter.
Inside Woman: If you had to preach one message to women, what would it be and why?
Lebogang K Maruapula: I think women really need to learn to love themselves and one another. Because Christ loves us, he has given us permission to love ourselves. I have also come across the reality that a lot of women do not wish each other well and are in senseless competition with one another. I believe that a woman, who has love, knows that her love can never be depleted from her, which is why she gives it and shares it sparingly. She also knows that we don’t share blessings; therefore God can’t bless us with what belongs to the next woman, so things like jealousy and envy are really a waste of time and a big insult to God.
Inside Woman: When you close your eyes and see an empowered woman, what do you see?
Lebogang K Maruapula: I see a woman who knows her power and stance in God. She knows her ability in her career and her society. She knows that her words and actions are seeds that she sows so she uses them in a way that builds and does not tear down. I see a woman, who balances her life; who knows that family is just as important as having a successful career. I also see a woman who does not feel diminished by her role to nurture and serve but feels empowered by it. I see a woman who serves as much as she leads.
Inside Woman: What is the one challenge that you believe Christian women are faced with and how do we overcome that?
Lebogang K Maruapula: I think a lot of Christian women are conflicted especially when it comes to issues of character. This especially comes when you have led your own life before and you become born again. Women sometimes feel conflicted with which aspects of their characters they need to let go of and which to remain with. I think if you let God lead, you will be able to know. Also, being a Christian does not mean to be meek, defenceless and never standing up for your beliefs. Too many Christian women develop meek characters which end up destroying their spirits, while we cannot fight in the same way as when we were of the world, it’s important to maintain your values and beliefs.
Inside Woman: You describe yourself as public relations practitioner. Do you believe this is your call in life?
Lebogang K Maruapula: I think it is a much needed pathway towards my calling. My career in PR has taught me so much, so many invaluable lessons which have given me access to so many opportunities. I have learnt to express and articulate myself in a diplomatic yet honest way, I have learnt emotional intelligence. I have learnt strategic communication. I have always been a go-getter but my career has made me even more fearless. My calling however, is elsewhere and I’m working on getting there… by God’s grace.
Inside Woman: What do you say to women who are struggling with the confidence to break out and be all that God has called them to be?
Lebogang K Maruapula: We just need to remember that God did not give us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power and love and discipline. If you have fear, just know its not from God, pray on it and be conscious of when it crops up so you can face it head on and diminish it. Often times, the very thing you fear is the very thing you need to do.
Inside Woman: Why is so hard for women to just love themselves as single people?
Lebogang K Maruapula: I think society has made women believe that they are not good enough or something is wrong with them if they are single. Our desperation even leads us to being the other woman in relationships just so that we can have somebody. But I think there’s everything wrong with the mind of a woman who cannot be alone and would rather be in an unhealthy relationship. These women need healing and a stronger sense of self. I know women who have everything going for them… and yet the women jump from one dysfunctional relationship to another. These women seriously need to introspect and ask for a sense of completion and wholeness in God.
Inside Woman: What have you learnt about being a godly married woman?
Lebogang K Maruapula: I really believe that God is the main force that keeps our marriage together. Marriage is such a wonderful yet very difficult journey which I honestly believe no man or woman can 'keep it together' on their own. Show me a marriage without God in it and I will show you an impeding divorce. My husband and I are both God lovers, which we weren't before, it is the best thing to have ever happened to our partnership. There's a reigning sense of peace no matter what we go through socially, economically or otherwise in our household and I think its just God. Its a peace we didn't know before we knew God. Oh and we rarely ever fight! LOL!
Inside Woman: Is marriage everything you thought it would be?
Lebogang K Maruapula: I got married so young... at 24, so my whole perspective on life has changed. Nothing about my life is what I thought it would be. I had many illusions of grandeur about life in general and I didn't quite think about the kind of work that goes into every area of life to make it work. To have a successful marriage you need to work at it, have dedication and commitment to make it work no matter what. Above and beyond that marriage gets better with age. I have found that the connection I have with my husband gets deeper and becomes an honest comfortable zone as we grow together. I think its because we grow to learn about each other better. And the older I get, despite every thing else we've gone through in our marriage, the more I just know that God has blessed me with the right man for this path. He his absolutely, totally and entirely committed to me and I am just at peace.
Inside Woman: What can women do to allow the Holy Spirit to empower them, to set them free from the burdens that are placed on them by society?
Lebogang K Maruapula: The Holy Spirit is gentle, so one has to be open and inviting.
Inside Woman: You are handling success so well. What do you say to women who are broken, confused, women who are feeling delusional? What do you say to them about God?
Lebogang K Maruapula: LOL! I really would not say I’m successful…yet. Maybe I exude success because I believe in myself to be so and will it for myself. They say be as you want to be and not as you are. Nonetheless I’d like to say that God is the ultimate strength and solace, He the source of all healing and straight paths. When you give your life to God, He really does perfect all that concerns you.
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