What if we said that women’s ministry is not just for women? It’s also for men.
Though this blog is about women, and highlighting women’s ministry, it still concerns men – especially men that have any women in their life, whether that be a mother, sister, wife, daughter, aunt or friend.
Women’s ministry is not about excluding men, but making sure we are including women.
As we mark International Women’s Day, 8 March 2016, we want to highlight some of the issues Christian women are facing around the world because of their faith in Jesus.
Some women have had their husbands taken away from them – either imprisoned or even killed for their witness to Christ in their community. Some women are abused or kicked out of their home because they refuse to give up their faith in Jesus. Some women struggle daily to look after themselves and their children, because they are uneducated and have no options for work. Some women are arrested and imprisoned for their involvement in Christian ministry.
Some women, like Kiran, Shamroza and Sumbal in Pakistan, are targeted because of their faith.
These three young women were walking home one evening recently when a car full of young drunk men approached them. The men were calling out to the women making it very clear what they wanted.
The men insisted that the girls get in the car and join them ‘for some dirty fun’ but the girls refused.
The women replied boldly, “We are Christians and our bodies belong to God; sex is only for marriage and within marriage. Nothing you offer us will make us come to you. This is not how we were brought up and taught.”
Their boldness angered the men and they became even more violent – driving aggressively towards them, screaming, “Christian sweeper girls do not have the right to run away from us! You have only one purpose and that is to please us!”
The men continued to drive the car towards the women, who started running away. As the car hit them, Shamroza and Sumbal were thrown from the road, breaking their hips and ribs. Kiran was thrown off the front of the car onto the road. Tragically Kiran suffered multiple skull fractures, severe internal bleeding and other injuries, resulting in her death.
Since this heartbreaking incident, the women’s families have tried to fight for justice. However, local police are reluctant to act and may have been threatened or bribed to keep quiet.
Shamroza and Sumbal, although thankful to God that they are still alive, cannot understand why they would be targeted like this and why their friend had to die.
It is very difficult in this region to see legal cases, especially against Christians, actually resolved. This case is just one of many. There are countless other Christian women tempted to believe the lie that their duty is to please Muslim men.
There is a fairly common view among Pakistani Muslims, even educated and well-off citizens, that Christians have no honour or rights in society and exist to serve Muslims. It challenges women in Pakistan to consider their value and purpose.
An Open Doors contact told us about the work they do in Pakistan, educating Christian women on identity in Christ, self-esteem and body image. Our intention is to strengthen their faith and equip them to stand firm in the midst of persecution, just like Shamroza, Sumbal and Kiran were able to do.
One of the workers shared, “We cannot change every Muslim man’s thinking, but we can reach as many of our girls and remind them that they do not have to let men use them and that they are precious to Jesus. Almost nine out of ten girls who come… have never thought about the fact that they are precious to Jesus. What these girls did was brave. What these girls did was something the church the world over needs to know about.”
Open Doors works with women in these types of situations all around the world to provide emotional and spiritual support so that they can be encouraged to stand firm in their faith.
This post was written by Marissa, Open Doors Australia Women’s Coordinator. Open Doors Women resources women’s groups in Australia to pray for, learn from and encourage their persecuted sisters globally. Contact Marissa at firstname.lastname@example.org
The church in Pakistan, and indeed globally, need our prayers for the protection of women, as well as for teaching all Christians about where the true purpose and identity of daughters of the King lies – in Him!
Check out our current Facebook series sharing stories from persecuted women around the world.