Oppressed women living in poverty are coming to faith in Jesus Christ.
Going to work can be dangerous for women in the South Asian country where Fareeha* lives. Many women risk abuse and exploitation by their supervisors as they clean homes or toil in factories.
Fareeha’s tenacious spirit is not appreciated in a country where females are expected to blend in and accept the majority culture’s oppressive stance toward women. In addition, her faith in Jesus Christ receives little applause in a nation where Christians make up only 2 percent of the population.
Instead of settling for the status quo, Fareeha and her husband, Amin*, are fulfilling their dream of helping South Asian women through vocational training and discipleship. The small sewing operation they started 10 years ago has transformed into a center where more than 400 women have received training in cosmetology, parenting skills, literacy, and health and hygiene.
Samaritan’s Purse has helped support the training center where women are not only taught vocational skills that help them get better jobs or even start their business, but they’re also hearing the Gospel and responding in faith.
“Women are not second-class creations,” said Amin, a church planter and regional Operation Christmas Child coordinator. “Our goal is to equip them to share about Christ in the marketplace.”
To do that, Amin said they’re breaking social boundaries in order to lift women out of poverty and abuse and give them an opportunity to learn about Jesus.
Restoring Dignity and Reviving Hope
Amin and Fareeha felt especially compelled to reach women from Christian cultural backgrounds because they’re persecuted for a faith they hardly know. Many Christians in their country are nominal and know very little about the Gospel or what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.
But that cultural background puts them at the bottom of a social ladder that’s unforgiving to anyone not at the top.
At first their task seemed overwhelming.
“We didn’t have anything. We just had the Word and the vision,” Amin said. They learned, however, that it was more than enough.
The training center began with sewing and cosmetology classes, and as more women expressed interest in the center, a literacy program was added. Women heard the Gospel from their teachers, and as interest in the Bible increased, theology classes were also offered.
Nearly all the women who come to the center live in poverty and make their homes in the slums. Even the monthly $1 fee to attend classes can be a budget strain.
Some women have endured physical abuse from their husbands. Some drop out of class because of family pressure.
The women have never been told they’re valuable or offered any reason to hope for a different future. This is why it’s so important to Amin and Fareeha, and teachers at the training center, to help women understand their identity and purpose in Christ.
A Vision to Do More
Amin’s sister, Nasim*, attended classes at the center and then taught there several years. She saw how God was using the center and wanted to give women in her community—a very dangerous and poor area—the same opportunities.
“[Where I live] women have little opportunities to learn. Because of poverty, illiteracy, and lack of knowledge of God, many women choose evil paths or marry outside their faith,” she explained.
With the help of others in the community, Nasim renovated an old building to start her own center for sewing and cosmetology classes. Nearly 100 women are attending classes and also Bible studies. Last year, about 30 women total from Nasim’s training center and Fareeha and Amin’s center came to faith in Jesus and were baptized.
Nasim and her husband have now started a church among training center participants and their families. Her husband even joined a Bible institute and is working toward earning a degree so he is better equipped to lead their new congregation.
Raising Up Evangelists
For two years Sitara* came to the training center and participated in the literacy program. The oldest in her family, she wanted an education so she could help provide for her family. As Sitara learned to read, she also learned about God and the Bible, and received Jesus as her Savior and was baptized.
After the literacy program, Sitara attended theology classes at the center and is now a Sunday School teacher. She is on a prayer team at her church and enjoys sharing her faith with others.
Please pray for women like Sitara who have come to faith in Jesus through the witness of teachers at these two training centers. Pray for God to give them boldness to share the Gospel. Pray that more South Asian women will hear the Gospel and will know they are loved and valued by God.
*Names changed for security.