Women are commonly seen as the ‘weaker sex’, vulnerable and in need of protection. But many women in the persecuted church have shown us that women can also be courageous and strong in the Lord, choosing to pick up their cross and follow Christ no matter the cost.

PAKISTAN – A PASTOR’S WIFE

At an annual retreat organised by our ALIVE partner for church leaders and their spouses, participants spend some time quietly on their own. A pastor’s wife said, “Sometimes I feel I have to hold it all together so that when my husband comes home he does not have to experience more stress at home. He has to deal with forced conversions, abductions of girls from our church, visits from and to the police… I get tired. Sometimes I just want to take my children and my husband and walk through a closet, like the one in CS Lewis’ Narnia… then I remember I can do that through the Bible and I feel God’s peace flood me and enable me.”

MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA – REBECCA PHILLIP

At a time when few dared to enter Maiduguri because of the rampant violence by Boko Haram, Rebecca helped thousands of widows and orphans with basic needs like food and shelter.

“Many women ended up in IDP camps, alone with their children. They own nothing and do not have any kind of job. Most of them do not have any form of education. That’s why I wanted to help. I felt the need to stand with these women who sometimes fought bitterly to survive.”

QARAQOSH, IRAQ – NOOR

When Noor finally returned home after fleeing the Islamic State three years ago, she was shocked to see the amount of devastation that the extremist group had left behind. Many families had left Iraq for safer countries, but Noor and her husband chose to stay and rebuild their home. She now works in the church’s Reconstruction Committee as an architect.

“Because I love my town and my family, I decided to stay here and work with them to build and reconstruct everything… I work on the information, the data and the registrations. Through that, I can help other families to rebuild and reconstruct their houses. I dream of Qaraqosh, that in the future it will be better than before. Like paradise.”

SOUTHERN EGYPT

Christian women in Egypt have two strikes against them – their faith and their gender – making them doubly vulnerable to persecution and discrimination. To fight against the lies that their society has been telling them, weekly groups for women are held across Egypt. The women seek and find a closer relationship with God and with one another in these groups. When one lady shares about her difficult situation, the other women listen. The burden is shared, tears are shed and healing is possible.

“We share our burdens and pray for each other here. We learn the true meaning of love for one another.”

ODIAH, INDIA – SUNITA DAS (PSEUDONYM)

Sunita and her sister, Meena, were beaten with bamboo sticks by men from their village for being Christians. With her wrist broken, she hid in a goat shed just outside the village and prayed.

“I told [God], ‘I can die or I can witness. Make me a weapon, Lord. Make me a witness for you.’”

Now, the sisters live in another village and encourage other believers with their testimony. They still face persecution, but do it with joy and faith in our Lord.

Meena says, “Before the persecution happened, I didn’t understand how God was so close to us. But He has proven that He is so faithful in His grace and kindness. He has always kept us.”

DOUBLE THE PERSECUTION (MEETINGS IN HK & TAIWAN)

A conversation on how a Christian woman is two times more vulnerable to persecution than a man. 

Open Doors’ groundbreaking research has shown that the persecution that Christians face are specific to their gender, and target their respective areas of weaknesses. The result of this, is that Christian women are twice as vulnerable to persecution, than Christian men are.

Open Doors’ Global Gender Persecution Specialist, Helene Fisher, has seen first-hand the specific effects of persecution on men and women. She has counselled and cared for women who were victims of extreme violence in Central African Republic. Helene also designs programmes to help the women in the persecuted church.

Come and hear from Helene this June about how Christians are targeted around the world for their faith, and their gender. 

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