Crisis, insecurity, famine, conflict, unreached people groups, a forgotten region, nations trapped in spiritual darkness – words often used to describe the Sahel region.
The harsh reality for many women in the Sahel is a lack of education, illiteracy and exploitation through early marriage. According to the UN Gender Inequality Index, countries like Mali, Chad and Niger are at the very lowest ranking in the world for women’s rights. Women are more exposed to poverty issues and bear the burden of domestic work. Women disproportionally suffer from oppressive cultural practices and gender-based violence like female genital mutilation. With the population of Christian believers in Mali at 3 per cent, Niger 1.5 per cent, Senegal 4.5 per cent and 1 per cent in Sudan, there is an intense spiritual heaviness across the region.
The statistics can look bleak, but with Jesus, there is hope. Women in the Sahel have proven to be resilient as they find ways to raise children and survive in such harsh environments. They are often open to the gospel if someone tells them the good news. As women represent about 50 per cent of the population, their potential to impact society is not something to be ignored.
How can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? How can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? How can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent (Romans 10:14-15)?
From the beginning of the world, Jesus has placed great value on women.
God created women in His image. Jesus began His public ministry on earth by honouring the request of His mother, Mary, to turn water into wine at a wedding in Cana. He revealed Himself as the Messiah to a Samaritan woman, and through her, many people believed in Him. Jesus let women sit at His feet to learn from Him and to anoint Him for burial. When He rose from the dead, it was women that were the first to see and hear the good news. Women were together with Jesus throughout His ministry on earth and were also present in the upper room when the Holy Spirit fell and the New Testament Church began.
God is at work
Women’s Empowerment Africa is equipping women in the Sahel to rise to their God-given potential. A little bit of training and coaching can go a long way.
When a woman is holistically empowered to know her identity in Jesus and that she does have value, skills and abilities, she is able to bring great impact to the community around her. God has called all of us to go and make disciples of all nations, and this includes women. Local women need to be raised up and empowered to become vibrant disciples that are actively reaching others around them.
God has been moving the hearts of women, and through recent training from various nations in the Sahel, Women's Empowerment Africa is seeing a new hope stirring among Christian women. A few of the women shared these testimonies:
“I was previously invited to attend Disciple Making Movement trainings together with my husband, but I was never able to fully grasp how it could work for me. Now that it has been taught in a contextualised way, specifically for women, I finally see how it can work. I've discovered that there are different access points for women than for men.”
“As a woman joining my husband in missions, I didn't know what I had to offer or how to reach out to other women, but now I have discovered that I do have specific gifts and abilities that are valuable. I am now confident and equipped to be able to reach out to other women.”
“Before this training, I used to beat my children whenever they did something wrong. Now I no longer beat or scream at my children. I have learnt to be calm and how to show love to them. My husband was shocked to see this change in me.”
“I have already been training many young girls in different skills and trying to do Bible study with them. Now that I have learnt and experienced how powerful Discovery Bible Studies are just through asking questions, I will begin implementing that right away.”
“I have learnt that I need to be sensitive in how I handle girls/ladies that become believers. My focus is no longer on trying to bring people to church, but to disciple them in a way that will minimise persecution for them.”
“Through this training, I personally received inner healing as well as physical healing. I have had fibroids for some time and was scheduled for an operation. During prayer for healing, I felt a complete change in my body and have been healed of the fibroids.”
“I used to think that I should be the one going around connecting with many people in the community. Now I have discovered Jesus' strategy of finding a person of peace is much more effective and will result in multiplication instead of addition.”
Stand with us in prayer for a revival of new Jesus followers to rise up across the Sahel.
“He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'” – Luke 10:2 (NIVUK)
Women’s Empowerment Africa is a catalytic ministry sharing the love of Jesus with the least reached and marginalised women across Africa through physical, spiritual and economic empowerment.