Bicycles and New Beginnings
Although COVID restrictions shut our programs down, God has increasingly opened doors for other ways to connect with locals. Naomi*, 17, who had participated in my English class, began riding bikes with me. Many young women in our community are interested in cycling, but this activity pushes cultural boundaries. Some face harassment and punishment from their families for participating.
Naomi and I have become quite close during this last year. One day, she came to my house crying. She had been so excited to share a cycling-related business plan with her father. But he told her she couldn’t ride bikes anymore—it was time for her to grow up and think about getting married. He also told her she could go to university, but her degree would just be for show. Naomi would never be allowed to do anything with her degree or follow her future dreams. She was devastated.
All I could do was sit with Naomi and share in her pain.
A few month later, Naomi told me that she needed to have surgery. I asked if I could visit her afterward, and she agreed. A couple hours after the surgery, I visited Naomi and her family in their home. It was a wonderful visit, but I could tell her parents were a cool toward me; they were kind but reserved, despite my best efforts to connect. I represent the West and Western values.
And I was the one who had encouraged their daughter to ride a bicycle, which is considered shameful in their culture.
As I went to bed that night, I felt discouraged about Naomi’s family ever being open to the gospel. As I was praying, God brought to my mind a story the family had shared during my visit. When they had moved into their neighborhood seven years prior, a family from the center brought them flowers and gifts and welcomed them. When I later asked my colleagues about this exchange, I discovered that they were the Alliance couple who had started our women’s jewelry-making business eight years earlier!
I began to realize that if this couple had taken the time to welcome Naomi’s family, they had probably prayed for them. Eight years later, I’m connected with this same family and have a friendship with Naomi. I have great hope that God is working here, particularly in my friend’s life. Naomi and I have had many conversations about the gospel. She dreams of a future with more freedom.
It can’t be a coincidence that—of all the young women in our city—I ended up befriending Naomi. Please pray that Naomi and her family will open their hearts to the light and love of the Father.
Alliance Women has a goal to raise $13,500 for a wellness center that creates a welcoming, safe place where young women, like Naomi, can gather and be refreshed. For more resources on the project visit www.alliancewomen.org/resources.
For more information on how to give to this project, visit www.alliancewomen.org/give.