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.

*Name changed

A Safe Place

Sarah* looked right and left to ensure no one was within earshot. Then, with tears in her eyes, she said, “There isn’t a safe place anywhere to share my doubts.”

We had been in conversation for hours as she expressed her fears and doubts about the majority religion here. I had answered many questions about the Way, the Truth and the Life, and Sarah allowed me to pray for her in a private place. During prayer, the Holy Spirit impressed on me John 8:32.

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

I told Sarah what I had heard, and her eyes lit up with joy. This is my deepest longing for the women of this city—that they will know Truth and find freedom through Him.

Despite hardships, God is at work. Sarah and another local seeker had the courage to attend a class with me in a local team member’s home. Through stretching and breathing exercises, Christian music, Scripture meditation, and prayer, I shared the good news.

God has already graciously provided a place for us to establish a wellness program. Interest among local women is building. With your help, we can transform it into an inviting space worthy of the women we will invite!

Our dream is to give women a sense of belonging and access to the love of God. We desire to provide counseling, wellness education, and fitness classes. We will also mentor and train local women to sustain this work.

Please intercede for the young women in our region. And pray for funds to furnish a wellness center that creates a welcoming, safe place for them to gather and be refreshed.

For more resources on the project visit www.alliancewomen.org/resources.

Alliance Women has a goal to raise $13,500 for this learning center. For information  on how you can give to this project, visit www.alliancewomen.org/give.

*Name changed

Disillusioned and Seeking

Frustrated by Restrictions

I had just finished a fitness class with several local women. As we prepared to leave, they began putting on their long dresses and hijabs. One of the ladies, Sarah*, exclaimed, “Christians are so lucky! They don’t have to wear the hijab when it’s so hot outside.”

She then began to complain about the many restrictions in her culture. I empathized with her and agreed that it sure seemed like a lot of rules and regulations.

All of the sudden Sarah burst out and said, “I hate our religion! I hate how unfair it is to women. I hate all the rules. I hate the hypocrisy!” I was taken aback and quickly looked over at her friend, Ruth*, who I knew to be more devout. Ruth didn’t seem shocked by her friend’s outburst.

Sarah continued,  “Ruth doesn’t feel the same way as me.”

“I’m OK with our religion, but, you know, I’m not super strict about it” Ruth said.

I said a quick prayer for guidance before replying, “Even though this is really difficult for you right now, you are in a good place. I am happy that you are honest enough with yourself to be open about your doubts and frustrations. Your honesty will help you get to the next step in your spiritual  journey.”

“Do you really think so?” Sarah asked. “Yes, I do,” I said.

The subject was changed and soon the ladies were on their way home. Although the conversation was brief, I felt that it was enough for that exchange. God had revealed to me a young woman who had become disillusioned with her religion; I prayed that Sarah would soon be ready to hear the good news.

Curious about opportunities

A couple of months  later, Sarah and Ruth expressed again an interest in studying the Bible. They had previously participated in a Bible study with other team members. And they had also regularly attended a small class with a few of my teammates that involved stretching,  Scripture meditation,  and Christian music. Over the next several weeks, the gospel was clearly communicated.

Sarah and Ruth are now comfortable with having regular conversations about their doubts in the majority religion here; both have begun to earnestly study the gospel. Yet they are extremely afraid because of the serious repercussions they will face if any family member suspects their interest in Christianity.

Please continue  to pray for Sarah and Ruth. And pray for funds to furnish a wellness center that will provide a welcoming, safe place for women to gather and be refreshed.  For more resources on the project visit www.alliancewomen.org/resources.

Alliance Women has a goal to raise $13,500 for this wellness center. For information on how to give to this project, visit www.alliancewomen.org/give.

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*Name changed