“Women and girls are on the frontline of persecution. In many parts of the world, they already face discrimination because of their gender, and being a Christian as well creates a double-vulnerability. I am incredibly inspired by these women who have stood firm in their faith and often choose to reach out and serve others, despite the persecution they have faced,” said Lisa Pearce, CEO of Open Doors UK & Ireland.
Rebecca from Nigeria
Rebecca, an Open Doors partner in Nigeria, was forced to flee her home twice to escape an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria – but she has started a small NGO to serve widows and orphans in her city. She said, “We were all refugees at that time, and we all needed help, but I saw that many widows needed more help than I did.” Her team of volunteers are supporting 2,000 widows every month.
Meena* and Sunita* from India
Meena and Sunita are sisters from a Hindu background who decided to follow Jesus. They were beaten by their neighbors for their new faith; Sunita was beaten until she was unconscious, then dragged to the edge of her town. When she awoke, her wrist was broken; a bone was sticking out of it. She had no idea if her sister, Meena, who was also beaten, was alive or dead. She hid in a goat shed and prayed, “I can die or I can witness. Make me a witness for you.”
The sisters survived and found each other – and refused to give up their faith. They now live in a different village, and Open Doors has enabled them to open a small stationery shop to support themselves. Meena said, “Thank you for praying for us and helping us.”
Suaad from Iraq
Suaad is a tailor in Iraq, who was forced to flee her home in Bashiqa to escape the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Now she lives in Erbil, where Open Doors set up a sewing factor through a local church; Suaad is the manager. “I know my brother can barely support his own family now, so whatever I get I share with him,” she said. She teaches other displaced women sewing skills so they can support their families, and also regularly gives away clothes to those in need. “It’s what I like most about the job: that I can share with those in a worse position than me,” she said.
There is a short video about Suaad here.
Asia Bibi from Pakistan
Asia Bibi has been imprisoned in Pakistan since 2009. She was sentenced to death by a Pakistani court for allegedly blaspheming the prophet Mohammed during an argument with local Muslim women, who refused to allow her to draw water from the well. She was the first woman to be sentenced to death under Article 295C of Pakistan’s penal code. This verdict suspended by a higher court in July 2015. She was due to present her final appeal in October 2016, but this was postponed.
Hwa-Young* in China
Hwa-Young has a ministry reaching out to North Korean women who have been trafficked to China. Supporting North Koreans who have left North Korea can be dangerous work, but Hwa-Young said, “I don’t have any fear of death. I’m a single woman, and if it’s necessary I don’t mind dying for this cause.”
Most of the women Hwa-Young supports have been sold into marriage or servitude, and are abused and ill-treated by their new husbands and captors. Through years of experience and work, Hwa-Young has been connecting with these broken women and helping them as they begin to heal from their experiences.