Everything had started so well. My husband was confident in God’s calling for him to be a pastor, even though we knew that it would mean leaving behind a secure job. The job did not make us rich, but life was stable. I was pregnant with our second child. Our young church was growing, and people were being changed by the Gospel. But then the unthinkable happened; another leader took over the church, and our job and church were gone. We had nothing except God and each other, so we trusted that God had a plan we could not yet see. As we struggled to find God’s leading, I suggested to my husband that maybe God would have us help the women of our city.
In our South Asian community, we were surrounded by women living oppressed and marginalized lives; many of whom were illiterate or poorly educated, bound to living isolated lives inside their homes. Those who did find some type of employment often suffered sexual abuse as terms of employment. For those who could not find employment, prostitution or marrying a man of the majority faith – in direct opposition to their own faith – was the only option to have any support.
I know all too well the difficulty facing women in my country. I have faced this first-hand, but because of my upbringing and the loving support of my husband I have been spared. Even though our first church plant fell through, I knew there were things that could and should be done to advance the hope of the Gospel in our community. Most importantly, I also understood that the only effective way for a woman to ever hear the good news of Jesus was from another woman. Our mission became: Women reaching women, children and families.
So at seven-months pregnant, my husband and I took to the streets going door to door inviting women to join us for training in sewing skills and to learn to what it means to follow Jesus. In the next few weeks, God would take us on an incredible journey. As we went door to door seeking women in need, a woman told us of people living in deep poverty; purchased out of slavery, but who now had no means to support themselves. We were poor ourselves and did not know what we could do, but we went back home and shared their story with others and then watched God work. As we told our friends what they had seen, their hearts were touched as well. The began to give us food and a little clothing. Soon we had enough to return with small gifts for every single family in the community. The people were so happy to receive them. They felt loved, and we fell in love with them.
Soon after we went door to door, we opened a small training center in our home, where women could meet together and learn how to sew. Other women came and offered to teach cosmetology. The number of women coming to us asking to be vocationally trained increased every week. Almost a decade has passed, and today we have two centers with over 140 women enrolled in vocational training in either sewing or cosmetology, as well as classes in Biblical studies and literacy. We have named our ministry Shama Women. In my language, shama means candle. Many of the women in training at our centers have found their purpose and identity in Jesus, and are shining the light of His love brightly for their communities to see.
For women of a minority faith, life is especially difficult. My work is to help these women and it involves telling their stories. It is very easy to believe that no one hears and no one cares…even God. But we know that is not true. We know that God cares and so do His people. And so, we are eager to tell you the stories. Stories that will help change lives. So, will you help me tell their stories? You can be a part of changing lives and we believe that your life will be changed as well. Because sometimes, just sharing a story can change the world.