Bring the hope of the Bible to Women

Globally, women and girls make up half the world’s population. Yet, around the world women and girls are over-represented in statistics relating to poverty, lack of access to education, gender-based violence, and inequality in the workforce.

The Bible Societies of India, Pakistan, and northern Israel are working to change the lives of women by bringing them fresh Hope from the Bible, empowering them with new skills, and lifting them up out of oppression. They are working to address Bible Poverty, and to encourage Bible Engagement and Bible Literacy among oppressed women.

Will you prayerfully consider supporting this work?

Here is the impact your gift will have:

  • India – your gift will provide Bible engagement workshops to widows and suffering women.
  • Pakistan – your will help to deliver literacy programmes to illiterate Christian women.
  • Northern Israel – your gift will provide workshops and conferences to oppressed women.

Yes, I would like to bring the hope of the Bible to marginalised and oppressed women in India, Pakistan, and northern Israel.

Pakistan

Pakistani women reading their literacy books.

Despite constitutional guarantees of religious freedom, Christians in Pakistan are treated as second-class citizens. Largely uneducated, they work as street sweepers, trash collectors, farm hands, or doing menial labouring. For women this situation is even worse. One area that women fall well behind in is that of literacy.

Women’s literacy rates vary throughout the country – from 62 per cent in the capital city of Islamabad, to less than 20 per cent in some rural areas. Christian women, who live in the rural areas and slums, are most likely to be illiterate. Without the basic skills of reading and writing, social and economic opportunities are limited.

Pakistan Bible Society’s ‘Beacon in the Darkness of Illiteracy’ programme teaches Christian women the skills they need to read, write, and understand the Bible, leading to spiritual growth and development for themselves and their whole family. The programme equips them to impact their communities and encourage the next generation of girls towards education.

“Culturally, mothers are pivotal in Pakistan, responsible for passing on their knowledge to their children. The generational impact is unstoppable,” says a supervisor of the literacy programme.

Since the programme began in 2014, 52,174 women have graduated from the course. In 2021, despite the pandemic, over 5,000 women completed literacy courses. In 2022, they are aiming to reach 3,500 – 4,500 women.

TESTIMONY — BEENA

One woman who has benefitted from the programme is 76-year-old Beena. She is a widow with eight children and twenty-seven grandchildren. She lives in Jamrud about thirty-six kilometres to the west of Peshawar city.

A few years ago, this area was a rebellious one with a system of rule known as the JARGA system whereby a group of elders passed judgments and made decisions. Women were not allowed to go outside without being accompanied by a male relative, and they had to wear the burqa. There were no schools for girls in this region and education for women was impossible. However, in 2014 the Pakistan Army took over this area freeing it from the JARGA system and making it a district of Peshawar.

“There are very few Christians in this area. I was very fond of education from my childhood, but I did not have an opportunity to learn to read and write. I worked for 46 years in a hospital as a cleaner and I retired in 2007,” says Beena.

“In January 2022, our pastor came to our home and shared that Pakistan Bible Society is starting adult literacy classes in the church. He also said that his wife will teach the classes.

“I went to my eldest son and asked if he will allow us, me, my daughters-in-law, and granddaughters, to join the classes. In spite of the fact that the JARGA system is finished, my son went to the JARGA leader to seek permission to start the adult literacy classes and for the women of his family to be able to join them. The leader did allow it with some conditions.

“We started our classes in February 2022. I am thankful to the Lord that eleven women from my family are now able to read the Bible. We started a Bible study group in the family, and we are reading at least two to three chapters daily,” says Beena.

India

Women praying at a Bible engagement workshop.

Meanwhile in India, the Bible Society of India (BSI) is reaching out to Christian widows and suffering women, who are affected by domestic violence or have been deserted by their husbands, with Bible engagement workshops.

It is a country of 1.4 billion people with an estimated 40 million widows. Unfortunately, many women marry young and then become widows at a young age because their husbands die from alcoholism or workplace accidents. Widows are frequently rejected by their families. They are subjected to a lifetime of abuse, humiliation, and poverty. Without any means of earning a living, they are forced to beg on the streets or turn to prostitution for survival.

The Bible Society of India’s programme for widows and suffering women is run through its Church, Public Relations and Resource Mobilisation Department, with the assistance of volunteers from its 17 Auxiliaries, the Central Office in Bangalore, and in partnership with churches and Christian organisations.

It brings widows and suffering women together where they are able to share, pray, learn, fellowship, and encourage one another. It provides a Bible-based perspective on their lives and empowers them to lead God-centred, meaningful lives where they can help others come to know Jesus Christ. It teaches skills such as pickle making, candle making and growing vegetables. It provides practical assistance such as vocational training, health check-ups, legal assistance, and counselling.

“I thank God for BSI’s vision for widows. Everybody knows about this. Widows are empowered with love and care through God’s Word,” says Mrs Sheela Isaac, a retired school principal. In 2022, BSI aims to reach 3,000 widows through the programme. Each widow will reach at least two more women meaning that 9,000 women will be impacted in total.

TESTIMONY — MARIAMA

“I am a beneficiary of BSI’s ‘widows and suffering women’s’ project. I was married young. My husband was 14 years older than me. He was a God-fearing man but addicted to alcohol due to poverty in his family. Being the eldest in his family, he had to bring up his seven siblings as his parents had a very meagre income,” says Mariama.

“Although he loved me and our three sons, he used to beat me up whenever he was drunk. This continued for ten years. He died at the age of thirty five. As a young widow, I suffered a lot. I worked in different homes as a maid servant. I am now forty-five years old. I am working in a well-to-do Christian family home. They have sent my children to boarding school and are educating them. They take part of my salary to go towards my children’s education. I am grateful to God and give him the glory!” says Mariama.

Northern Israel

People taking part in a Bible conference in northern Israel.

The Arab Israeli Bible Society (AIBS) is based in Nazareth with its mission focusing on families and women. There are several groups living in Israel. They include Arab-Israelis who constitute more than 20 per cent of the citizens of Israel. Arab citizens of Israel include Muslims, Druze, as well as Christians with the number of Arab Christians estimated to be 140,000 people.

Arab women who are citizens of Israel encounter several difficulties in a patriarchal society and in a country that is marked with many conflicts. Nevertheless, they are a great force for extending the kingdom of God.

Through its ‘Magdalena: Empowering Women and Families through Scripture Engagement’ project, the Arab Israeli Bible Society is providing Scripture resources and organising annual community events for women. Already this year, it has conducted twelve workshops in eight churches in Galilee for women and families, and three conferences. The workshops cover a range of issues, including communication, anger, forgiveness, reconciliation, family unity, and a parent’s responsibility to pass their faith on to their children. Bible Society aims to reach 4,000 women this year.

“The Arab Israeli Bible Society is dealing with important issues in our daily lives and faith that we, as women, need to deal with. We would like you to help us and to use your programmes to benefit all the women who are coming to the club,” said the Director of the Em Nizar club for women from the Greek Orthodox Church in Nazareth.

Bible Society also produces a biblical family magazine for women. This year, it will distribute 6,000 copies. Already, it has distributed 1,270 Scripture selections entitled, “Thank You Mother” and audio Bibles at Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day events.



TESTIMONY — CAWTHAR

Cawthar lives in a small village in northern Galilee. She was forced into an arranged marriage with her cousin who was an alcoholic. She was miserable, but her family would not help her.

The only escape she could find was to try and take her own life. Then she called out to God, asking him, “if you exist, how can you let me live like this?” Cawthar met a neighbour who invited her to a Bible Study group. Exhausted from her situation she asked the group to pray for her.

By this time her husband had been put in prison. His family cut off the electricity, and she wasn’t able to cook. She couldn’t find a job and again, her family refused to help her. But when she prayed, she felt relief. She kept praying. Then she got a job, and a new home and she gave her life to Christ. “I become brave through reading Scripture”, says Cawthar. “I was not afraid to talk about my faith publicly,” she says.

But her family was not happy that she had become a Christian and threatened to kill her. Cawthar started to pray for them and after a while her family began to see a change in her life. They saw that she wasn’t angry or bitter towards her husband. “When I read the Bible, I found out that God loves me,” says Cawthar.

Cawthar feels encouraged by attending the breakfast meetings where she can read her Bible and pray with other women. “The atmosphere from these meetings is nice. It feels like it is my home and family,” she says. “God has compensated me for the family I lost,” says Cawthar

Just use your preferred giving option below to help bring the hope of the Bible to marginalised and oppressed women in Pakistan, India, and northern Israel.


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