As International Women’s Day arrives, the charity Open Doors is supporting Christian women in rural Egypt, who often face double discrimination due to both their gender and their faith.
A video showing this work is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrIpa2IgI_o
Women in rural Egypt are often seen as less important than men, and being a Christian in a Muslim-majority region creates additional challenges. Local partners of the charity Open Doors are teaching these women about their true value through discipleship groups.
Amany, a Christian woman from rural Egypt, leads one of the women’s discipleship groups. She said, “I want them to know they are so precious, valuable, created uniquely by God, loved.”
She explained the daily challenges Christian women in rural Egypt face: “They not only have to deal with the attacks on Christian faith, they also have to deal with the frequent dirty looks and harassment of the men in their country.”
It isn’t common for rural Christian to take a personal approach to faith, relating to God as individuals and spending time in personal prayer and Bible study, so Amany helps the women to seek a closer relationship with God, to read the Bible themselves and have fellowship with each other.
On a visit to the group Amany leads, when she asked the ladies what their reaction would be if they stopped this weekly gathering, they all began protesting. One lady said, “When I started to attend the group meeting, my life changed completely. I started attending church regularly. I became like light that shines in my home among my family and my neighbours. When I need advice, I talk to the group leader or other women in the group. This weekly gathering is so precious to me. Please never think of stopping this programme.”
Another woman shared her story, saying, “On the street where I live, the other mothers and I used to quarrel about the fights between our children regularly. But because of what I learned from God here, I try to change that behaviour by acknowledging my mistakes and talking about conflicts instead of ignoring them. God is using me to spread his love and peace among my neighbours.”
Another women shared, “I learned how to pray to God and talk with him, not just repeat written prayers from a book. I dare to pray to God directly now and my husband even helps me as well. I learned a lot from you, our teacher. May God bless you.”
Amany said, “It’s so thrilling to see the impact a committed Christian woman can have and how she can be a real blessing for her family and her community.”
Egypt is number 17 on the 2018 World Watch List. A rise in violent and deadly attacks caused the deaths of 128 Christians last year and left many injured. So-called Islamic State targets Christians and the government’s low regard for fundamental rights means there is little protection. Church leaders are monitored by the state. Believers, especially women, face discrimination and abuse at work.
Open Doors has been working through local partners and churches in Egypt since 1990, providing literacy training and education projects, youth and family ministry, advocacy support, medical outreach, ministry to widows and vocational training for women. Open Doors UK & Ireland has launched an appeal to support this work.
Beth Fuller: Open Doors