Fatima’s words startled me: “I want to be just like the Samaritan woman.” I thought, Does she mean she wants to have an immoral reputation and become isolated in her community? But Fatima’s next comments quickly dispelled that thought. “I want to go back to my village,” she explained, “and tell all the people there that Jesus is the true Messiah! Can you help train me to do that?”
Fatima was one of seven women who had been speaking with one of our FMI-supported evangelists in Pakistan. On previous occasions, each of these women had either been given a New Testament or had watched the evangelistic JESUS film in their language.
Typically, a woman in Pakistan will not even be in a room with a man who is unrelated to her unless her husband, brother, or father is with her; but like a dry sponge thirsty for water, these women were eager to learn more about the Messiah and willingly crossed cultural barriers to do so. We read to them the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman from the Gospel of John – an encounter which likewise ran counter to the social norms of his era. They were delighted to realize that Jesus intentionally makes time to speak with women and teach them; their delight grew into devotion and trust when they realized that the Heavenly Father whom they were seeking also seeks them (John 4:23)!
In another city in Pakistan, I learned about Zareena, a young widow. Nearly every morning at 10am, Zareena’s house is filled with about two dozen women, who gather to study the Bible with her. Most of the women are Christians, but because the Bible study is held in a home (instead of inside a church), several female Muslim neighbors feel free to join them and are now learning about Christ, too.
FMI’s national leadership team in Pakistan recognizes the vital role women play in the process of evangelism and discipleship, especially when women far outnumber men in most congregations, often by a ratio of 5:1 or greater. This year they are launching a new Women’s Discipleship Initiative.
Jesus promises that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled (Matthew 5:6). Your gifts and prayers are one way that promise becomes fulfilled in the lives of women like Fatima and Zareena as they learn to nurture others. To support the Women’s Disciple Initiative, click here.
For an overview of Pakistan, click here.