Lydia faces persecution for her faith and, in Myanmar, a lot of people believe that being a woman makes her weak. She learned how untrue this was when she attended a seminar run by Open Doors partners. Now she runs small businesses, teaches other women about their worth in Christ and shares the gospel with her persecutors.
Lydia* is a pastor’s wife from northern Myanmar where Christians are in a minority, making up just eight per cent of the population. Ever since she was young, she has wanted to help those in her community. “I accepted Jesus in the Sunday school,” she says, “I grew up wanting to serve God and I had a deep desire to work amongst women and children.”
Despite being from a Christian family, Lydia’s walk with the Lord hasn’t always been easy. In her community, people can become angry when she tries to tell them about Jesus, and she has seen families disown believers for choosing to follow Christ. On top of this, Lydia has faced persecution because she is a woman. It’s common in her city for people to think that women are weak, and they shouldn’t engage in work outside of the home.
“Nevertheless,” she says, “we continue sharing the gospel slowly and carefully. We are always vigilant and we use more creative ways to talk about the love of Christ.” For Lydia, these ‘creative ways’ involve showing kindness and offering help to local people. She uses skills that she learnt at a women’s training seminar delivered by Open Doors partners.
“Through that seminar, God changed my whole perspective on life,” says Lydia. “I learnt that God has not just saved me but also lifted me up. I am precious, unique and I have potential. I realised I can make God known to others and I have talents I could use and multiply.”
"I am precious, unique and I have potential." Lydia, Myanmar
Open Doors partners deliver seminars like this across the world with the aim of helping Christian women understand their true value in the family, church and community. This training ultimately helps the church become more resilient in places where it is persecuted, and helps it become equipped to meet the diverse needs of all its members, male or female.
The seminars often involve practical sessions with information about how women can support themselves. At Lydia’s seminar, the trainer talked about different kinds of small businesses that the women could run. Lydia subsequently decided to learn new crafts and undertook further training with the help of Open Doors in finance and budgeting. It wasn’t long before she was running her own basket weaving and jewellery business
"I am inspired to be an empowered woman." Lydia, Myanmar
Lydia was so excited about all she had discovered that she decided to share her learning with other women: “I conducted many trainings amongst women in my church and nearby churches, encouraging them to engage in small businesses and manage their houses intelligently. I was inspired to be an empowered woman, doing everything that I can do with all my strength for what God had prepared for me in advance to do.”
“Many times the women I engage with are non-Christians and in that way I also share the gospel." Lydia, Myanmar
Some of the women Lydia trained have since joined her business and Lydia even arranges childcare to enable them to work. She’s finding this a fantastic way to share Christ’s love. “Many times the women I engage with are non-Christians and in that way I also share the gospel. I pray with them and tell them about Jesus.”
Thanks to your prayers and support, Open Doors partners are working to find more women like Lydia, who can be challenged and inspired through the word of God and then go back and empower many more in their communities.
Every £28 could enable four women to attend empowerment training, so they can understand their healthy, Bible-based role and true value in the family, church and community.