The persecution of Christian women and girls around the world is hidden, complex and violent. They are vulnerable for both their gender and their faith. Women like Peninah in Kenya.
Peninah’s story: Widowed by Islamic militants
Christian women are vulnerable to persecution for their faith and for their gender – but sometimes it’s the aftermath of persecution that most disproportionately affects them.
In many places, even if women aren’t the ones being attacked or killed, they still suffer terrible consequences. Often extremist militants target men because they know it will destabilise families and communities – removing the breadwinner leaves the remaining family desperate for income and food, and stigmatised by their communities.
The persecution of Christian women is complex.
Peninah was only 24 when her husband, Paul, was murdered by al-Shabaab. You might imagine that she found comfort in her extended family – but Paul’s relatives refused to support her, and Peninah was left to care for 2-year-old Steve alone, with no means of earning an income: “Life became hard. I struggled because I was alone. Even food was a challenge to get.” In Kenya, as with much of sub-Saharan Africa, widows are at the bottom of the hierarchy.
Thanks to the gifts and prayers of Open Doors supporters, Peninah was able to enrol in an Open Doors course in dressmaking – as well as attending a trauma workshop.
“The training helped me to heal my wounds, to share my suffering and accept the Lord’s leading in my life,” says Peninah. “My faith would have collapsed because not everyone gave me hope, but the seminars and Open Doors partners encouraged me a lot.”
Open Doors partners were even able to give Peninah a sewing machine, so she could embark on a career in dressmaking. Lockdowns have temporarily halted her work, so Peninah and Steve are among the 1,200 families in Kenya receiving vital Covid-19 food and relief aid from Open Doors partners.
“I would like to say thank you wherever you are,” says Peninah, to Open Doors supporters. “You have been very important to me. You have played a great role in my life.”
Father God, please protect women and girls like Peninah, facing the trauma of grief and the legacy of vulnerability. Draw close to them and comfort them, and give wisdom to those with power to effect change in the UK Government and the Kenyan Government. Amen.
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