On Friday, we had our feeding program as usual. The women showed up with their bags and we distributed their food to them. This is what we refer to as our "access ministry" with these people. The people living in this slum have been promised a lot of help by different politicians, missionaries, and other churches and have been let down. They have had to go through so many broken promises, that when someone says their going to help them, they don't believe it until it actually happens. Since we have honored our commitment to help these people out who are all single mothers with aids, they know that they can trust. We are gaining a reputation with them of being giving, helpful, and trustworthy people. Once these people develop more of a relationship and a higher level of trust with us, then it opens up more opportunities for us in other areas of their lives, like the Bible Study we are doing.
On Saturday, we had our second Bible Study. It went so well. We had 16 women show up, so that is 80% of the people that are in the program. The Village Elder advised us to move the study to the same day as the feeding program so that we could force them all to do the study in order to get their food. We decided against that idea. We told the women that they don't have to come to the Bible Study in order to get food. It is not mandatory. We just told them we would appreciate their attendance. We don't want to "coerce" people into coming to the study. We want people to come that are very serious and genuinely wanting to study the Word of God. If they don't come that is fine. We will still work with them. I tell you this to say that I am so excited that 80% of these women who are non-church goers have agreed to come to this study, even though they don't HAVE to.
During our study, the women had to go around and say something good that was happening in their life. Almost all of these women said the program we were doing and how much it was changing their lives. And it has just started! One woman said that she had completely stopped praying until we had started our program. Another woman said that she had a sick daughter, and that she prayed for her and the next day she was in her words, "miraculously healed." All of the women were sharing stories like this.
After this, the women have to go around and say a struggle that they were having last week. I want to share 2 of the stories. A woman named Mary Towei confessed that she was an alcoholic and got drunk every day and that she needed help. The other 5 people in her group agreed to pray for her every day for a week and committed to go visit her at least one time before our study next week just to offer support for her sin and struggle and to be there to lift her up if she stumbles. It was so amazing. Another woman, named Jane, is an HIV+ women who is a single mother of 7 children. Her husband abandoned her once he found out that she was positive. So the other women in her group agreed to go visit her at least once next week to talk to her and help with her children if they are able.
It is so amazing to see these "poor, struggling" women come together to love each other and minister to each other. It blows my mind how good of hearts they have. God is really moving in their lives. After this we finished our study out of Genesis and the women were sharing with each other everything they were learning about the story we had just studied. We had an amazing time, and I love being to able to share the word of God with these women. This all happened in just one Bible Study. So I can't wait to see these women transformed. Praise God!!!
Also, next week we will start training the women in the area of agriculture. After this, they will be growing their own fruits and vegetables and hopefully have some left over to sale. This part is mandatory to be in the program. We want to see these women grow to the point that they are no longer having to rely on American funds. They need to be empowered. So please pray for these women and the upcoming weeks of our program.