|GC3 attendee in Maharashtra|
The young woman bows her head in prayer, asking God to send her out to fulfill the Great Commission. Her state, Maharashtra, is populated by almost 115 million people and plays a lead role in the nation’s political, economic, and cultural destiny. There are 40,000 unreached villages in Maharashtra; 73 of its people groups remain without a witness. Who will train this precious woman?
The number of Christians in the vast nation of India has exploded in recent years, due in part to efforts to disciple men for evangelism and church planting. In comparison, much less attention has been given to the discipleship of women. Indian society generally regards women as “second class citizens” with fewer rights, privileges, or consideration than men. They are disadvantaged emotionally, educationally, and economically.
Recent mass protests by women in India reveal a powerful undercurrent of discontent. While primarily angered by reports of violent rapes and related abuses, these women’s most important needs are truly spiritual, although most of them do not yet know it.
Sadly, this cultural attitude has also affected God’s Church. Women’s spiritual talents are often neglected in the planning of seminars, programs, training and mobilization. Apart from a handful of females receiving seminary training, very few opportunities are provided on the church level for equipping common women for better Christian life and ministry. Mobilizing women to win the lost and make disciples will dispel the cultural darkness, giving hope to women who face considerable challenges in everyday life.
Evangelism Resources and the Association of International Discipleship Advancement (ER/AIDA) have envisioned the “Women’s Impact Network” (WIN) to minister among Christian women of twenty states of India, mobilizing them to impact other women for discipleship advancement. Women challenged for deeper discipleship will undertake dynamic, spiritual formation with other women, who in turn will become empowered disciple-makers.
|Women gathered for discipleship at a conference in Gujarat|
Some church leaders have already realized and expressed that women are better and more effective evangelists than many men. They have more opportunities than men to reach special populations, such as other women, children, teens and the elderly. Women are very influential when engaged in personal evangelism and hospital or jail ministries. Since many Indian women do not have careers, they are available to reach neighbors and families easily while the men are at work.
Another growing arena of influence for Christian women is among Muslim women. The Muslim population of India is growing rapidly, and the two faiths endure in common the increasing persecution from the dominant religion of Hinduism.
In bygone days, women teachers and evangelists were very common, accompanying missionary ladies in rural evangelism and ministries targeted to other women. Today, largely because of the efforts of those early pioneers, and by the grace of God, the number of new believers in India has increased tremendously. Women form more than fifty percent of the church’s population, yet little attention is being given to equip them for ministry.
All these factors compel us to see the urgency as well as usefulness of empowering women to be disciple-makers in our churches. Since we know that only a disciple can produce a disciple, we choose to impact through WIN selected women to be true disciples who will then impact other women with the same vision. Better disciples are better evangelists. Therefore, we are sure that if we prepare better disciples, they will be better witnesses too.
Will you pray with Evangelism Resources and AIDA for the funding to initiate the WIN project? A proposal has been submitted to a foundation for a matching grant; pray with us for favor for this request, and begin to ask the Lord how He wants YOU to help India’s women WIN for Christ!
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