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Open Doors Women - Regional Focus - Central and West Africa

Photo credit Open Doors, illustrative only.

Region / country information:

For decades, women in Central and West Africa have been used as weapons of war. They are victims and sufferers and carry their wounds with them every day for many years. When rebel groups attack their village, they may kill the men on the spot, but the women may be assaulted or forcibly married to the soldiers, resulting in trauma, pregnancy and many deep scars.

Sometimes women are able to return home, but being accepted back into the community also presents a whole range of problems. Open Doors works with local churches and partners to provide practical support and trauma training, as well as skills training and micro-loans, to help women deal with their experiences and find hope in a new season. Fellowship and self-help groups are an essential tool to help the women process what they have been through and seek God’s comfort and love as the ultimate restoration from brokenness.

Photo credit Open Doors, illustrative only.

Testimony: Mama Odette’s story is like too many others across West Africa. “I entrust myself to you, Lord, take my life if you want,” Mama Odette prayed as she heard the groups of armed young men shouting in the streets and bursting into houses. From the women, they were only after one thing, knowing the disastrous consequences it has on a community. Odette survived, but the weeks and months that followed were the most difficult time. The women who had been assaulted were stigmatized as adulterous traitors. She plunged into her Bible each time her thoughts turned dark or the memories threatened to overwhelm her. She also begged the Lord that she would not become infected with any of the many diseases the soldiers might have been carrying. When her pastor knocked at her door some months later to say that Christians from abroad were inviting hundreds of women like her to the hospital for tests, she did not hesitate. It was an amazing time for her; not only was her status as a victim of violence being recognized, but also God had sent help for her practical needs. When she saw her test results, she discovered that the Lord had answered her prayers and preserved her from illness. She also rejoiced that other women who had become ill were given the necessary medical care. Twenty-six of these Christian women are still meeting together once a week. As the eldest, Mama Odette is one of the leaders. She reminds them regularly of the importance of picking up their Bibles whenever they have a spare moment. “You know, I can spend so much time reliving the events, but when my thoughts start to turn bitter, I pick up the Bible and let God change my thoughts and turn them towards his way of thinking.” It is not easy living in reduced circumstances though, when they have lost all their earthly possessions and have no means of income. But Mama Odette is a big believer in faith in action. Each time the women come to the weekly survivors’ Self-Help Group, they bring 100 francs and pool their small offering. “We need to keep giving. How can I go into the house of God if I have nothing to give him? I can’t show up with empty pockets and empty hands!” If all 26 women are there, the offering totals nearly €4.00. They give the precious collection to one of the women in greatest need so she can fund a micro-business project such as making soap.

Prayer Points:

  • Many women in West Africa have experienced intense trauma and major loss, please pray for physical and spiritual healing and a certain confirmation of the Lord’s love and grace for them.

  • Pray for the women involved in Self Help group programs. Pray that their enterprises will be successful as they learn to work together and support other women in the group. Pray for blessing on their projects.

  • Pray for those living in IDP camps who have lost family members and their homes. Pray for the Lord’s provision and grace upon them all.

  • Pray for opportunities for women to minister and reach out to Muslim women in their communities.

  • Pray for boldness and sensitivity to share the love of Jesus with others.

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