Gospel worker discovers a way to empower women amid rumors about her faith
March 02, 2017
Chanmin Chung, communication coordinator, Middle East and North Africa Union
[photo credit: Shutterstock]
When Rihab* arrived in a village in North Africa as a Global Mission Pioneer, she noticed the village was overflowing with mistrust and antagonism between clans.
Wanting to connect with the women, Rihab started a community project with three women from one of the families. However, the issue of enmity between groups hindered her work because the clans didn’t want to work together.
Although Rihab tried to work with each of the clans equally, they were jealous of her time. Rihab felt hopeless when she didn’t have a single opportunity to share the gospel.
“That situation taught me to watch my steps,” said Rihab. “You don’t know what you might encounter around the corner in your field.”
Rihab was discouraged, but she did not give up. She left the village for spiritual refreshing through prayer and reading the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy. Two months later, she came back to the town full of God’s assurance.
“I am extremely grateful for the time because it cleared my mind and restored the image of God in me,” said Rihab, who is an indigenous Adventist pioneer and was raised in a Muslim home.
Rihab invited young women from all the clans to start having Sabbath-morning meetings at her house and during weekdays she ran a language and music club for women. Everything was going well until many of Rihab’s friends suddenly stopped coming to her activities.
“I heard the rumor that I was a Christian spy funded by Israel and America,” said Rihab.
With prayer and fasting, Rihab ignored the rumors and continued to serve the women in the village through visitation, mentoring, prayer and teaching.
Not wanting a Christian in their village, the people in the community gathered at the local mosque to discuss whether Rihab should stay. Because of her passion for the people and her good deeds in the village, some people advocated for her to stay. However, Rihab wasreported to the authorities in the region, and investigated for her religion and methods of conversion.
After a Sabbath morning meeting, Rihab’s friend showed her a red fruit in the wooded mountain. As Rihab tasted it, she felt God had guided her to discover the fruit. After researching it online, she found this fruit was good for making jam.
Using this information, Rihab began teaching a woman, who needed to be self-reliant and gain confidence, how to make jam using the fruit from the mountains. The woman produced 354 jars of organic jam within two weeks and many markets in the region wanted to sell her product.
“In a few days, the news spread rapidly,” said Rihab. “It gave me opportunities to connect with more people than before, even outside of the town.”
Local authorities expressed gratitude to Rihab, and the people in the community who had shut their door in her face began to trust her as their friend and mentor. People now wanted to stand with her during any hardship.
“A man told me ‘Ma’am, don’t worry. Be strong and courageous. We accept you wherever you are from,’” said Rihab.
Rick McEdward, president of the Middle East and North Africa Union, said that her story is a good example of Christ-like ministry.
“Jesus worked His way into people’s hearts by meeting a practical need,” McEdward said. “By doing this, He gained access to the trust and confidence.”
Rihab now has confidence that this opportunity is a tool for witnessing.
“God gave these golden opportunities for me to preach the love of Jesus through living examples for this community,” said Rihab.
*Name has been changed