SANTA ANA, CA (ANS) -- "I was overwhelmed with faces and images. But these were the most outstanding impressions: The Persecuted Church thrives in harsh conditions; God is using miraculous means to bring women and others to Himself; Christians are routinely and sacrificially caring for people in need."
Those are the words of Margie McCabe of Dallas. She was one of six members in a women's group representing Open Doors who traveled to Egypt last month. Women of the Way is a program of Open Doors that delivers hope to women who share our faith but not our freedom.
According to Jane Huckaby, director of Women of the Way and a member of the group, the purpose of the trip was "to see and hear what it is like for Christian women living in a Muslim society. Women of the Way is focusing on this portion of the Persecuted Church throughout 2002. This means we are raising funds, awareness and prayers that directly serve Christian women in Muslim countries."
Huckaby says that the group found that women are second-class citizens in the Arabic culture, even in Christian households.
"The most shocking revelation to us was that there is little distinction between Muslim and Christian households regarding the status of women," she states. "Boys are more honored and treated with greater respect than girls. Women are the lowest of the low. Most girls drop out of school at the age of 13-15 to get married or take care of the house. When we asked a group of 20 young female Bible study teachers where they were most persecuted, they said it was in their homes by their fathers and brothers.
"Also, it's not a crime in Egypt for a husband to abuse his wife. In rural areas 79 percent of women report they are beaten by their husbands. Some men don't know it's wrong to beat their wives. I met a woman who converted from Islam to Christianity. She grew up wondering why God hated women and allowed them to be treated so inhumanely. Now that she is a Christian, I worry that the Church in Egypt may not demonstrate the love Christ to women. How will she embrace Christianity if she relives the horrors of her Islamic childhood in a Christian home?"
But Huckaby says the touring group observed how Open Doors is working to make significant changes.
"Open Doors is providing family training materials that address biblical principles of discipline as well as how husbands and wives should treat each other," says Huckaby. "We are praying that this training will break the cycle of abuse.
"It is against the law in Egypt to adopt orphans and orphans are everywhere. Christians are requesting the legal means for them to adopt orphans. Everywhere we went, Christian women were ministering to the discarded and forgotten people of Egypt -- mentally disabled, orphans, unmarried pregnant women and other Christians. And Open Doors is helping to enable them to carry out their ministry."
Huckaby says she sees hope for the future.
"There is great reason to hope believers in Egypt can overcome the unbiblical influences in their families and churches, but only if we help them discover the freedom of Christ through biblical parenting and marriages," she says. "Through Open Doors materials, the people we have equipped and the lives that have been changed, the Church in Egypt can be transformed and impact its people for generations to come.
"We talked to four visionary women in Egypt who have broken the gender barriers and are transforming women of today and children who are their future. One of these women said the children are our 'shortcut to God.' If we can reach them with the love and hope of Jesus Christ, they will not only impact their families, they will transform the entire country."
For Margie McCabe, the journey to Egypt was a life-changing experience. And a wake-up call. "It was a call for me to simplify and focus my life, including to pray fervently for the Persecuted Church and strategic work of Open Doors in Egypt."
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