For eight weeks, Hoosna* and Zahra*, national believers in Northern Africa, visited a village three hours away from their homes. The two women diligently made the journey through rocky, desert terrain to share their faith with the women of the village.
Several years ago, Hoosna agreed to be a language teacher for a missionary named Ann Ellison*. Ellison took the time to answer Hoosna’s questions as they studied the Bible together, and Hoosna was astonished to learn that God cared about the difficulties in her life.
“From our first meeting she was eager and excited to know God,” said Ellison. “She believed that God’s Word was truth and was eager to learn it for herself.”
Ellison continued, “To be honest, she surprised me by asking me to pray for us the first time we met together. Because I was still learning the local language at this point, I felt like she was encouraging me to share with her more than it being led by me!”
Early on in her explorations of the Bible, Hoosna received push-back and persecution from her husband’s family. This led to Hoosna becoming timid and nervous about sharing her new faith. However, Ellison encouraged her to pray and ask God to show her someone who would be open to the gospel.
After praying, the Lord put Hoosna’s own half-sister, Zahra*, on her heart. Hoosna decided to share with Zahra and her mother. Hoosna had no idea that the Lord was already at work in Zahra’s life, drawing her to Himself. After Hoosna spent some time sharing Bible stories, Zahra became a follower of Jesus and was excited to share this good news with others.
The women have been discipled by Ellison and another IMB worker for two years. Together Hoosna and Zahra decided to begin visiting the village where Zahra’s daughter lives. Neither Hoosna or Zahra can read or write, as illiteracy is high among women in their village. The stories they share from the Bible are shared orally.
Before the women left to visit the village, Ellison and another IMB worker supplied Hoosna and Zahra with SD cards. These SD cards included Bible lessons, personal health lessons and a story set from a Bible recording in their language. These audio files can be played on almost any mobile phone. After playing the stories for the women of the village, Hoosna and Zahra then told the stories in their own words and answered questions. Each week as they returned to visit the village women, Hoosna and Zahra continued to share, equip and encourage.
It is currently rainy season in the village and the roads are impassable. On their last visit before rainy season began, Hoosna and Zahra encouraged the women to continue listening to the audio files and memorize the Bible stories. The women of the village look forward to each of Hoosna and Zahra’s visits and are eagerly awaiting their return, said Ellison.
Ellison spoke to the importance of training nationals to independently go out and share the gospel among their people groups.
“We think it’s important because they can travel to places that we aren’t able to, with much less scrutiny and paperwork,” she said. “Plus, the lostness of the eastern part of our country is vast and we know God wants the peoples here to hear the good news. We really must look for ways to equip the messengers coming out of the harvest field!”
How to pray
- Praise God for the technology which allows for these women to share and hear the good news.
- Praise God for calling these women who can freely travel within the country where our workers cannot.
- Praise God for the openness of the women in the village.
- Pray that God’s Spirit will help the women understand the Bible stories and grow in their faith.
- Pray that Hoosna and Zahra will be able to stand strong in their faith even in the persecution they may eventually face.
*Names changed for security
Author Catherine Finch is a staff writer for IMB and author Elizabeth Cutrer is a contributing writer.