PHOTO: JEO works with women from all sorts of communities in Palestine, including the Bedouin, seen here.
A widow whose husband was killed for his faith in Jesus.
A young woman being treated harshly by her in-laws.
A woman who says she’s seen Jesus in her dreams and wants to learn more about him.
These are just a few of the women whose lives have been much improved thanks to the ministry of local partner Rami Fellemon, head of Jerusalem Evangelistic Outreach (JEO).
Life for women from Arab communities in the Holy Land can be full of obstacles and limitations. Despite achieving better rates of higher education, women account for only 19.1 per cent of the workforce as society dictates that a woman’s role is in the home. Additionally, over a third of married women report experiencing violence from their husbands. But it’s in this context that JEO’s outreach and discipleship involving women is blooming.
JEO was founded in 1989 to share Christ’s love with Arabs in the Holy Land. Today, JEO’s ministry to women especially is enacting lasting positive change to help them live life to the full. As Rami explains, “many women in our field [of] ministry… have suffered and are suffering from abuse from their family or husbands. It is insufficient to just sometimes visit them and never come back. We… walk with women phase after phase so that we see long-term and real growth in their lives.”
JEO facilitates several women’s ministry groups, including a women’s discipleship group, Bible study and widows’ group. In each group, women from all walks of life and stages of belief are able to share and grow their faith without fear. “Through the various aspects of these projects, we teach each woman that they have value in God’s eyes despite the way they are treated by society”, says Rami. “We want them to see that they don’t have to be bound by the roles that society puts them in but rather they should seek out the role that God has planned for them.”
As well as enabling women to develop a relationship with Jesus, the groups give them the confidence and opportunities to take on evangelistic and leadership roles. Members are emboldened to tell others about the groups and start new home groups of their own. In the women’s Bible study, those more mature in faith are encouraged to lead the group.
Attending these groups and experiencing the freedom that Christ brings has been transformational for many women, and this has spilled over into their daily lives. They are sharing the gospel with their spouses, children and extended families who are not saved. Some have even begun to read the Bible with their non-Christian husbands.
One woman’s non-Christian family had been mistreating her, but her growing faith led her to reflect Christ and love her family through her actions. This change amazed her family, leading them to start treating her with love rather than according to their cultural and religious standards.
In a society that relegates women to the home and leaves them vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment from their families, the liberation that Christ brings can be truly revolutionary. The women’s groups that JEO facilitate provide spaces where women are valued, supported, and set free to fulfil the roles God has prepared for them rather than what society expects of them.
You can be part of helping women to discover their worth in Jesus by giving to support CMS people in mission working to see women set free to live life to the full.