Central Asian Women in Leadership
Innovista works in several Central Asian Republics, all of which are on Open Doors’ “World Watch List”.
This means that Christians experience a “very high” level of persecution. Islam is intrinsic to people’s ethnic identity. Converts to Christianity are rejected (or worse) by their families and communities. Fines, abuse, threats and violence against Christians are commonplace. It is hard (if not illegal) for churches to meet.
Women are subject to men, and are unable to choose their own religion; repercussions for doing so can include house arrest, abduction, divorce or physical abuse.
Madina is Innovista’s Regional Director for Central Asia. It is counter-cultural for women to hold leadership positions, so Madina knows the challenges well and takes great joy in mentoring other women as they learn to lead.
Madina has been doing leadership training with Joy* for five years. Joy came to faith in 1998 – the first Christian in her family. Since then, she has seen God work a miracle in her family. Her children, two of her sisters and all of their children, and her sister-in-law have come to faith in Jesus too. Her brothers and her parents are Muslims, and following Jesus has been costly for Joy and her family.
Joy is a natural leader, and felt called to set up a ministry to women who had experienced trauma.
“In our country, many women need help. Women don’t have a voice, they don’t have value. They are under their husbands. There is ongoing bondage and strongholds from the Muslim culture. I want every woman to know she is free in Christ and valued by God.”
In response to the needs of so many women experiencing trauma, Joy started a small weekly group for women. She invited them to share their experiences, and support each other, in a safe space.
As time went by, the women opened up more and more. As Joy talked to them about freedom in Christ, the women started to change. And as they changed, they wanted to reach more women.
Today, Joy leads a team of seven. During the last year – even through the challenges of the pandemic – they worked with 200 women.
Joy speaks warmly of the role Madina has played in her ministry.
“I see in Madina what I do not have myself. She looks from the outside to see our team and how it can be better. As a team we are growing in relationship and other women see us as one, strong, beautiful team. Pastors also see this. We are very united.”
This is the heart of Innovista’s work: coaching and mentoring local leaders who can change their own communities with the hope of Jesus. Thank God for these remarkable women and the impact they are having in their hometowns.