International (MNN) — Open Doors' Anneke Companjen says
there is a sisterhood among the persecuted church. While many of those suffering publicly are
male, these men have wives, mothers, sisters and daughters.
She's bringing attention to the female face of the
persecuted church. Why? Of the hundreds of men's faces they had on the
lists of pastors and church leaders who were imprisoned, there was no story of
their family. Yet each of these men had
mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters whose voices were unheard.
So why focus the awareness so narrowly? Companjen says, "I
think women understand women. I believe
women in the free world need women in the persecuted church, and vice
versa. We have what we call 'Women
to Women.' In Open Doors, we have many
projects that focus particularly on the widows, the martyrs' wives, and on the
children whose fathers are suffering."
Companjen says they're training more
and more women for evangelistic work. "Open Doors has been very involved in training pastors and lay leaders, especially in Southern Sudan. Now these men who have come to classes for
seven years, and these pastors, after graduation, have told us, 'Please, would
you also train our wives? We are
educated, and they are not.'"
As the women's training grows, Companjen felt it was time to tell the others' stories. She has written
two books about the unsung women's stories. Her most recent release is Singing through the Night: Courageous
Stories of Faith from Women in the Persecuted
Church. There are many untold stories of the
persecuted church–stories of women who bravely follow Christ at any cost. The
book paints a picture of 22 women in nine different countries around the
world. They have lost husbands, children, homes, jobs, or their very freedom
and yet continue to praise and serve their Lord.
Of their stories, Companjen says, "The songs of
believers, often sung in times of great darkness and tumult, have always
inspired me. And now I have the opportunity to share more stories of women who
have faced persecution for their Christian faith, focusing on the lessons they
have learned during their times of hardship."