Once a month, I am given the sweet gift of speaking with one or more of the founders of Shama Women via video call. They share with me stories of God at work at the training centers in South Asia while I type furiously to keep up. Their descriptions paint portraits in my mind of places I can only imagine, of women whose stories are so unlike mine—and yet we have everything in common. So, you can understand why I don’t want to miss a single word.
They pause to ask whether I have any questions, but usually I can do nothing more than silently shake my head, eyes wide, in awe of God moving in the most unexpected places. During my most recent conversation with the team, I gathered myself enough to ask what a typical day looks like for a woman being trained at one of the Shama Women centers. As they replied and the story unfolded, I placed myself there in her village, shadowing her day:
She rises early to cook a full breakfast from scratch for those living under her roof—sometimes a dozen mouths to feed. She washes the newly soiled dishes by hand and then begins the daily task of scrubbing the floors clean of the dust and dirt that constantly re-situates itself beneath her feet.
She washes her family’s clothing in a wringer-washer and attaches them to the line outside, retrieving the previous day’s dry pieces and ironing each one with great precision and care. If her children aren’t yet school-age, she tends to them during these tasks as well. (I ponder the American definition of “stay-at-home mom.” What would she think of my day? My perspective will never be the same.)
Once her chores at home are complete, she heads to the home of her employer to begin those same tasks over again, this time to earn the wages needed to sustain her family. Finally, perhaps late afternoon, she makes her way to the Shama Women training center, where she will work not only to master new skills—sewing and cosmetology, both valuable in her culture—but to study and learn what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
If she is married and her husband is willing, he might drive her to the center and drop her off. But should she need to make the journey on foot, she braces herself for harassment along the way. It’s not safe, but she places her well-being in the hands of her Savior, because she recognizes the value of this part of her day. She is committed, and she knows that the rewards of her training, both vocational and spiritual, are worth the challenge and danger of simply getting here.
When she steps through the doors of the center, there is a visible shift. An exhale. A burden lifted. She smiles, greets her friends, and removes the covering from her head in a physical expression of the freedom she knows in this place—the freedom that lives within her heart and soul.
“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32-33)
This is her safe house. In the company of other women who share similar stories, she is home, comforted, alive, and free. This is her community of believers, and it was worth the journey of today to be here with them.
At the Shama Women training centers, women are reaching women with the gospel. They are then carrying the Good News home to their families, to their children, and into their places of employment—an eternal ripple effect.
God is using Shama Women to change lives—not only the lives of those in South Asia, but the lives of all who hear their testimonies. Let’s not just listen to the stories and feel moved. Let’s allow ourselves to be part of them. Let’s give. Let’s pray.
Rebekah Crosby is a wife, mom, and grammar enthusiast with a passion for storytelling. You can find her at writetheroughdraft.com.