By Mark Ellis
It had always been a struggle for Fatima to make ends meet in her village, but one day she discovered an opportunity that could help in more ways than she could imagine.
A year ago she was introduced to a woman who caught her attention. “I realized this woman is very independent,”Fatima says. “She didn’t complain about her husband’s support for her and her five children.” Fatima heard the woman had started her own trading business.
One evening Fatima visited her and asked about the secret to the drastic change in her life. “She made me vow never to let anyone know and I agreed not to tell anyone. She told me that she joined the Christian faith but did not want her husband or anyone in the community to know because of the fear of rejection and persecution from her people.”
She told Fatima about a businessman who gathered some women together and introduced them to some basic principles in business. Then he gave them loans to start businesses to help support their families.
“She told me they formed groups that meet weekly to learn how to boost their business and learn from their mistakes,”Fatima notes. “She said they also teach some principles from the Bible about business.”
“I told her I wanted to join the group, but she was not comfortable at first because she thought I might betray her confidence. But I gave her my word and secretly joined them for their group meetings.”
Then Fatima found another dimension to their discussions that grabbed her heart. “Soon I realized they were not only learning about how to improve their businesses but they were learning about the love of Jesus Christ,” she recalls.
“Secretly, I always wished I was a Christian because most Christian wives had the liberty to express their views without their husbands abusing them. I also loved their way of worship. In addition, there is no intimidation and compulsion whatsoever, something different from Islam,” she notes.
However, another part of Fatima wrestled with Christianity. “I was brought up to totally ignore the Christian faith. At one point fear gripped me as I considered what would happen if my husband found out about this and what he would do to me if he found out.”
“But surprisingly, this fear never stopped me from risking my life to know more about Jesus Christ,” she says. Fatima gave her heart to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and entered into a new and living faith.
At the end of the third month of their meetings, the head of the training team approached Fatima about starting her own business. “I told them that I would love to go to the neighboring villages to buy grains and sell them in the city,” she says. The next time they met she was given a loan of $500 to start her business.
“Now, I have paid off my loan and through this business, I am able to support my daughter’s schooling. Otherwise, she would not have gone to school because of our financial challenges. She is now in school and doing very well,”Fatima notes.
Even Fatima’s husband appreciated the changes he observed. “My husband has gained respect for me and I am grateful to God for that. I have also introduced my daughter to Christ and I know that gradually all my family will come to know the Savior who is Jesus Christ.”
“From the beginning, I was doing it for money but with time I have come to know that it is only Jesus Christ who can make the difference in one’s life. I didn’t find this in my former religion. I have peace of mind that if I should die today by His Grace I know where I am going,” she says.
Fatima is full of gratitude to God for the change in her life. “I am thankful for the people who introduced me to this, for allowing God to help me. I am in pain and crying for multitudes of women like me in my community and other places. Pray they too would meet my best friend, the Lord Jesus Christ. Pray the Lord Jesus can use me to help other women.”
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