A nighttime walk should be peaceful, a welcome break from the sun, or a chance to think and pray. But for women around the world, just a short walk home at night can be dangerous.
IFES desk research compiled in the Global Trends Report discovered that violence against women is a trend likely to affect student ministry in the coming years. While the issue touches every part of the world, research shows that Latin America is one of the top regions influenced by this problem, particularly on university campuses.
But IFES groups in Latin America are speaking up, using theater productions and discussion events to encourage a higher value of women as image-bearers of God. And interestingly, Latin America is also the IFES region with more female general secretaries than men. Out of a total of 20 movements, 11 are led by women.
“Even though many of us consider América Latina to be a ‘machista’ (macho) environment, this mission field is open to so many women. There are single women, women married with little kids and older kids… in other words, an immense diversity of women serving the Lord in student ministry. What a blessing!”says Carmen Castillo, Latin America Sub-regional Coordinator.
The region has started a project to regularly bring together female leaders to share support and encouragement with each other.
“The idea is to be able to support each other in a process that aims, not only to empower women as they are, but to also support our brothers in mission,”says Carmen.
In a heavily patriarchal society, projects like this remove barriers to the gospel by showing its power to undermine the demeaning messages and practices of machista (macho) culture. Carmen says,
“As a song from our land says: ‘[Jesus] exalted children, and women.’ That is the Jesus we serve, who takes those despised in the world and lifts them in the right place.”
Yesterday was International Women’s Day, a day to recognize the achievements and struggles of women around the world. This week, pray for IFES women, making a difference for the gospel on university campuses.
- Pray for female university students who are affected by gender-based violence on their campuses.
- Pray that IFES students, leaders, and staff will challenge unjust discrimination and violence towards women. Pray that their courage to address these issues will bring glory to the gospel.
- Pray for women in leadership in Latin America. Pray that God would guide their group and develop their gifts and talents to be used effectively in their ministry.