The name ‘Strength to Stand’ comes from its ultimate goal for the whole community to build resilience to persecution, so that when it inevitably comes they stand firm in their faith in Jesus. The S2S groups are intentionally linked to the local church and they spend a lot of time in prayer and worship, which is an adaptation of the original model of Self Help Groups established around the world.
The vision is to establish S2S groups in all Christian communities facing hostility and persecution, through partnerships and networks, in order to build stronger, faith-filled Christians.
We focus on communities of Christians suffering through poverty and marginalisation, in an environment which restricts them, is socially hostile, or obviously persecuting them. In this context there will be very low levels of education and employment with Christian young girls, with women particularly vulnerable to abuse and violence.
Small community groups of women are organised where they face significant hostilities due to their identity in Jesus. At the outset some do not have a personal relationship with Jesus but are being persecuted in his name without the comfort of a Saviour. They initially meet with a facilitator and take turns leading the groups. They learn firstly that their identity is in Jesus, and then they learn to pray, worship, read the Bible and learn more about Jesus together. This is then shared widely in their families and changes more often occur across the whole community.
We carefully survey before and after the intervention and receive both survey results and anecdotal evidence of transformation. Some of the outcomes in Egypt have included: an increase in the whole family being involved in prayer and Bible study and attending church, a reduction in domestic violence within the home, and the start of small local businesses in the slums of Cairo.
Judy, a volunteer from South Wales went to visit the facilitators of these groups in Egypt and said: "The groups are brilliant. An excellent way to disciple the women, giving them the freedom in knowing their true value in Jesus…The model of the groups will produce fast growth and show women in this culture their true identity, enabling them to shed the shame put on them will surely make a real difference to their lives."
God, we lift up to you the women who are part of the S2S groups, both the leaders and the participants. You are their rock, their fortress and their deliverer.
You are their light, so we pray that you would lighten their darkness. Your way, O God, is perfect, and Your Word is true. May they know the hope to which You have called them and may they know what are the riches of their glorious inheritance in Christ.
We pray that they would be able to stand in Your strength, receive Your comfort in trials and know Your joy in their daily lives. Sustain them in their suffering and reveal Your glory through their tears of joy and sadness, just as You revealed Your glory through the suffering of Your Son Jesus. You alone can bring beauty out of brokenness.