One of the ways that Release seeks to Serve God’s Church in Egypt is through our Strength to Stand groups.
The name ‘Strength to Stand’ (or S2S as we call it) comes from it’s ultimate goal for the whole community to build resilience to persecution, so that when it inevitably comes they stand firm on 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 target communities of Christians suffering through poverty and marginalisation, in an environment which restricts them, is socially hostile, or obviously persecuting them. In this context Christian young girls, and women are 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.
So far some of the outcomes in Egypt have included;
- Increase in the whole family being involved in prayer and Bible study and the increase in attendance in Church
- Reduction in domestic violence within the home
- Small local businesses have begun in the slums of Cairo from items and money saved and loaned by groups to members
- Prevention of young women being tempted by the strategy of Muslim men to marry out of a desire for food, shelter and seemingly a better life. (NB significantly more Egyptian Christian women choose to marry Muslims than are taken by force in Egypt due to deprivation and abuse in the home and the attraction of a way out)