Have you ever been rejected because of something you believe? Or looked down upon because of your faith?
As a Christian woman in South Asia,* that’s Farah’s* daily experience.
I met Farah on a humid summer day last year. HOPE and one of our partners in South Asia were conducting a training for women who wanted to start savings groups in their churches—including Farah. Although she quietly kept her eyes on the floor for most of the training, she approached me afterward and asked to share her testimony.
By the time she was finished, we were both wiping tears from our cheeks.
Shamed by society and shunned by family
Farah is familiar with rejection and the isolation that comes with it. She grew up in a country where women are seen as invisible. Many are denied access to formal education, even though they often carry the financial burden for their families. From a young age, she was taught to keep her head down and her voice low.
Even harder to endure, though, was the way her family abandoned her when she gave her life to Jesus. Where Farah lives, to believe in Christ is to believe in the wrong god and to bring a curse on the family. Christians are seen as the lowest of the low. When Farah’s family found out about her faith, they threw her out of the house. She experienced even more loneliness and pain than before.
In Farah’s community, Christians are shunned. Women are shamed. Farah experienced both.
Yet she still chose to believe God had a plan for her life.
Cut off from her family, she married a Godly man who shared her faith and got involved at the church he preached at. All the while, she looked for ways to honor God in her community.
Her prayer was simple: “God, use me for your glory.”
Equipped to serve others
One day, she was invited to learn more about the savings group ministry—where women in the church could meet weekly to open God’s Word, save money together, and care for each other. In faith, she joined our partner’s first training for women who wanted to launch that ministry in their own churches. And that’s where our paths crossed.
Farah said that when she realized that savings groups were a holistic ministry, she knew it was a tool God was giving her to set her apart as a leader. She knew that God was using her for His glory through this, and she couldn’t wait to share this ministry with other women in her community. I couldn’t help but praise God! It was such a gift that she shared her story with me—a foreigner—and I thanked her.
Long after I returned home, I carried Farah’s story with me in my heart. I thought of her as I worked, praying that God would use her to encourage and disciple the body of believers as she started savings groups in her church.
A vessel for God’s glory
Three months later, around Christmas, our partner shared an update on Farah’s story. And God was indeed answering her prayer!
I learned that Farah started an all-women savings group in her church. Together, they now celebrate the birth of Jesus, share food, dance together, and save for their dreams.
In the savings group, these women are no longer invisible: They are seen, loved, and respected for who they are as daughters of God. It’s a place of Christian community—finally, these women are finding a place to belong.
So much more than just a financial service, savings groups are powerful because they help believers build thriving, flourishing communities.
How many more women and men around the world yearn for the same thing Farah did? “God, use me for your glory.” I can’t wait to see many more people like Farah use the savings group ministry to live out God’s call on their lives and create spaces of belonging in their communities.
Check out our impact page to learn how savings groups are helping men and women experience change in multiple areas of their lives. Or, for another story from South Asia, read how Divya** heard the Gospel for the first time in a savings group—and escaped an exhausting and underpaying job through a new venture.
*Name changed and location withheld for security
**Name changed for security