Trokosi Slave Girls in West Africa

Sudanesegirlsandwater (2)Thousands of West African girls as young as four years old have been offered to the gods as atonement for some offense committed by a relative.  Trokosi – which literally means ‘slave wives of the gods’ – are part of a three hundred year tradition in the Upper Volta region that encompasses Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, and Togo.  Until the eighteenth century, Fetish Priests accepted livestock as offerings by families who were fearful of retribution by the gods.  But then the priests decided a young virgin would be more useful for domestic and sexual purposes.

A slave’s term of service is supposed to last from three to five years, depending on the nature of the sin that is being atoned for.  However, most families of Trokosi cannot afford the price required to buy their daughters back.  They are also fearful of the gods’ displeasure.  If a priest dies, the woman becomes the property of his successor.  But if the girl dies without her family redeeming her, they must replace her with another virgin.  The cycle can continue for generations.

Trokosi slaves live in inhuman conditions:

  • Frequently raped and beaten
  • Given only rags to wear
  • Forced to beg for food
  • Receive no education
  • Receive no medical attention
  • Work long hours in the priest’s fields
  • Often suffer from ill health
  • Babies born to the girls must also become slaves to the priest
  • Those who resist are beaten into submission

Through the efforts of a private, non-profit agency called International Needs Ghana, many shrines have now stopped the practice of Trokosi and 2,900 women have been freed and rehabilitated.  The Anti-Slavery Society has also succeeded in purchasing the freedom of over 500 slave girls.  In 1998 Ghana passed a law banning the practice.  However, several thousand girls still remain in slavery. The law is hard to enforce.  Some people argue that it is a part of their culture.

Women in the Window International’s mission is to see women in developing nations and dire situations, where oppression and injustices prevail, become beautifully equipped and wholly empowered by Grace.  This disturbing factual account from West Africa helps you to better understand why we do what we do.

Pray with us that the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ will abound in stopping this despicable evil and result in many women coming to know Christ as Savior, winning their homes and communities to Him.

Source: True Grit: Women Taking on the World, for God’s Sake by Deborah Meroff

Shouting for JOY Over Evening in the Courtyard

Women in the WindowThe excitement was almost palpable as we gathered under the stars for Women in the Window International’s inaugural Evening in the Courtyard on February 20!

We are grateful to God for His Presence among us, as inspiring and informative conversations took place throughout the courtyard at each table assigned to one of our capacity-building strategies.  Inside, the program for the evening included our Event Chairwoman, Ms. Amelia Biney, interviewing our overseas guest, Mrs. Paulina Kumah. Both Ghanaian women radiated the love and purpose of Christ as they told the story of Christ’s love for women, evidenced in the Gospel of action and words, in some of the hardest places in the world, within the 10/40 Window of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Paulina even graced us with a song, “Because He Lives,” and included all present in singing the chorus along with her.  Indeed, Because He Lives we can face tomorrow with great JOY!

It’s impossible to measure all that the Lord did that evening, but below you’ll find just a few brief comments and commendations, along with statistics.  Please continue in prayer that we will reach our goal for the upcoming Women in the Window trainings of 70 women from 7 African nations to be conducted in the Gambia and Togo, just a few weeks from now!

Attendance and Support:

  • We had 95 seats filled and people standing along both sides and into the back room, for approximately 150 in attendance!  Of that group, 45 were brand new to the ministry.
  • $2,500 in sponsorships, which was exactly what we needed for Paulina’s travel expenses.
  • We raised approximately $4,500 for the Africa women’s trainings to be held just a few weeks from now.  Please pray for the remaining $16,000 needed to be provided right on time!  Please contact us if you’d like to help reach this goal.

Comments and Commendations:

  • From Annie, one of our faithful Evening in the Courtyard volunteers: “I was so moved, in praise and in gratitude.  A rousing success!  Seamlessly planned and executed.”
  • From Anne, a first time attendee: “Thank you for such an enlightening evening.  Your mission is so impressive and you are a perfect gift to the world of women.”

Thank you for your prayers and your support!  May God richly bless you and multiply your gifts of grace and service, so that women in the 10/40 Window, where oppression and injustices prevail, will become beautifully equipped and wholly empowered by Grace.

In Christ’s Love and Joy,
Kim

Overwhelmingly Blessed and a Bit Surprised!

healthWe were overwhelmingly blessed and even a bit surprised by the keen interest in the ministry of WiW during our time with both women and men leaders from the Middle East and North Africa January 18th to the 29th. One brother in Christ who has worked in this arena for more than a decade said this:

“We have learned that if you reach a man, you’ve reached a man. But if you reach a woman, you are reaching a community!”

After we completed our two health trainings, the need for further training and encouraging in various disciplines was obvious.  Now it is time to prayerfully work through the action steps to form a trip calendar for the next 2-3 years, expand the Health team, and work throughout the region to reach as many women leaders as possible with the tools, or “weapons,” to carry on their God-ordained missions to women to advance Christ’s Kingdom and build His Church!

Please continue reading to learn more about our pivotal experience with leaders from the MENA region, and join us in fervent prayer for the specific prayer requests listed below.  Thank you!

Grateful for His grace and for your prayers,
Kim Kerr
Executive Director

Our Goals

  • Train women leaders in the MENA region with distinct capacity-building strategies that are both reproducible and sustainable in their own communities.
  • Create a community of common support through prayer and relationships with women leaders in this region.
  • Develop and strengthen ongoing partnerships with ministry partners who would like to empower and equip women as part of their strategy to reach and engage with the unreached Muslim people in their nation.

Comments from Ila Swick, RNC, Women in the Window Health Trainer

During our recent trip and training with Middle East and North African women, we conducted 2 workshops, attended by approximately 35 women leaders.  The workshops were conducted with the assistance of Marcia Nayak, WCL International Training Coordinator from Medical Ambassadors International.  We offered 4 lessons on physical, emotional, and wholistic health.  Our attendees were from various ministries.  Participation was enthusiastic and thought provoking.

Comments from Workshop Attendees

  • Praise for the methodology of using drama and stories to involve the learners.
  • It was encouraging and elevated the value of women.
  • They did not know health training could include biblical messages.
  • It can be used anywhere.
  • It can be used to reach non-believers.
  • It is relationship-building.
  • One sister from Algeria stated that she found meeting with Women in the Window International worth the entire trip.  She felt like she had finally found the right “weapons” to use in her ministry to women (2 Corinthians 6:7, 10:4).

Comments from a Prominent Women’s Leader in Attendance at our WiW Health Workshop

I would like to encourage you and your team to come and do conferences inside North African nations so that more women could benefit from the conferences and teachings instead of just a few women that have the chance to travel.

All the women believers here are from the Muslim background.   They really are the top priority and need to get teachings on knowing God; the character of God; the Word of God; prayer; etc. The teachings that gear toward helping to make disciples of Jesus with these ladies and help them to be godly women are very important. When these two goals are achieved, they will generally be more joyful, loving, healthy, peaceful, kind, gentle, and God-fearing ladies.The women inside Algeria and inside North Africa are the ones very needy of women’s conferences and the opportunities for the teachings named here.

May the Lord Jesus give you and your team wisdom and sensitivity to His Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance to do His will among the women of North Africa and inside North Africa for His glory and praise.  Amen.

Prayer Requests

  • Pray that WiW will thoroughly follow up on every request for trainings we have received.
  • Pray for wisdom for WiW’s next steps in partnership throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Pray that God will anoint our inaugural event on February 20th, and that He will use the Evening in the Courtyard with Paulina Kumah from Africa to spread the word about WiW in our own community.

Joy Overtakes Sorrow

arabwomenRemarkable stories punctuated by joy characterize God’s work in the Middle East and North Africa!  Like a funeral procession met with the message of Resurrection Life, the people of these nations are receiving God’s amazing Grace.

Syrian Refugees receive food, blankets, and heating supplies from local church members.  Arab men and women are seeking after the One who meets them in dreams and visions. Christ followers receive miracles which further point the Way to the One true God. Sorrow and sighing are overtaken by joy!

Please pray for our sisters and brothers, and for us…

  • First and foremost, please pray for protection!   There are so many followers of Christ working in the Middle East and North Africa who risk their lives daily for the Gospel.
  • Pray for wisdom for Women in the Window’s next steps in partnership in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Pray for personal disciplines so that we can all more clearly hear God’s voice and have courage to obey.
  • Praise God for the remarkable response and hunger for more training among women leaders.
  • Praise God for the sweet Spirit of unity and joy among brothers and sisters in Christ from many nations, committed to demonstrating the love of Christ to their Muslim neighbors.
  • Pray that our remaining travels will be safe and uneventful, and that we and our luggage will arrive home together.

Abiding in Him,
Kim & Ila

Successful Health Training for North African Women

libyaOur first Women’s Cycle of Life health training has come and gone. There are no adequate words to describe both the fullness of our hearts and the pain we feel for our sisters from North Africa.  We are filled with joy and encouragement because the training was so enthusiastically received, with multiple requests for full training sessions in several countries.

Our pain comes from hearing our sisters in Christ say that in their cultures, women are seen as little more than animals, were formed from the “odd rib,” that their hard work is rarely appreciated, and that this low opinion has become the norm, preventing women from reaching higher.

As we worked through our lessons together, we received biblical truth, God’s truth, about women from one another…that women were created in the image of God and that they have infinite worth and value!  This is the message we bring to our sisters who struggle to survive in cultures that keep them from hearing the truth and living a joy-filled life of love and respect.

Please join us in prayer for the North African Christian women leaders who live and work in regions that do not value and honor women. Their faith is vibrant and strong and their desire is that the women who have not yet heard of Christ will know and experience His life-giving presence.

This weekend our sisters in Christ from the Middle East will arrive, and we will lead a health training for them on Sunday, January 26th.  Please pray that this time will be just as meaningful and fruitful as it was for the North African women.

Praising Him,
Ila & Kim

Prayer Requests

  • The women’s faith will remain vibrant and strong.
  • We will be able to proceed with next steps, bringing health training to unreached groups of women in this region.
  • Our next training on Sunday morning, focusing on the Middle East, will be well attended and will meet the needs of the women working in that region.
  • God will add to our team of health trainers.
  • God will direct us toward His partnering and networking opportunities.

Safe, Uneventful Travel…Almost ;-)

256px-Morocco_-_veiled_woman_in_MarrakechWe are praising God for our safe arrival, good health, and all suitcases being present and accounted for!  Thank you for your prayers and please continue…

Upon our arrival, we were immediately greeted by brothers, and a few sisters, from North Africa, including Egypt.  They are experiencing a lull in the mayhem of recent years since the Arab Spring.  Their constitution was recently presented and they are waiting for the approval of their national referendum.  They, and we, all live in uncertain times…but for Jesus!  That is precisely why we are here: Jesus!

Join us in praising Him for all that He is doing in the Arab world and for the privilege and JOY of being a small part of His glorious work.  Pray for the women who are arriving for our Women in the Window International health training today and tomorrow.  And pray for the Middle East women leaders who will arrive later this week, some of whom are still seeking visas and safe passage.  Please pray with us:

  • First day of rest, refreshment and preparation for the weeklong busy conference schedule, filled with moments of worship, training, and late nights followed by early mornings!
  • Anointing upon our designated schedule and God appointed conversations and fellowship.
  • Strengthening and deepening our existing partnerships with sisters and brothers in the Arab world, and forming new partnerships that are mutually beneficial and Kingdom building.
  • Travel mercies and good health for all the women who are yet traveling here, including Marcia, our teammate and fellow trainer.
  • Solidifying the training details for both North Africa and Middle East women’s health workshops.

Again, we are quite grateful for the opportunity to be here and for safe, uneventful, seamless travel — with just one exception.  Ila’s vacation started by being asked to render aid to a passenger in distress on her transatlantic flight!  She spent a good portion of the flight on the floor of the first class galley assisting a woman passenger.  It seems you can take Ila out of the hospital, but you can’t take the hospital out of Ila. 😉  We are praying for no more Good Samaritan “sightings!”  Just joking (kind of), but most of all we are just grateful to be His and on His team bringing health, hope, healing, and JOY through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

With Love and Joy,
Kim and Ila

Building Excellent Ministry Partnerships in India

img_0583We are happy to be home yet sad to leave India.  God orchestrated these past two weeks so beautifully.

National Women’s Conference: January 4-7
The National Women’s Conference in Kolkata was an exceptional opportunity for us to meet with a wide range of women leaders, learn about their respective ministries, and share the work of Women in the Window International.  The women who attended are passionate to fight for the hurting, unwanted, poor, and destitute.  It became very clear by the end of the conference that these women have a vision to be a force for strengthening families and transforming culture so that in their communities and the nation, the status of women is elevated.  It was also encouraging to have a few couples attend, and one of their desires is to have a conference for both women and men.

Additionally, we brought 100 WiW pamphlets to the conference and all were eagerly taken. Our experience at the conference helped to confirm the need for WiW’s ministry as some of the indigenous women leaders were not aware of the plight of their own women for reasons beyond their control.  Clearly, partnership is God’s idea and part of the Great Commission, too. We willingly embrace our place in His service as partners alongside these excellent Indian women leaders!

“Image of Hope” Retreat: January 9-11
Leaving the dusty city of Kolkata and traveling to the Promised Land Retreat Center was a welcome change. It was wonderful to be reunited with sisters from our partner ministry, Oasis India.  The “Image of Hope” Retreat provided an excellent balance of teaching, fun activities, and time for interaction and dialogue. The women were thankful to finally meet Oasis teams from other cities and have opportunities to share and discuss. They were blessed by the time away from the pressures they face and enjoyed opportunities to learn from each other.  Our time growing together in Christ impacted us all. God used Peggy in a mighty way to touch each and every person. It was so good to hear testimonies of the long-term benefits experienced as a result of previous “Image of Hope” training and see the fruit of last year’s retreat.  It fuels us to continue praying for our sisters and we look forward to what God has in store to serve with them as part of the “Image of Hope” training team.

We praise God that we stayed safe and healthy throughout our journey, and are thankful for your prayer support for us and the strong, vibrant women of India.  Please pray with us that we will continue to hear and obey God’s voice as we join His collaborative movement to empower and equip women in the 10/40 Window with His Grace and for His Glory alone!

In Him,
Michelle, Diane & Peggy

P.S. Click here to see the photo album from our trip to India!

Proclaiming Good News to Women in the Arab World

kim mosqueDo you remember what Jesus said during His first official sermon in Nazareth?  His words were profound and powerful, and are relevant even today: 

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD.” – Luke 4:18-19 

This Good News, this beautiful Gospel, has not changed from that day until this.  And while theologically the year of the LORD took place as He took His rightful place as our Savior – the Savior of all the world – each year since is a year of His good favor as a result of His loving kindness and tender mercies, patiently waiting for all to be saved by His grace.  That continues in 2014.  And we press on!

I am excited to inform you of the upcoming opportunities before me, and our ministry team of Women in the Window International, in one of the most strategic places on earth: the Arab world.  We have been invited to join with women and men from North Africa and the Middle East on a discreet island nation from January 18th to January 29th.  We will join all the meetings there to learn and strategize with the larger “Church,” but our primary focus on this trip is to gather the women leaders with whom we partner to develop a robust strategy of holistic development and ongoing ministry to empower through prayer and equip for service!  Our health training leaders, Ila Swick and Marcia Nayak, along with two new volunteers, will provide an overview of Women’s Cycle of Life.

Each day we will come together to worship the Lord Jesus and to strategize how to reach the 99% Muslim population of this region with His Good News. Each morning our meetings will begin with a time of worship in English, French, and Arabic, uniting us as we draw near to God and He draws near to us.  The enthusiasm for Christ displayed during worship is always palpable and contagious!  Following our worship, we will hear reports from each North African nation and the Diaspora (dispersed North Africans) among European nations such as France, England, and Spain, and the Sub-Saharan African regions where the Muslim population is growing annually.

In addition, we will gather to discuss the current status of women’s ministry in North Africa.  Breakthroughs and setbacks will be discussed along with ministry tools that might be effective.  The Arab Spring has not been kind to women and most of them are far worse than before it started.  Sharia Law is frequently instituted by the Muslim brotherhood whenever and wherever possible.  Yet women are finding Christ through their dreams, visions, and in some cases, churches, whether they meet in homes or actual church buildings.  This varies widely in the Arab world.  But women are ALWAYS the key to reaching other women, who in turn train the next generation, and often pray for their husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons, until they, too, find the Good News of Christ for themselves.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS!  We consider you an essential part of this team and we simply couldn’t make these trips without the wings of your prayers!

In His Love and Service,
Kim

Prayer Requests

  • Pray for Ila Swick, Women in the Window International Health Coordinator, and Marcia Nayak, Women’s Cycle of Life Leader, as they provide an overview of the health training to the women leaders from North Africa (Thursday, January 23rd) and the Middle East (Sunday, January 26th).
  • Praise God and pray for new prospective volunteers who are traveling to learn more about how they can help Women in the Window!
  • Pray that as Kim meets with leaders they will prayerfully and strategically develop action plans for many nations and the region for 2014 and beyond.  Pray that they will be anointed by the Holy Spirit so that they can catch His vision for women in the Arab world, and for the resources to fulfill His vision.
  • As always, please pray for seamless, uneventful travel for both our team and our luggage, and for good health and sweet spirits throughout the trip until we return on January 29th.

Evening in the Courtyard Press Release

West Palm Beach, FL – January 14, 2014 – Please join Women in the Window International for our inaugural Evening in the Courtyard.  Kim Kerr, Executive Director, extends a personal invitation: “Please come and celebrate with us the dramatic ways in which women, their families, and communities are served through collaborative global efforts to overcome poverty, oppression, and despair with freedom and Grace.” Paulina from Ghana, who has benefited from micro-enterprise training, will be the guest speaker on February 20th at 7 p.m. at the Center for Philanthropy at 700 S. Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach.

Come enjoy an interactive global experience as you take in the sights, sounds, and tastes of every region where Women in the Window International works.  In addition to hearing how Paulina’s life has been transformed, guests will have the opportunity to give directly to the field through a silent auction of one-of-a-kind global items.  In addition, our Women in the Window International Servant Leadership team will bring fresh reports and photos from recent trips to South Sudan, Kenya, India, North Africa, and the Middle East.  Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with a worthy global cause!

Women in the Window International is part of a collaborative movement to see women in developing nations and dire situations, where oppression and injustices prevail, become beautifully equipped and wholly empowered by Grace. Together with their international partners in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, they are equipping and empowering women through spiritual formation, micro-enterprise training, leadership development, healthcare skills, and advocacy training.

To be a part of this event or to learn more about Women in the Window International, please contact Jessica Derosier at JessicaD@womeninthewindow-intl.org or 561-249-5377.  For more information about our organization, please peruse our website or visit us on Facebook.

Praise Report from “Image of Hope” Retreat

photo (2)We are having a wonderful time here in Bangalore at the “Image of Hope” retreat and praise God for all He is doing!  It has been one year since our last “Image of Hope” conference for anti-trafficking workers.  As we mentioned in our last post, their ministry is grueling, and the burnout rate in their line of work is high.  It is absolutely essential that they have times to get away and refresh themselves in the Lord.  The women have expressed how that first conference impacted them throughout the whole year.  Many took the concepts they learned and shared them in different contexts.  They have been looking forward with anticipation to our time together this year.

Our time together has truly been rewarding — and fun, as you can see from the photo!  Today Diane opened with a heartwarming devotion and Peggy delivered a powerful message on Moses.  The women were inspired and renewed.  Some of the women have really opened up and shared from their hearts with us.  We plan to end the night with dancing to the Lord and having some fun, and we will celebrate tomorrow with interpreting verses through dance, skits, and songs.  As the retreat concludes, please pray that the women will experience renewal and an even deeper relationship with the Lord.

We love you and are thankful for your prayers!

Love,
Michelle, Diane, and Peggy

Prayer Requests

  • As the retreat concludes, please pray that the women will experience renewal and an even deeper relationship with the Lord.  Pray that He will truly transform hearts and lives!
  • As these women return to the frontlines of rescuing and restoring  individuals from sex trafficking, pray that God will give them endurance to continue on in this life-saving work.
  • Please pray for safe travels and good health for our team.  We will depart India on January 13th.