In October each year, we celebrate the International Day Of The Girl Child, a day that aims to celebrate and encourage girls’ empowerment and fulfilment of their human rights. It also highlights the challenges that girls all over the world face.
In many countries, being young, female and Christian makes you vulnerable to persecution. Yet girls of the persecuted church are showing maturity beyond their years and standing up for their faith, no matter the cost.
Image: Bachu from Ethiopia at an Open Doors youth event.
Image: Susan, Uganda
When Susan’s Islamic family found out she was a Christian, her father locked her in a room and told her to sit on a mat until she was willing to deny Jesus.
She remained there, unmoving, for three months.
Susan was found nearly starved, confined in the filthy, airless room on her mat. She was unable to walk and weighed less than 20 kilograms.
When Susan was asked why she didn’t leave the mat, she said, “I cannot leave Jesus. He has given me eternal life and even if I died there, I was sure that I would go to Him.”
Image: Saree, India
Saree was only 11 when her family disowned her for following Jesus. After her brother found out that she was secretly attending church, he beat and threatened her.
When Saree refused to stop attending church, her father threw her out of their home, saying that she was no longer their daughter.
Saree is now living with an aunt in a nearby village. Her faith means that she is unable to attend school or see her family.
“I miss my family a lot,” she said. “But God has said that he will never leave nor forsake us… He is a father to the fatherless.
“I won’t leave Jesus.”
As the cost of following Jesus rises, many more will be forced to make hard choices about their lives and faith.
Image: Saree reading the Bible with an Open Doors partner.
These girls of the persecuted church represent the next generation of faith all over the world.
This year, the UN’s International Day Of The Girl Child is celebrating “unstoppable” girls. When girls of the persecuted church are empowered with the unstoppable gospel, they can withstand extreme persecution to witness the worth of Jesus to those around them.
There are always going to be things that try to stop us from following Jesus. We can’t avoid them, but we can overcome them, together.
*Name changed for security purposes.