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The child brides of Kenya

Women’s ministry in Isiolo cares for the least reached

Can you imagine how it would feel to sell your 14-year-old daughter in marriage?

Parents all around the world have the same basic desires for their children—good education, health, safety, and the hope of a promising future. But for the women of Isiolo, Kenya, many obstacles lie in their path as they attempt to provide for their families.

Like in many rural villages in Africa, young girls are sold in marriage at an early age. They are purchased for a bride price, income that their families desperately need to survive. Being in a pastoralist culture, the young brides in Isiolo are usually sold in exchange for cattle.

“Many women in this village face trials daily. Many were married at a young age, endure physical abuse by their spouses, fight a daily battle to find enough food to feed their children, and suffer from illnesses due to a lack of healthcare. As a result, many feel hopeless and even report feeling that it is a curse to be a woman.

“We wanted these precious women, who stare hopelessness in the face each day, to find hope—hope in Jesus Christ our Savior,” said Pass.

Mission Society missionaries Sonia Crawley and Sonji Pass serve in Kenya. They have a ministry to the Turkana and Samburu people, which are considered least-reached people groups in Kenya, meaning they have little access to the gospel. Pass and Crawley, in collaboration with the women’s group from their church in Nairobi, coordinated a short-term mission trip to Isiolo to minister to the women there.

Twelve women and four men spent four days in the Kiwanja village. They showed the female version of the Jesus Film, “Magdalena: Through Her Eyes,” visited hut-to-hut while sharing their faith with the residents, visited the women’s ward of the local hospital, and hosted a day-long women’s conference. More than 100 women attended the conference, which covered topics such as prayer, community, and body image.

“The primary message that we wanted to convey to these women was that Jesus is waiting to step into the story of their lives, right where they are, just as He did in the Bible,” said Crawley.

As a result of the mission trip, more than 40 people made the decision to accept Jesus as Lord of their lives. During prayer time in the conference session, one woman was prayed for and healed of a physical ailment. Many of the women felt encouraged by the conference and resolved not to give their own daughters in marriage at such a young age.

“We desire to build the capacity of the Turkana and Samburu people, create communities for Jesus, and develop disciples,” said Pass. “We were able to connect these women with a nearby church plant so the local pastor could disciple them as they grow in their relationship with Christ.”

Pass and Crawley travel back to the villages monthly to meet with women and host workshops. Some of these women will receive microloans and mentoring on how to start their own small business.

“Please pray for this ministry,” said Crawley. “Pray for the safety and salvation of the women in these villages, for educational opportunities for the girls, for the salvation of the men and their hearts to be softened towards the women, and for favor and wisdom to serve in an effective and fruitful manner.”

Sonia Crawley and Sonji Pass coordinate the KenYa Believe It ministry which seeks to empower, equip, and transform the lives of indigenous and marginalized people for a sustainable future and guaranteed eternity. You can learn more on their Facebook page—Ken Ya Believe It.