The Women of Pokot ministry is focused on encouraging and discipling women in the harsh world of western Kenya. Partnering with People on Mission, its goal is to train up women who are committed to reaching other women in the community and sharing God’s love with them. The ministry also supports the National Zero Tolerance Day, which speaks out against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
Pokot culture places little value on women. They are treated more as possessions, and are not allowed to own or inherit anything. Young girls will bring a dowry of up to 45 cows to struggling families, contributing to early marriages, often to men much older than them. Because of FGM, many endure monthly physical pain and complications in childbirth. Each day, they carry the burden of finding water, food, and shelter in a land stricken by constant drought. They work hard to pay school fees, knowing education will provide a better life for their children. While their society treats them as having little value, we know that God values each precious Pokot woman and her children.
For the last few years, I have had the privilege to be a part of the Women of Pokot team from Kensington Church in Michigan. Each February, our team spends about two weeks traveling to encourage, educate, and empower the Pokot women. In Kapenguria, we hold a training day with leaders from the local women’s groups. Transitioning away from a focus on basic training in job skills, as the women have excelled in that area, training is now focused on discipleship. We share our stories and listen to theirs, pray together, lead Bible training, and encourage the women to be Godly leaders in their communities. After experiencing the power of “listening prayer” during our team training, we were excited to share this spiritual tool with the leaders and women’s groups. Just as we had experienced, the
women let go of the lies they had believed about their worth and value, and heard God speak clearly His true names for them, hearing words like “Ambassador,” “Rock,” “Strong Tower”, and “Child of God.” God truly has great plans for each one of them as they continue to grow as Christ’s ambassadors in their families, villages, and communities.
We also support efforts to end FGM among the Pokot. Partnering with Becky Chebet, a local Kenyan and United Nations-trained anti-FGM presenter, the team attends and speaks at the local National Zero Tolerance Day rally, typically attended by more than a thousand Pokot men and women. The team also travels with Becky as she speaks at local high schools, standing with her to share with young girls that they “are fearfully and wonderfully made” by God and offering hope to those who have already undergone this horrific practice. We also use every opportunity to encourage the young women to finish their education and be leaders among their peers.
Each year, the Pokot women say how amazed they are to have women come from the other side of the world to meet with them. As one Pokot woman shared, “It is a miracle that I would share a meal with a you!” And while they tell us that meeting together refreshes and encourages them, our team members leave forever changed and challenged by the strength and courage of the Pokot women, who truly become our sisters in Christ.
By: Stacy Mallard, Guest Contributor