Executive Summary of the Fruitful Practices Among Women Workers: A Mixed-Methods Study By K.B. Hauman and Mary James
In Islam today there is an enormous diversity in the way women are treated, but what remains consistent is that their role in society is vastly different from men. Those who desire to plant churches among Muslims often find that the tools and strategies they use with men need to be adapted in order to reach women. At its heart, the research behind this paper seeks to answer the question, “What has proven effective for reaching Muslim women?
All the previous Fruitful Practice research reports included data from both men and women. Yet it became clear that analysis which focused specifically on women was necessary. This report is the result of that focus applied to our recently completed second round of research.
Data was gathered from expatriate women working in Muslim contexts as well as from near-culture workers. This paper is the distilled result of that effort, the surveys and interviews gathered from the frontiers of ministry, and an analysis of how that informs future work.
The major findings included:
1. Gender differences. Generally speaking men and women agreed on the importance of the same practices. However women reported much less access to local believers and churches. This has a major impact on their ability to be involved in certain practices. Women also tended to put a higher importance than men on the value of relating to society by respecting cultural practices. Men and women often reported the same values, but the way or the style in which they were implemented varied greatly.
2. Prayer among women. Prayer plays a pivotal and multi-dimensional role in women’s conversion experiences as well as in church growth. Prayer by Christian women not only shows compassion but demonstrates a personal relationship with God. Muslim women were drawn to Christ when they saw the depth of the relationship they can have and as they saw prayers answered in tangible ways. For many workers among Muslim women, prayer is not only their personal lifeline but a most effective witnessing strategy.
3. New Fruitful Practices. Three potential new Fruitful Practices were uncovered. One is specific to women as it relates to their style of dress and appearance, while the other two are applicable to workers from both genders.
This report offers significant advances in the research that is available on women in church-planting among Muslims. The lessons and applications gleaned in this report are affirmed by hundreds of people across the world. It has applications in missionary training, church-planting strategy, media, community development and spiritual growth. Many women reported feeling isolated in their ministry, and this report gives them a chance to connect across the continents with other women in similar positions. For example, they may be inspired to look beyond prayer as part of their personal spiritual life and to be more intentional in using prayer to communicate the Gospel.
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