Release Women held two conferences during the first quarter of 2013, calling on women in the UK and Northern Ireland to learn and pray more for their sisters in the persecuted church.
In London, the Release Women heart2heart conference, held at St Barnabas Church, Woodside Park, was called ‘A garment of praise’. It drew on Isaiah 61 for inspiration.
Women speakers from Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan, who cannot be named for their own protection, spoke on the sufferings of Christians in their countries.
Delegates heard how Sri Lankan Buddhist monks have led attacks on churches. Pastors have been beaten and authorities have prevented the building of new churches.
In Kyrgyzstan, Muslim nationalists regard Christianity as an ‘unwanted Russian import’ and attack believers. The speaker described how she had survived such an attack in her own house.
During the conference, Nigerian Christian woman Nvou Dauda, who died after a second violent attack on her by Islamic militants, was especially remembered. Emma Dipper, who heads Release Women, said, ‘Nvou has let go of her sackcloth and ashes and is now wearing a garment of praise.
‘We need to understand what being a disciple of Jesus is about. Jesus’ message of redemption and wholeness was achieved through suffering. The gospel is also one of sacrifice’.
In Ballymena, Northern Ireland, on 2 March, the other Release Women’s conference was held. Called ‘Faith, hope and love’, it was hosted by Wellington Presbyterian Church.