A ministry to migrant maids who are often abused by the women who employ them…on average, one maid in this city commits suicide each week.
In a Middle Eastern city, Kiwi mission partner Stef produces and distributes ‘Jesus’ DVDs* —more than a quarter of a million copies to date, all duplicated on two machines in her lounge, dubbed in eight languages for viewers to select from.
Her distribution network covers about 250 shops, currency exchanges and phone centres, places where travelers are likely to go, such as Iranian pilgrims passing through. Especially close to her heart are the migrant workers who take the free DVD in large numbers. Many of them are domestic servants, cut off from their own ethnic communities, and in their isolation, often treated cruelly by their employers.
Even those who don’t have access to DVD players in their employers’ homes never throw the DVDs away: they take them back to their home countries. Migrant-workers’ churches also use them for evangelism. At a recent conference for four Ethiopian churches, Ethiopian women took 4,500 DVDs to distribute – “they would have taken more but I ran out,” says Stef.
More recently she has added audio to her gospel-sharing toolbag. “The MP3 player project was stimulated by an Ethiopian maid who lives in the same building as me. She had been in this country for 19 months and the only time she had ever left the apartment was when her madam [the woman of the house for whom she works] took her to clean her mother’s house. I gave her an MP3 I’d loaded with the New Testament in her own language, along with lots of worship songs. She ran it flat that first night – she must have listened to it for five hours. That gave me the idea of doing the same for other maids, virtual prisoners in their madam’s home. How truly transformational it could be,” says Stef. In her city on average, one maid commits suicide each week.
Using a crowd-funding website Stef raised USD 17,000 in just two months for this project. While preparing the audio material, she co-ordinated people in various countries for the three languages used, and had them manufactured in China. The first order for 1,000 of the audio devices were all distributed last year. The second order of 3,500, costing US$60,000, is currently being distributed by Stef, going from building to building, through the concierges. About 15-20 go out per night.
“They are making a difference. One concierge told me an Ethiopian worker burst into tears when she heard worship music in her language. I’m getting good feedback when I follow up with the Syrian concierges (who are offered a gospel, Jesus film and tract). Nearly all are very happy to get the literature and a couple have gone to church with me. They are spiritually thirsty. A friend says he’s never seen such openness in his 35 years in the Middle East.” Stef’s experience, entrepreneurial skills and passion to see lives transformed through the gospel has significant potential.
—updated from a MECO article
Pray that the audio players would bring joy and salvation to those who hear (Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans and Ethiopians) and that the swell of Syrians coming to faith would become a flood
*The Jesus film, first screened 37 years ago, is everywhere. Every eight seconds someone, somewhere in the world, indicates a desire to follow Jesus Christ after watching the movie, according to jesusfilm.org. “It impacts lives. My friend met a Sri Lankan woman in prison who said she’d seen the film. A foreign woman had pulled up beside her in her car, opened the window and gave her a DVD out of the window. She’d taken it home and watched it with her Buddhist roommate who cried her way through the movie,” Stef says.