Want better decision making? Invite the women

How Bible studies transformed long-held beliefs in a village in Chad – with impressive results.

Ignekalbo is a farmer from Makeure, a small village in the south west of Chad. He’s amazed at the transformation he’s seen.

‘Before the introduction of [the Bible studies] in our village, collaboration was a nightmare and the villagers’ social life was a mess. It was difficult for the population to work in mixed groups of men and women and different faiths,’ says Ignekalbo.

He adds: ‘People used to hate each other so it wasn’t easy to organise community meetings. This meant we weren’t able to reflect together on the state of the village and decide on joint actions for its development.’

Existing community groups were categorised by gender, age and religion and each group initiated projects alone. There was no room for women to integrate with men’s groups because of tradition. Women were neglected and viewed as ‘second-class people with no intelligence’.

Building relationships
A few years ago, Pastor Parmenas started to encourage his church in Makeure to spend more time on Bible studies. These have been written by Tearfund to help bring about transformation in communities like Makeure.

The Bible studies have helped the congregation to become better aware of the value of women, and the importance of building relationships with all community members – irrespective of gender, age and beliefs.

‘Once we internalised the word of God, we decided to allow women to join in with decision making,’ says Ignekalbo. ‘The men created space for women and welcomed them. Once the women felt accepted, valued and respected, they began to take an active part alongside men.’

The achievements have been many: drilling a borehole that provides drinking water to the population all year round; setting up a community school and building classrooms; re-planting trees; using community farms to provide income to support village projects and many more.

Today, women and men in the church are elected as equals at a decision making level. And women actively participate in group discussions where they often challenge men.

A good example
When other women in the village saw what had happened with the church, they gained confidence and started to follow the example of the Christian women.

Now men and women from different backgrounds work together, as well as Christians and non-Christians. People from all walks of life occupy important positions of responsibility.

‘As we work together with non-Christians, some of them have started to gradually come to church, whereas before, they hated Christians and did not want to hear about the church,’ says Ignekalbo.

‘The Christians also used to hate non-Christians and did not want to approach them. Now the situation has completely changed and suddenly the relationships have greatly improved. Everyone works together well for the development of the village. We are very grateful to God for that.’

PLEASE PRAY

  • Pray for the village of Makeure, Chad. Ask God to continue to strengthen relationships across traditional divides.
  • Pray that the success of these Bible studies will continue to have an impact across Chad and beyond, and for Tearfund's staff and partners as they share them.
  • Pray for the attitudes of people here in the UK. Pray that barriers of gender, race, social background and beliefs will be brought down.
A version of this article originally appeared on Tearfund Learn – a platform for sharing our learning and resources around the world.
Kal-Ignabet Pakagochy
Kal-Ignabet Pakagochy is the director of the Christian Centre of Development Support (CECADEC), one of Tearfund’s partners in Chad.