Kashmir has an upper class, and in comparison to other parts of India, they are very rich. Only Kashmiri’s are allowed to own land here, and many own large three to four story homes. Education is very important in their culture, and many women become doctors or even business owners. I met with some of these women at a book club, hosted by a well known woman doctor. Our friends in Kashmir began this book club with the hopes of sharing the Gospel with these upper class women. They are currently reading a Christian book that is about living with boundaries, something the Kashmiri women seem to struggle with.
As they shared with each other, it was clear that they had developed a trust with one another, something that can not be found easily. They share that they often encounter jealousy amongst sisters’ in laws and other relatives. They are very careful about what they say and fearful of handling something without sensitivity and making someone angry. Much gossiping and backbiting occurs within the complicated family ties. As a result many of these women feel isolated and lonely.
Such issues such as jealousy and trust are also common to American women. We are hesitant to trust others and can isolate ourselves. That is why the church has been such a safe haven for us. Here we find other fellow believers and can let go of any walls that we have built around us. Our sisters in the church share the same Spirit and we live in forgiveness, grace, and love. Although not always perfect, the bride of Christ offers a place for a woman to belong, to be encouraged, to be strengthened, and to fulfill her purpose.
The Kashmiri women need such a place. They need that shelter, a refuge, from the world. If only they could share the same Spirit, then their hearts would be open to loving each other in the way that Christ loves us. They could share trust, forgiveness, love, and kindness. Others would see their bond as different from the ancient family ties that have existed before. They would question them, and they would be able to answer, it is because Christ is within us.