Senana Cymru is an organisation of Baptist women in Wales who meet in area groups to learn, pray and support BMS World Mission financially. The AGM in May is held in the home church of the incoming President and the Annual Conference takes place in Lampeter in September. The Conference gives an opportunity to hear in depth from a worker with BMS World Mission about their life and place of service, to pray for them as well as to share in Bible study, prayer and fellowship – and great hospitality!
The Baptist Zenana Mission was formed in 1867 to support work initiated by women missionaries among the higher caste Hindu women who live secluded in zenanas, a private family area where no man outside the family could enter. In 1854 Mrs. Elizabeth Sale had started meeting women in the zenanas and through offering to teach them to read and sew she and other women were gradually able to talk about Jesus. The missionary women were keen to develop educational opportunities to enable the Hindu women to read the Scriptures for themselves and this led to the setting-up of zenana schools.
As the Hindu women preferred to see a female doctor, the BZM sent out Dr. Ellen Farrer who soon won the love and trust of her patients, serving them through famine and plague. She developed her dispensary into a hospital and also wrote a textbook for nurses and midwives.
The BZM expanded as women were sent to China, Congo and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). As the number of single women missionaries grew, the BZM felt in need of more support and in 1926 they amalgamated with BMS, but with their own department within the Society – the Women’s Missionary Association.
Although Zenana groups in England have become integrated into BMS World Mission groups, the Senana has remained a separate organisation in Wales. Senana groups in some areas are no longer meeting together due to the increasing age of their members, but the ladies uphold God’s work overseas in the long-standing Senana tradition as from their homes they continue to wield the vital Gospel weapons of financial support and prayer.
With thanks to BMS World Mission for permission to use material from their website – bmsworldmission.org/heritage/women-in-mission
The Baptists of Wales and the BMS 1792-1992 T.M. Bassett
Helaeth Gasglu L.E. Williams
Gathering Sheaves Ed. Betty Davies
I’r Holl Fyd Irene Myrddin Davies
Rev. Suzanne Roberts