I watched the hundreds of worshipers come forward to bring their offering and was inspired by their joy and enthusiasm as they sang and danced. The Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana is a mission partner of Global Ministries and one of our hosts for the Woman-to-Woman Journey. It was so different than the Sunday mornings at home but it was so obvious we share the same faith.
Each fall a small group of North American Disciple women travel to another part of the world to experience life there and then return to share the story with those at home. For almost thirty years Woman-to-Woman Worldwide has been sponsored jointly by Disciples Women and Global Ministries. In 2016 I was privileged to be part of the journey to Ghana and South Africa. I first heard about Woman-to-Woman (W2W) more than 20 years ago while attending a day-long event at a neighboring DOC church. I was fascinated by the stories told by a participant and by the words of the Disciples Women’s prayer, “Open our eyes to the needs of the world and fill our hearts with concern for all people.” I was very fortunate to be part of the group that traveled to Indonesia in 1997 and found it to be a life-changing experience. This past year I was again part of an extraordinary W2W journey.
Our group consisted of ten women from across the United States and two staff members from Indianapolis. Very few of these twelve had ever met before we gathered in the city of departure. We visited many mission partners of Global Ministries as well as historical and cultural sites. We were guests in many churches and shared worship, fellowship and meals with our African friends.
Our journey took us first to Ghana on the west coast of Africa. This nation has been independent since the early 1950’s but still struggles with the legacy of colonialism and as the former center of the slave trade. Our mission partner, the Christian Council of Ghana, showed us some of the work they do to help those in need. Along the ocean many people earn a living by fishing but the work is seasonal and families do not have enough income. Some are forced to send a child away to avoid the expense of food and clothing. Many of these children are trafficked and never heard from again and those who do return tell of hard labor and abuse. The Council has created a fish drying business to bring in year-long income. Fish are purchased during the high season at a low price, the fish are then dried to be sold at a higher price during the off-season. We walked to the shore and watched while the women showed us how they carry the baskets of fish back up to the village. We were amazed at the pride and strength of these women who are working so hard to make life better for their children.
Then traveling diagonally across the huge continent of Africa, we spent time in South Africa where the effects of the years of apartheid are evident everywhere. We visited the site where Nelson Mandela was captured; it is now a national historical monument. And we spent time in Soweto visiting Mandela’s home and museums. One morning was spent in church where we met with local people to talk about the future of the church. I sat next to a strong 92 year old woman who remembered that the church in which we were meeting had been there through all the years of apartheid. It had served as a refuge during the times of violence. She held my hand and wanted me to pray for them and promised she would pray for people in my country.
There are so many signs of hope in South Africa. One mission partner is a girls’ boarding school serving grades 8-12. Founded in 1869, Inanda Seminary has educated the very brightest young women in this nation. The story of its survival during apartheid is inspiring. During our visit, we were each paired with a student and attended classes with her. Each of these girls hopes to attend university and go on help her nation.
I am excited to share this journey with my fellow Disciples in Mid-America. Please contact me at my email, firstname.lastname@example.org. I have a flexible schedule and welcome a chance to speak and show pictures to any group. I will not charge for presentations and any contributions will go directly to Global Ministries for the ministry partners. I look forward to meeting many of you soon and introducing you to the wonderful people of Ghana and South Africa and the participants in Woman-to-Woman.
Thank you to Betty Quicksall of Community Christian Church in Manchester
for sharing this story.