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Cheryl Barnes

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Mission co-worker in Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe
Serving as the education facilitator for the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP)

Contact: Cheryl Barnes (cheryl.barnes@pcusa.org)

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Cheryl is periodically in the United States and available to speak to congregations as her schedule permits. Email her to extend an invitation to visit your congregation or organization.

About Cheryl Barnes’ ministry

As the education facilitator for the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP), Cheryl Barnes collaborates with the CCAP Education Department and the education departments of the five CCAP Synods — three in Malawi, one in Zambia, and one in Zimbabwe — to improve the quality of primary school education in the many schools under the CCAP umbrella. In her role as an education advisor, Cheryl strives to assist the CCAP in improving the quality of teaching and implementing best practices in educating children, including those with special needs. A focus of Cheryl’s ministry is working with the CCAP to safeguard the rights of children by developing child protection policies and implementing them in schools. Of particular emphasis is protecting young girls against violence and empowering them to continue their schooling.

Research confirms that one of the key ways to lift a community from the grips of poverty is through the education of children. Nelson Mandela wrote, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” The CCAP Education Department is not only transforming children’s lives, but it is transforming entire communities. Cheryl is honored to be a part of this process.

Regional context

The Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) is a thriving denomination with a membership of more than 3 million congregants throughout Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Despite minimal budgets, the CCAP has multiple departments through which vibrant holistic ministry takes place — especially in education, health and development. Educating thousands of students each year, the CCAP’s approximately 1500 schools play a vital role in their communities.

Due to a lack of financial resources, the CCAP schools face a number of challenges that compromise their effectiveness. They are chronically under-staffed and over-crowded, with student-teacher ratios as high as 100:1. Books are in short supply. Moreover, schools struggle to address issues such as early childhood development, child protection, the rights and needs of young girls, clean water and sanitation.

Unflagging in its commitment to helping children and communities flourish, the CCAP Education Department is working diligently to improve the educational experience for all students.

About Cheryl Barnes

Rev. Cheryl Barnes’ call to long-term mission service did not fully evolve until her daughter became a 2017 Presbyterian Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) in Lima, Peru. As she supported her daughter and witnessed her spiritual growth during her YAV year, Cheryl became increasingly open to seeing her gifts being used in a different context within the church. She recalls, “As a pastor of a small congregation in a marginalized community, I often prayed the prayer of Jabez, ‘Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from hurt and harm!’” Believing that God will keep her from harm, she has answered the call to serve in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. God is faithfully enlarging her borders far beyond what she had imagined. “As I have dared to look at my life through a wider margin, I have seen the hand of God leading me to this place,” Cheryl shares.

In answering the call to mission service, Cheryl feels great affinity with Abraham, a man of faith who was called out from his familiar surroundings to enter another land. “Like Abraham,” Cheryl explains, “I am unsure of the difficulties, inconveniences, and uncertainties that are on the horizon. But my faith ensures me that I am not alone, that the omnipresent God sees me wherever I am. I know that my journey comes with the opportunity to share my gifts with the loving people of Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe and to learn from them.”

Prior to entering ordained ministry, Cheryl taught special education and worked in early childhood education. Her experience in educating children, a commitment to service, and a teachable spirit have prepared her well for this ministry. Additionally, God has given Cheryl a deep love for people, and a heart for the most vulnerable. Cheryl’s hope for the Church is that it will “focus on well-planned, spiritually motivating ministries that instill knowledge, life skills, and hope while encouraging the body to glorify God through words AND deeds.”

Cheryl grew up in Georgia. She earned her Bachelor of Science in special education at Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia; her Master of Business Administration at Nova University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; and her Master of Divinity at Colombia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. She is a member of the Northeast Georgia Presbytery.