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“Better Together”

A Letter from Ruth Brown, serving in Ghana

September 2019

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Greetings! from Saboba in northern Ghana, where one hears:

Kihambik klbaa aan hmaa pii litakpal.

“One finger cannot pick up a stone.”
Meaning: Where there is no unity there is no progress. One finger cannot pick up a stone.”

Presbytery of Lake Erie understands the importance of such unity. With “Better Together—PW of Lake Erie and Ghana” as the theme for their Presbyterian Women’s Gathering, 75 women gathered to celebrate their presbytery’s partnership with Upper Northern Presbytery of Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana. The gathering was a half-day celebration, ending with lunch for everyone.

After the usual business reports the bulletin gave directions for the offering: “Following the tradition of our sister churches in Ghana, please walk or dance your offering to the front of the church and place it in the offering basket,” while special Ghanaian music was played.

Following this joyful, dancing offering time was a brief video about how shea butter is made in Ghana and two brief reports about the current partnership work between Upper Northern Presbytery and Lake Erie Presbytery. One effort, for example, is strengthening a community clinic in Wapuli, not far from Saboba.

After these presentations, the group arranged for me to speak to them from Ghana by Skype, and I responded to questions about life in the Northern Region of Ghana and described our work plans here.

Then everyone divided into three groups of choice, working on:
• Creating bottles of Ghanaian shea butter lotion for sale, with proceeds going to the equipping of Wapuli Clinic;
• Cutting out material using patterns for “Days for Girls” kits, washable/reusable cloth menstrual pads for girls in Ghana with hope that these will enable them to spend more days in school; and
• Making colorful homemade prayer cards for their next presbytery mission team to distribute to Presbyterian women’s groups in Ghana.

Interspersed throughout the morning was joyful hymn singing in true Ghanaian fashion!

One of the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s emphases is “building congregational vitality.” How I wish all of you could visit throughout the U.S. like we mission co-workers are able to do during our interpretation assignments, when we travel to many states to speak with churches about the partnerships they have helped to build around the world. The churches I visited witnessed to me, showing me how even the smallest of congregations were finding ways to multiply their loaves and fishes for world mission!

On one visit to a community near Seattle, Washington, I met 10 women who comprise the entire Presbyterian Women (PW) program of Maplewood Church near Seattle. Raising funds for the PW Thank Offering in the two years before my visit, these women made about fifteen different kinds of pies, setting generous slices out on a plate in a fellowship hall after the morning worship. Beside each pie slice they placed a plastic water glass for donations. In this way, for two years running, they have collected $4,000 for the Thank Offering!

First Presbyterian Church in Jefferson City, Tennessee has become known for their support of local and worldwide mission work. Annually, in October on a day close to World Communion Sunday, this small church holds a “Mission Yard Sale.” Eva Zirkle, member of the Mission Yard Sale’s planning committee, told me that this annual yard sale is a great joy for the whole church, and that every single church member of all ages and abilities find ways of assisting. Years ago, the first couple of yard sales brought in $1,000, then $2,000 for mission. Eva said, “This year will be our 26th Mission Yard Sale and we have managed to raise over $200,000 over the years! We are so proud! We started small and it just grew over the years.”

The church’s Mission Yard Sale has become so well-known that large companies are donating equipment for them to sell to benefit mission work. Check out just how large the donated equipment is in this photo from the local paper where Ms. Eva Zirkle is pictured!

Our partnership in Congo benefitted from First Presbyterian Church of Jefferson City’s generosity when, after one of their annual Mission Yard Sales, Eva, with all members of her church present, presented me with a $10,000 check they were mailing to their presbytery for my sending and support!

Small churches give so generously to World Mission. My former church, Holmes Presbyterian Church, has given incredibly generous annual gifts every year to my sending and support. Their love and support of the mission of the Church is powerful, and they are a witness to me with their outpouring of food and fellowship and hospitality whenever I am with them.

Currently my membership is with Ginter Park Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia. On September 11 this year, members gathered in the church office to collate attachments from my many emails of that day to form two piles with papers for two proposals from Evangelical Presbyterian Church (E.P. Church), Ghana, and from EPDRA, the Development and Relief Agency of the E.P. Church, Ghana, to the Thank Offering. One proposal is for a tutoring program that will, in two years’ time, prepare 300 unschooled children to enter public school at the third grade level. The other proposal is designed to give 18 months of agricultural assistance and training to representatives from 50 families on one of Ghana’s witches’ camps (For more information about Ghana’s witches’ camps, see bbc.com/news/magazine-19437130. Both programs include Bible study. Many of you assisted with these proposals by writing support letters. The Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ghana received support letters for these proposals from 25 Presbyterian Women (PW) groups of PC(USA)! Thank you all!

Thank you, too, for your prayers, your words of encouragement, and your donations to my sending and support. If you have not joined this partnership and would like to do so, one way of giving would be to donate to my sending and support. Another way of giving is to be very generous with your donations to Thank Offering, a program that brings life and needed resources to many church-related programs throughout the world. Please consider giving to the Thank Offering even if your church has no PW group. You can learn more by visiting presbyterianwomen.org/what_we_do/support-mission/thank-offering.

World Mission is truly a partnership that takes all of our fingers to build. The Ghanaians are correct—there is progress only with unity. Let us all be one for the building up of the Church!

Thank you all for your prayers of support, your generous gifts, and your hearts for mission.

Love,

Ruth

Please read this important message from Sara Lisherness, interim director of Presbyterian World Mission

Dear friend of Presbyterian Mission,

Greetings in Christ! As the interim director of Presbyterian World Mission, I am grateful to have the opportunity to thank you for your continued support of PC(USA) mission co-workers.

The enclosed newsletter bears witness to some of the many ways in which God is at work in the world through long-standing relationships between global partners and the PC(USA). These partnerships are nurtured and strengthened by the presence of mission co-workers in over 40 countries; you are an important part of this partnership too, as you learn about and share how our church is involved in global ministry; as you pray for our partners and mission co-workers; and as you take action to work with others for God’s justice, peace and healing.

I write to invite you to continue joining us in partnership in three ways. First, your prayers are always needed. Please pray that God will continue guiding the shared work of the PC(USA) and global partners as we engage together in service around the world. Pray, too, for mission co-workers, that they may feel encouraged in the work they are doing under the leadership of global partners.

Second, please consider making a year-end gift for the sending and support of at least one mission co-worker. There is a remittance form at the end of this letter and an enclosed envelope so that you can send in a special year-end gift.

Finally, I encourage you to ask your session to include one or more mission co-workers in your congregation’s mission budget for 2020 and beyond. PC(USA) mission co-workers’ sending and support costs are funded by the designated gifts of individuals and congregations like yours; your gifts allow Presbyterian World Mission to fulfill global partners’ requests for mission personnel.

Faithfully in Christ,

Sara Pottschmidt Lisherness
Director, Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry
Interim Director, Presbyterian World Mission


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