Ruth Brown

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Community Health Facilitator, Zimbabwe
Location: Harare, Zimbabwe
Position in D. R. Congo: 2011-2016
Position Start Date in Zimbabwe: 2017
Ecumenical Partner: Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) – Harare Synod

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Ruth occasionally returns to the U.S. and is available to visit congregations. Email her to extend an invitation to visit your congregation or organization.

Ministry Description:

Ruth Brown works with the leadership of the CCAP Harare Synod and serves as a resource, advisor, and colleague to the convener of the Synod’s Chikondano (“Love”) HIV/AIDS and Vulnerable Children Committee, as the committee works to promote health and prevent diseases throughout the CCAP and the communities in which it ministers.  For health program sustainability, Ruth supports church and community leadership training for the implementation of maintainable processes for program planning, monitoring, and evaluation. She assists the church in collaborating with existing community health programs to promote continuity of care.

Ruth also works with CCAP leaders to explore and plan economic initiatives intended to reduce poverty (for example; income generation schemes, community savings and loans programs, and entrepreneurship training, etc.).  These economic initiatives are also necessary to support and sustain a health program.

Additionally, Ruth is available to accompany and support the ministries of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA) on similar topics, as requested by the Moderator of the UPCSA Presbytery of Zimbabwe.

Country Profile:

Landlocked Zimbabwe is home to roughly 15 million people, about 80% of whom are Christian. Endowed with fertile farmland and mineral wealth, the country was at one time the “breadbasket” of Southern Africa. More recently, drought, economic decline, and a highly contested land reform program have posed serious challenges for Zimbabwe and the churches who minister in this context, including the PC(USA)’s partners, the CCAP Harare Synod and the UPCSA Presbytery of Zimbabwe, each of which have about 9,000 members.

Ruth Brown Profile: Ruth Brown brings 25 years of public health experience to mission service and a deep commitment to serve Christ by empowering people. She works with communities to address the root causes of poor health and poverty rather than just treat symptoms.  She strives to helps communities evaluate their situations and develop solutions that will serve their entire neighborhoods. “This building up of people to enjoy abundant life in Christ is the work of social justice, which, according to what my family and my church have always taught me, is the will of God,” she says.

As a seasoned public health professional, Ruth brings a storehouse of knowledge to her duties.  Ruth was a health service specialist with Rural Family Development in Onancock, Virginia, an agency of the Virginia Council of Churches, from 1999 to 2010. Previously she was director of health promotion for the Somerset County Health Department in Westover, Maryland. She has also been a health education coordinator for a tri-state migrant health program on the Delmarva Peninsula, a homeless center manager in Virginia, and a high school English teacher in North Carolina and Virginia.

Ruth’s history on the African continent goes back to 1979, when she served in the Peace Corps, first in the Ivory Coast, where she taught technical English in an Agricultural University, and then in Central African Republic, where her focus was health promotion. Her experience with the Peace Corps made an impression on her: “The joy and faith of the people, their courage, hard work and good humor, and, in particular, the determined will of the women to assist their children and their families, have been powerful examples for me.”

From 2011-2016, Ruth was a mission co-worker for community development with the Presbyterian Community of Congo in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Programs she helped initiate and support include Promoting Human Rights and Domestic Violence Prevention for Rural Women in Kasai, Ditekemena Program to support vulnerable children, Healthy Children Program (a program promoting childhood malnutrition using Community Healthy Evangelism), and a program of micro-savings and loan targeting rural women.

Although she has worked on the African continent, she welcomes the prospect of working with a new people with different needs and conditions.  “I am looking forward to working with and learning from members of the Harare Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP), who have already developed a committee to serve vulnerable people, including persons with HIV/AIDS and widows and orphans” she says. “I will greatly enjoy serving with these leaders.”

Ruth holds an undergraduate degree from Davidson College and a master’s degree in public health from the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University.

A member of Ginter Park Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia, Ruth hopes her life will bear witness to God’s concern for the dignity of all people. “I hope that I can support the current ministry of churches in Zimbabwe in such a way that more people will recognize that all people, regardless of nationality, sex, age or physical abilities, are blessed creations who have full citizenship in the Kingdom of God.”

A guiding scripture for her life is Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” “During his life on earth, Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled what the Lord requires,” Ruth says. “As Christians, we are to show our love with such action.”