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A worldwide roundup

Reports on mission co-workers serving on four continents

from Mission Crossroads | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Cheryl H. Barnes works to improve the quality of education for thousands of primary students in three African nations. (Photo by Richard Keller)

LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been committed to interconnectional ministry in God’s mission at the local, national and global levels since 1837. Since that time, more than 8,000 mission co-workers have shared the good news of Jesus Christ with millions of people worldwide.

Meet some of our mission co-workers around the world.

 Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe:
Improving education and fighting systemic poverty

The Rev. Cheryl H. Barnes, education facilitator with the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP), works to improve the quality of education for thousands of primary students in more than 1,500 schools in CCAP’s five synods — three in Malawi, one in Zambia and one in Zimbabwe. The position is a collaboration of the CCAP, the PC(USA) and the Reformed Churches of America, supported in part by the Malawi Mission Network. Since research shows that educating children is a key way to lift a community from the grips of poverty, Barnes is honored that God has called her to serve as a mission coworker in Central Africa. Barnes’ undeniable call to mission draws upon her experience as a special education teacher, preschool administrator and former pastor of Sardis Presbyterian Church near Atlanta.

Barnes works alongside the CCAP to address priority needs, such as reducing student-teacher ratios, increasing access to resources such as books, protecting young girls against violence and empowering them to complete their education. She plans to partner with teachers and families of children who have special needs to assist them in developing personalized educational improvement plans.

This collaborative work focuses on building a coalition of parents, teachers, community and church leaders, along with other stakeholders whose main goal is to ensure that high-quality instruction exists for all children in the primary level CCAP schools.

Support Cheryl Barnes in Africa:

The Rev. Cathy Chang and her husband, Juan Lopez. (Contributed photo)

Southeast Asia: Redeeming heartache through hope

Based in Manila, the Rev. Cathy Chang serves the Southeast Asia region as the regional facilitator for addressing migration and human trafficking. Working closely with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and other partners in ministry, she engages programs and networks across Southeast Asia that advocate for people vulnerable to human trafficking and those who have been victimized by perpetrators of this global crime

Her husband, Juan Lopez, supports the Baigani organization, partner churches and social workers in trauma-healing. He also works alongside CREATE-UCCP (Church-Related Educational Action Towards Empowerment) as it addresses the needs of UCCP schools.

The two recognized their call to international mission in 2002, while volunteering in Egypt. Chang was serving in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) program, and Lopez was serving with Action Chrétienne en Orient (Christians in Action in the East), a mission agency supported by French Protestants.

Both can look back on their family histories and find evidence of forced migration, a reality experienced by many victims of human trafficking. They carry a deep concern for those whose hope for a better life for themselves and their families has been dashed through forced labor and/or sexual exploitation, which the United Nations’ International Labor Organization estimates affects 21 million people worldwide.

Support Cathy Chang and Juan Lopez in Asia:

The Rev. Ryan and Alethia White. (Photo by Wanda Coffey)

Germany: Offering hospitality and hope to Iranian refugees

Mission co-workers the Rev. Ryan and Alethia White provide pastoral care for Iranian refugees in partnership with the Iranian Presbyterian Church in Berlin (IPC), where Ryan is pastor. They work within and beyond the walls of the church to serve refugees who have fled their homelands in search of asylum and a better life.

In addition to writing letters of support for asylum seekers, the Whites help guide refugees through the asylum application process, including attending legal proceedings so they do not have to go alone. Although sometimes the scope of the refugee crisis can seem overwhelming, the Whites rejoice when members support one another, celebrate answered prayers, and understand more about what it means to be joined in a worshiping community together and contributing to the life of the church.

The past year has seen the formation of a music group that meets weekly to practice songs and support one another in prayer, the election of elders to help support the ministry of the church, and leaders in the church beginning theological studies and serving the church through their education.

The Whites are encouraged when members receive acceptance to stay in Germany, find stable housing and employment opportunities, and become more integrated into the new land they call home

Support Ryan and Alethia White in Germany:

Chenoa Stock and José Luis Claure Villarroel. (Photo by José Luis Claure Villarroel)

Peru: Strengthening partnerships for mutual mission

Chenoa Stock, a mission co-worker with the Evangelical Church of Peru (IEP), serves as the delegations and partnership coordinator for PERUSA, a program of the Joining Hands Peru Network. Her husband, native Bolivian José Luis Claure Villarroel, and their son, Leandro Aiden, accompany her in ministry.

PERUSA works to create and develop long-term partnerships that make a difference through delegation visits, shared mission projects and faithful reflection. By working together to address the root causes of poverty, mission partners can support the church and the network in advocating for human rights, economic development and environmental protection.

In her role, Stock sets up delegation visits, including in-country logistics, assistance in planning itineraries and the work with the delegation trip leaders as well as the communities visited. She organizes, accompanies and interprets for visiting delegations, helping to ensure that visits to Peru reflect the mission priorities of all partners.

Chenoa is a native of Pittsburgh, a daughter of retired Presbyterian co-pastors and a former Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) in India. It was during her YAV year of service that she was introduced to the Joining Hands Network and began to see her role in the world differently. She also served as a PC(USA) mission co-worker in Sri Lanka for four years and Bolivia for eight years, prior to her assignment in Peru.

Support Chenoa Stock in Peru:

Mission co-worker prayer cards tell where and how mission co-workers are making a difference in the world. (Contributed photo)

Every card tells a story

Mission co-worker prayer cards tell where and how mission co-workers are making a difference in the world. When posted in congregations and homes, these cards can spark inspiration and engagement. They invite participation in God’s mission through prayers, email correspondence and financial gifts.

Email to request mission co-worker prayer cards. Please include your name and mailing address and indicate whether you want cards for specific mission co-workers or an entire set (more than 60).

Support God’s mission around the world by supporting mission co-workers:

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