Your Gifts in Action

 

Rising Angels

     Rising Angels’ mission is to bring sex trade education to professionals and the public, and to provide supportive services and safe environments to women exploited by the sex trade, allowing them to experience physical, mental, social and spiritual restoration in their lives. Katarina MacLeod, founder of Rising Angels is a survivor of exploitation, sexual abuse, drug addiction, kidnapping, physical abuse and domestic trafficking and was trapped in prostitution for over 15 years. She educates to bring awareness around this issue and has assisted various police services and NGOs across Ontario, Canada both as a valuable resource and in front line victim care. She continues to work with all types of girls and women who are at risk for trafficking or prostitution, or are attempting to leave the sex trade.    

    Thanks to the 2016 NABWU Day of Prayer grant they received, Rising Angels is holding hold two Survivor-Led Days of Specialized Training in How to Guide, Support, Coach & Mentor Sexually Exploited Women. As part of these training events, 3 survivors will share their life experiences as well as two police offers who will also share their knowledge. A 100 page training resources manual has also been developed for these and future training events.

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     Some of the grant funds are being used for a grocery gift card program, a very practical need for women recovering from sexual exploitation. Here is the story of “A”, one of program recipients: “A” is a young woman who was human trafficked here in Southern Ontario. Charges were brought against her trafficker and “A” courageously agreed to testify against him in court. Thankfully, the trafficker was found guilty and we are currently waiting to hear of his sentencing. (One aspect of this case that’s exciting is that it was part of a new initiative where a few ministries are collaborating to ensure that trafficking survivors who are testifying in court, will be accompanied by supporters. These supporters are there to enter the courthouse with her, sit in the court to encourage her, and can be available if she needs to talk about her concerns or situation at any time. This initiative was developed by Men Ending Trafficking (MET) and we are pleased to be part of this support system.) Subsequent to her trafficking situation, “A” lived in a residential facility for several months. She is now living on her own and has secured work, but it is at minimum wage. She is having real difficulties making ends meet, so being able to provide her with grocery gift cards makes a valuable and practical difference in her life. We have recently arranged government sponsored trauma counseling for “A”, and we hope that as she continues towards healing, she will eventually be able to find better paying work, and/or pursue training or education for more career options.

     Rising Angels ministry will be participating in NABWU's New Dreams conference in Toronto, October 19-22, 2017. 

 

Military Wives Retreat 2017

      Military Wives Retreat offers a free weekend of laughs, smiles, tears, food, fun, and more for a special group of ladies!  This ministry was the recipient of a 2016 NABWU Day of Prayer grant. Margaret Harding of WMU North Carolina, shares about some of the impact of this meaningful event: “Twenty-four military wives registered for our 2017 retreat.  In addition approximately 12 volunteers led in the retreat experiences.  The military wives came expecting to be refreshed and renewed in the Lord and that purpose was accomplished.  So many of these ladies have not had a break from their responsibilities at home in such a long time and the volunteers gave of their time by blessing them through Bible study, music and worship, crafts, pampering, wonderful snacks, swimming, skits, small group sharing and by providing them with special gifts donated by churches who asked how they could help with this retreat.   Thanks NABWU for supporting this ministry through your financial contributions!

     Let me share with you just a few of the comments made during the evaluation time at the end of the retreat:

     ‘This retreat was a wonderful way to refresh and renew!  I was able to take time to take care of myself with time away from the stress of everyday life, amazing fellowship with other military wives, prayer, reflection, pampering, and encouragement.  I loved the prayer time at the end when each volunteer prayed over us – such a holy time!’

     ‘I almost did not come due to this is a very difficult time of the year for me.  This is the anniversary of my husband’s first suicide attempt.  He was spiraling out of control and could not handle his PTSD, TBI, and life in general.   I remember that day like it was yesterday……this retreat has been such a blessing to me.  I know now that it was all our God that saved him!’

     ‘I'm so grateful to my husband for holding down the Homefront this weekend while I spent a few days being in Christian fellowship, learning from and getting to know some truly wonderful women at the WMU Military Wives Retreat. What a blessing!’

     ‘All the volunteers were so special to me and they made us feel so special.  What a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.  This was truly a spirit of service and gratitude, humility and joy.  Just enough activities and freedom to work at our own pace.  I loved the “laying on of hands” by the volunteers over each military wife.’

     From a volunteer at Military Wives Retreat. ... ‘What a wonderful weekend it has been with some special people at the WMU Military Wives' Retreat in Mundo Vista. Although I went for the purpose of ministering to the participants through crafts and music, I was renewed and refreshed myself by the sweet spirit there. May God bless these women and their families!’

In closing, all I can say is TO GOD BE THE GLORY!”

 

 

Graffiti 2 Community Ministries

     Graffiti 2 Community Ministries seeks to revitalize, revive, and revolutionize the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx by offering free of charge programming to children, youth, adults, and families in their community. Kerri Johnson, director of Graffiti 2 Works, shares how a grant from 2016 Day of Prayer gifts has been used for 2 ministry programs: G2 Interns for youth and Artisans group for adults.

     “When we applied for the grant last year our finances looked a little different than they did come January.  God knew exactly what he was doing when we received the check.  Of course, HIS timing is always best.  We split the money for expenses between G2 Interns and the artisans programs.  This allowed us a small cushion to keep everyone working.

     In G2 Interns, we have 9 interns between the ages of 16-24 who work 1-2 days a week depending on their availability.  We give them a stipend every 2 weeks for their time.  Their main responsibility is with the after school programs.  They help pick up elementary children from school, serve snacks, help with homework, lead games and one on one tutoring.  This program works two fold.  The interns have a place to be where they are creating a family.  The group is starting to hang out with each other not only at G2 but outside of work too.  They are investing in the lives of the younger children and teenagers in the neighborhood and the staff is investing in them. We feel this is a great way to help mentor these young adults and give them a sense of belonging.  The internships also look good on college applications and gives them a little money to help with any needs they may have.

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      The artisan group is the first micro enterprise we have started here at G2.  We are projecting a great year in sells with no time off waiting on orders.  One struggle we have is the rising minimum wage in NYC. Being a new business is hard enough but now trying to stay competitive with product pricing and the cost of payroll are challenging.  Right now, we have 4 artisans.  These 4 ladies are from our neighborhood.  All but one of them have children in our program and/or attend our church.  These ladies are gaining self-esteem and earning money to help support their families.  One of our favorite times are on Wednesday morning when we get to have a short bible study together.”  

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To see/purchase some of the sewn goods by the artisans, go to:  http://graffiti2ministries.org/product-category/g2works/

 

 

MI'KMAQ SONG BOOK - A WORK IN PROGRESS

     Mi’kmaq Hymns and Spiritual Songs, a 2016 NABWU Day of Prayer Project Grant, is at its beginning stages. Dianne Friesen, who comes alongside Mi’kmaq women in translation work at Eskasoni First Nation in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, sends along this report:

     There is currently a transcription of 3 dozen plus songs and prayers that are used in Eskasoni. Many other reserves would like to sing these songs but if there is no one that knows the songs at that reserve, they can’t. The object of what the Mi’kmaq women have been doing is to collect recordings, assemble the transcriptions, translate them, and make a booklet available so that others can learn and sing these songs, and current singers can better understand what they are singing. One of the challenges to translation is that most of the hymns are old and not all of the words are understood by all. Some words are very difficult and that is why the Mi’kmaq women will need to visit elders in Cape Breton and Restigouche, NB. One thing that is exciting to me is that some of the songs are actually Scripture put to music and in studying the passages we will be looking at the meaning of Scripture.

     There is currently a corpus of around thirty to forty songs (some of which are Scripture songs) and prayers. Most of these are written down and the spelling is checked (some also are in hieroglyphics). Only a couple have preliminary translations into English. The Mi’kmaq women have been collecting recordings of the songs from different people in the community and currently have approximately 20 recordings (with transcriptions).

     This year the Mi’kmaq women want to develop the corpus of recorded songs and prayers and produce a booklet of ten songs and prayers on a theme that is currently used but not yet available as a resource. The booklet will have the songs written in Mi’kmaq on one side of the page and in English on the other. There will be a CD with a recording of all the songs. They haven’t chosen the theme yet but they want it to be something that is in use so will be instantly helpful.

     Please keep the progression of this project in your prayers.

 

 

EXPENDABLE

     eXpendable, a musical about sex trafficking in North America, received a 2015 NABWU Day of Prayer grant. 

     Joanna Doak, artistic director of Chameleon Jo productions, sends along these words of gratitude: "Because of your prayers, encouragement, and financial support we were able to create eXpendable, mounting 13 performances in 5 cities and 3 provinces since the beginning of 2015. We are looking forward to more productions to continue to raise awareness. Thank you for your care for those who are vulnerable."

     This video features the challenging finale:

     Highlights of eXpendable will be performed at New Dreams: NABWU Assembly 2017 in Toronto, October 19-22.

 

 

BREAKING BARRIERS, BUILDING BRIDGES

Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges Cultural Exchange Program is a recipient of a 2015 NABWU Day of Prayer project grant. Virginia Holmstrom, executive director of American Baptist Women's Ministries shares about this intercultural, inter-generational ministry:

     A group of 8 American women journeyed in the Republic of Georgia on August 10-20, 2016, and were hosted by Georgian Baptists and Georgian Muslims.  We were accompanied by Georgians at all times, primarily young adult women. The companionship on the 18-passenger bus blossomed into friendships that continue today on Facebook.  Not only did friendships form between the American women and Georgian women; but the Georgian Muslim and Baptist women became acquainted with one another. Thus, our pilgrimage to Georgia helped to break barriers and build bridges between Georgian Muslims and Baptists in this small Orthodox Christian nation.

     One of our group members was an American Muslim woman. She taught us about her faith and prayer life. Together we shared stories about our families and common experiences. She was quite vocal in pointing out to the Muslim imams in Georgia of their “mistakes” when they led prayers.  In Georgia’s patriarchal culture, the male religious leaders quite naturally took offence at being critiqued by a woman. This illustrated a barrier that caused us all to reflect on the assertiveness of American women, and we had to remind ourselves that we were in a culture in which men assume leadership and authority, and women are followers.  At the same time, though, we determined to consciously encourage Georgian women to exercise their God-given abilities.  We met with high school female students from small villages and encouraged their dreams to go to university. We consciously identified the American travellers in our group who were clergy women in order to spark the realisation and imagination of Muslim women whose worship communities prohibit women from leading worship in the mosques.

    That leadership dynamic sharply contrasts with the Georgian Baptist community.  There are many women pastors in the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia. The Baptist congregations point out that women pastors have unique ministry gifts of compassion and counselling, and they lead worship with creativity.  Indeed, Baptist women clergy seem to rise to the top. Among the many Orthodox Christian bishops in Georgia, there is one female Bishop in all of Georgia, and she is a young Baptist clergy woman ordained by the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia:  Bishop Rusudan Gotsiridze.  Bishop Rusudan spent time with our group in Tbilisi and described her work to build bridges between Baptists and other faith communities in her country. The previous year, Rusudan had been summoned to the White House in Washington D.C. to receive an award by First Lady Michelle Obama for her re-conciliatory work in Georgia.  Strengthening interfaith relationships is urgently important for Georgia, which is bordered by Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Russia; and where religious minority groups are subject to religiously-motivated hate crimes.  (Baptists and Muslims are both minority groups in Georgia.)

     We were challenged to break barriers and build bridges among ourselves, between races and generations.  We ranged in age from early 40's to 81, our personalities sometimes clashed, we struggled to understand one another’s hurts and suffering.  Through worship times and debriefing sessions, we acknowledged our commonality as women of faith.

     Thank you for the gift of the NABWU Day of Prayer grant, which gave us the ability to include Georgian women—Baptists and Muslims--in our experiences in Georgia.

 

 

CROSSROADS FOR WOMEN

Crossroads for Women, a ministry of Columbia St. Baptist Church, Bangor, ME, is one of the recipients of a 2015 NABWU Day of Prayer project grant. Barbara Moody, project coordinator, shares how your giving has provided the resources necessary to implement this new project:

     Our “Girls’ Day Out” provided a resource and visioning day for women in the downtown Bangor church neighborhood. Crossroads for Women partnered with Food and Medicine, a nonprofit organization in Bangor that seeks to provide support to low income families.

     Activities included a resource fair of non-profit organizations serving the needs of women and children, financial workshops, arts activities, a church and ministries room, and locally grown food workshops.  Childcare and lunch were provided. Attendance figures include 40 women, 15 children, and 25 volunteers.

     One of the key ideas of this project was to build leadership skills in neighborhood women.  We invited four neighborhood women to be a part of our Advisory Committee and they participated in planning the event. Irene is a member of the Columbia Street Baptist Church and resides in the neighborhood. She was invited to join the Advisory Committee and accepted immediately. Although she has no car and walks everywhere, Irene was one of the most faithful members of the committee. Irene has had many physical, economic, and spiritual challenges but she maintains a positive attitude and never complains. She is a great example of someone who makes the best of her circumstances and humbly serves her Lord, her church and her community. 

Irene and Barbara

Irene and Barbara

     Another major goal was to get feedback from women in the neighborhood about their needs. We had index cards at each station and additionally volunteers did surveys with individual women at the event.

     Plans are being made to determine our next steps in meeting the physical, spiritual, emotional, and economic needs of women and children in the neighborhood. 

 

 

Bethlehem Aboriginal Fellowship Children’s Ministry

     The Bethlehem Aboriginal Fellowship Children’s Ministry is one of NABWU’s 2015 Day of Prayer Project Grant recipients. This weekly ministry is located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, a city which has the highest percentage of aboriginals of any other city in Canada.

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     Many aboriginal children in Winnipeg are living in poverty and many are either in foster care or in single-parent homes. The ministry coordinator is Rev. Jo-Ann Swenson and the ministry leaders are two mother-daughter teams. 

     Here is a story about 5 children from the same family who are part of the children’s ministry:

     “These children have come a long way since we started. They are starting to share, learning that there is time for things. They respect scheduling. They love the crafts that we use to teach them Bible stories. They are learning to pray for specific things and are learning to trust us and talk about their lives at school and at home.

     These children have many challenges in their lives, but we are seeing spiritual growth in them, that to some might seem like “less than baby steps” but for them it is HUGE. They are starting to remember things when we review what we have been learning.  We feel God’s grace is definitely with us as we minister to these little children in the inner city of Winnipeg. We are grateful for the opportunity.”

     Because of your giving to the 2015 Baptist Women’s Day of Prayer, NABWU has been able to support this meaningful ministry. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of these precious children.