African women meet to launch ministry Alliance sees 'spiritual need' in U.S.

June 09, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

As members of the Pan Africa Christian Women Alliance filed out of the conference room at Western Maryland College, Mary O. Nasibi sang softly to them.

"Almighty God, all nations shall praise thy name," she chanted repeatedly.

Nearly 200 women, most in the colorful native dress of their African homelands, walked past Ms. Nasibi, who was seated near the entrance to Decker Center on the Westminster campus.

Several women smiled at her prayerful greeting. Some joined her in the chant. Although many came from non-English-speaking nations, they seemed to recognize the universality of her sentiment.

"What a marvelous, beautiful experience to see people from different countries talking about the same Christ," said Comfort Janfa of Nigeria.

Like most participants, Ms. Janfa, the principal of a school for midwives in the West African country, had traveled thousands of miles to attend the first PACWA conference on leadership in the United States. The four-day event last week launched the evangelical movement in this country.

"Ours is a ministry for Christian women," said Aba Arthur, a native of Ghana who lives in Colorado. "We want to see women fed with what they need to know to become leaders in ministry and community."

The conference marked the beginning of the evangelical movement's mission to the United States, Ms. Aba said.

Judy W. Mbugua, PACWA continental coordinator in Kenya, called all members missionaries. "Wherever you go and preach the gospel, you are a missionary," she said.

PACWA, founded four years ago in Nairobi, Kenya, asserts the dignity and potential of women, and unites them in service to God. Its founders provide spiritual and practical guidance for women, whom they call the mothers of society.

The organization's nearly 3,000 members targeted the United States for the conference, Ms. Mbugua said.

"We wanted to see God become real in the lives of the people here," she said. "We want to give them their zeal back. Some have become lost."

Ms. Nasibi, who calls herself a missionary in the American classroom, finds "a tremendous spiritual need in America."

"I feel sorry for African-American kids," she said. "There is a spiritual and cultural poverty. They have no sense of who they are."

Reared in Baltimore, Ms. Nasibi joined the Peace Corps and worked in Africa for 12 years. She now teaches elementary school in Washington, D.C., but plans to return to Africa soon.

Her recent visit to Baltimore only increased her resolve to make Africa her permanent home.

"Africans welcome us like a lost child coming home," she said. "They know their history well, and they offer a sense of community."

Third World countries traditionally have been mission fields, not mission leaders, said Tokunboh Adeyemo, one of the founders of the movement and the keynote speaker at the conference.

"It is almost unthinkable that any movement of international repute can spring from the Third World," he said in his greeting. "This event is saying that God is no respecter of persons, place and period."

Arnette Taylor of Liberia served as conference coordinator and encouraged participants to be moral and spiritual leaders in their communities. "Continue to wear the mantle of leadership God has placed on you," she said.

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