It All Started with a Sign-Up Sheet!
The professor’s voice was unusually strong as he made his announcement: “It is compulsory for every student of this college to be an active part of a missions prayer group.” As he proceeded to name several countries, I was feeling uncomfortable. “And finally, Africa!” he said emphatically! “Please be sure to sign your name on the sign-up sheets in the main building today.”
I suddenly felt weak with a rush of nervous tension racing through my body. I whispered audibly:
No God, not Africa.”
My girlfriend seated beside me heard my verbal response and whispered, “Are you okay?”
No!”, I curtly replied.
I thought back to the day I fully surrendered to the call of God on my life. It was a marked experience of brokenness, tears, and yielding. I promised God that I would serve Him the best I could in ministry. I would be a Pastor’s wife and contribute to whatever church God called us to. I had only one condition:
God, never, ever ask me to go to Africa!”
Perhaps terrifying stories I had heard of the “Dark Continent” from missionaries and their often terrifying experiences that made me draw erroneous conclusions and a line in my commitment to God.
Yet strangely it was Africa that appealed to me that morning when the announcement was made. I concluded that just because I would pray for Africa did not mean that God would send me there! So I wrote my name on the sign-up sheet to join the Africa Missions Prayer Group.
For the next three years, a group of young college students met to pray for Africa every week. In our praying experience, we journeyed together and saw with different eyes, a people Jesus died for and a continent that needed God! And my heart changed!
No, a door did not open immediately. Yet, those incredible prayer times planted a seed. It would take many more years for the seed to take root and produce a clearer call. The fullness of God’s call does not unveil but unfolds.
Signing my name on an Africa Prayer Group sign-up sheet and having a heart change would lead somewhere.
In 2003, I received an invitation from World Vision to join a clergy delegation to go to Africa and witness first-hand the devastating effect of HIV-Aids on women and children. Now, a leader of a national women’s organization in Canada, I would see, hear, and begin to understand how women on the other side of the world lived and what they coped with.
My heart broke into pieces as the team and I visited with single moms who were sick, in need of medication and living without hope. We sat on mats and listened to the frightening stories of young teenagers, who were now forced to take on a parental role. Grandmothers told us stories of burying their adult children and having to raise their grandchildren when they themselves needed care.
For 10 days I was in the presence of hurting people and I changed! Africa no longer frightened me. It called me.
I came back to Canada knowing that one day, God would open a door for me to embrace not only Africa but the women of the world. Women Together was born out of this passion.
Margaret Gibb, Founder & Executive Director of Women Together