One of the Continental Unions of the Baptist World Alliance Women is the Baptist Women’s Union of Africa. This group includes 40 African countries, and it focuses on working toward “peace, reconciliation, justice and development through prayer, witness and service.”
Marthe Nguime Ekollo, past president of BWUA, noted that her goals for BWUA during her term of service were:
- To increase the membership of BWUA. Three new members and many dormant ones have joined the CU.
- To break the language barriers. BWUA was mostly using English. To address the frustrations of the other communities, BWUA selected women who speak French and English for translation during the conferences.
- To prepare and equip the young generation to take the baton. Uptick Global, a U.S. nongovernmental organization that equips young women in cross-cultural ministry, developed a partnership with BWUA that allowed them to take part in the Uptick training.
“I am thankful to God as He has accomplished the above goals,” Ekollo said.
Jane Immaculate Mwangi, the current president, is working on the goals she has for the next five years. She already knows that they will include the strengthening and growth of the fellowship as well as more training for women.
Challenges for women in this area of the world are many.
Education overall has greatly improved. However, there are still many children who have poverty issues that cause them to drop out of school. Girls may marry early.
Though women are now often getting the same education as men, it’s common for women to not get the same positions or advancement in their careers, leading to financial pressure while navigating careers and motherhood.
According to Ekollo, they also deal with a lack of respect, unfair treatment and discrimination in their communities, and this region has a big problem with all forms of violence.
However, the women of BWUA aren’t overwhelmed with the prospect of confronting these issues.
Ekollo served with these women for five years and has confidence in their combined strength.
“The slogan ‘co-laborers with God’ and the use of three working languages — English, French and Portuguese — demonstrate our togetherness and unity to promote closer fellowship, deeper friendship and sisterhood,” she said.
Ekollo loved those five years of BWUA service, but they weren’t all smooth sailing.
“My favorite part is to be involved in this amazing journey as Baptist women of Africa are connected with their sisters globally to create shalom and to impact the world for Christ. The least favorite part has been missing meetings because I was not granted the entry visa to the host country,” she said.
Value of experience
As Mwangi leads during the next five years, she wants to impart her past experiences to others.
She first felt God’s call in Sunday School and the youth program. Her first leadership role was starting a ministry called Soul Builders, which consisted of weekend challenges in schools and universities.
She recognized at that point that she needed more education, so she went back to school.
Then God led her to working with women.
“I am what I am because a lady somewhere mentored me and shared the love of Christ to me as a young mother. She introduced to me the women’s ministry,” Mwangi shared.
“When I see a young woman confessing Jesus Christ or when I convince a woman to go back to school,” Mwangi said she knows she’s in the right place.
Prayer needs for BWUA are:
- For the new BWUA leadership.
- For the global economic issues that have hit Africa.
- That political leaders, churches and NGOs stand against gender-based violence.
- For peace around the world.
- For women to know the importance of giving and being present.
To find out more about BWUA, go to bwawomen.org and find this region in “Continental Unions” under the “About Us” tab.