By Melissa Wallace -
Toronto, ON – With decades of experience in helping Canadian Christian women of all ages to mature in their faith at their church and through conferences, retreats, mentoring, and online ministries, Margaret Gibb has personally witnessed God’s power at work in women who come together. And it is that call to mobilize women that has led to forming a new ministry called Women Together.
Maranatha News spent time with Margaret to find out more about this endeavour.
Margaret, why did you start this ministry?
Margaret Gibb: I started Women Together for two reasons. First, I received God’s call to serve women back in 1978. At the time, I thought it would just be for the local church and never any further than that. But every call that you receive expands as you move along in the process of development and serving. I became president for a ministry that mentors and equips women called Women Alive for 10 years. This led to my second reason which was that I became very aware of the vast resources among women in Canada; the professionals who were nurses, teachers, dental hygienists, nutritionists, and lawyers. I had been to Africa a few times and I realized that women in Canada could have a great impact there with their encouragement, skills, tools, leadership training and help to empower, equip, and encourage women in developing countries. The decision to start Women Together didn’t happen overnight. There was this awareness that gave me eyes to see beyond our country and the calling evolved.
What does this ministry aim to do?
MG: The primary goal of this ministry is mobilize Canadian women to serve women in developing countries. Women helping women to help themselves. In August, I’ll be taking a team of nine with two nurses to Uganda. We will be doing medical camps and the nurses will be doing some training, testing for HIV/AIDS, going to clinics, and teaching at the schools. Then we’re going to do several conferences for teen girls and women as well as talking to them and getting to know them and their needs. We will invest ourselves in women overseas with skills development, training, advice, and friendship. And there is definitely a Bible component. All our leadership training and messages are Bible-based.
Are men welcome to go on these trips?
MG: I’ve had men ask if they could come, but this is a women’s ministry for a purpose. Women hear differently when they’re with women. They speak a language that women understand. I think that much can happen when women help women. There’s a unity of heart and spirit and that’s what Women Together is all about. We’re going to create this global community of Christian women around the world who share one heart and that is a love for God and a love for Jesus as we try and help each other.
What age group are you targeting for this ministry?
MG: In Canada, the age groups I like to work with are 40 and older. I’m looking for experience in the fields they represent; seasoned women. But I’m also determined to take one or two that are younger for the purpose of mentoring if they have a heart for missions.
How many staff do you have?
MG: None so far as the ministry began in October and is only eight months old. There is a lot of work I have to do as founder and director of Women Together and I’ll be doing some fundraising and meeting with 10 key women this week to brainstorm ideas of what we’ll do in Canada and internationally. So we’re not quite ready to hire yet, but we will.
What challenges do you foresee with this ministry?
MG:One of the challenges is that I’m walking into the unknown. It’s like getting married, you don’t know what you’re going to face. But I think the greatest challenge will be to ensure teams are flexible in their attitudes. We have to be flexible with their interpretation of time and their culture. We’re not there to change them, but to empower them. We want to befriend them and hear them. If we come with the attitude that we know and they don’t, we won’t do well. We have to come with a servant heart and humility to say, “Can you talk to us about what you have faced in life?” Then what happens on these trips is that you appreciate the fact of where you live and you also want to help and embrace others. It’s not always money. It’s equipping and empowering through training, friendship and prayer.
Tell me about an overseas experience that profoundly affected you.
MG: The first time I was in Africa, we were at a community meeting with all kinds of community workers and the question was asked, “How many of you have lost family members to HIV? How many of you have lost one?” And out of 30 people that were there, every hand went up. “How many of you have lost two?” Every hand stayed up. “How many of you have lost three?” Every hand stayed up. It started dropping after about six. The reality for me was that when we have one loss in a year, that’s big for us. But then you think about some of these women who have had four and five losses in a year and also have to deal with poverty. How do they cope without social insurance and an old age pension? How do they live out Jesus in all those losses and where do they get their strength from? We haven’t had losses like they have had. So again the challenge for us is, “Can we just be still enough to listen to them?”
What do you hope for the women who get involved with this ministry?
MG: I would want for Canadian women to not only contribute, but be transformed, and to do it together.
Read Margaret Gibb’s blog post with Maranatha News entitled, Say “Yes!” to The Promises! every second Wednesday of the month, to view
(Photos provided by: Margaret Gibb)