Presidential Letter[b]Livija Godina[/b]Livija Godina 

Greetings from the Baptist family all around the world!

In the middle of summer in our hemisphere I had to go to the southern hemisphere – to Chile where it was the middle of winter.

Our continents are so different – the sun rises and sets on the other side, we have the longest days of the year now. It’s the middle of summer, but there in Chile it was winter. For us – the closer to the north, the colder it becomes, for there it’s the opposite – the closer to the south, the colder it gets. Everything was different there. That is in nature. But how is it with human beings? My first culture shock was stopped when I met people who hug and kiss each other when they greet each other. I forgot about winter time and cool weather when I was so warmly welcomed and hugged from the first moment.

In Chile I was attending the BWA Annual meeting from July 2-7 and a week before that gathering was the WD (Women’ s Department) Annual meeting led by our President Raquel Contreras who is from Chile and other officers – Patsy Davis and Donna Groover; also there participating were the 7 continental presidents. Much of the time in our meeting was taken up with strategic planning for the next 5 years, led by Sylvia DeLoach. Each continent gave their report for the past year. Each continent is different with different cultures and traditions, but we all have one goal – how to serve women and how to reach people around us for Jesus. During the last 5 years there have been many changes in the world, economically, politically and technologically; things have developed at a very fast pace. We have to learn to use these advances in the best possible way.

In the North American continent over the last four years many young women have become interested and have joined to women’s ministry using Facebook and Twitter. Linda Weber, president, shared how they have developed a network of Baptist women’s ministry leaders working in specific ministries that meet the needs of women and their families in the community. There are women who work with abused women, a group who reach out to victims of sexual exploitation and who work with girls at risk. NABWU Executive Board encourages and organizes training for working with refugees, prison ministry with prisoners and families of prisoners and how to help those who have been released from prison. NABWU in October 3-6, 2012 has their Assembly and have chosen the theme: “Thread”. Thread is a symbol of hope. It’s very presence indicates possibility – creation – mending - weaving together individuals and resources for the common purpose. The Theme verse, Exodus 39, 3:


“Gold leaf was hammered out and cut into thread to work into blue, purple, and crimson yarns and into the fine twisted linen, in skilled design” encompasses the common purpose, artistry, and strength of thread in the context of building the tabernacle.

From Asia Sook Jae Lee shared that Asia membership is made up of 19 countries and 35 member bodies. In the last five year term they have given more accent to Young Women in Leadership, they have organized several time conferences for young women to get them more involved in their local Women‘s Organization. Last year their conference had the theme “Transform a Life, Transform Asia” where there were 560 participants representing 16 different countries.

Motunrayo Adegbilero from Africa told stories – how women testified at their conference of a couple who gave birth to a beautiful baby girl after 17 years of waiting; a lady brought her handsome son to testify to a prayer answered after 25 years of waiting; another brought a set of lovely twin girls to the stage (born 3 week ago) after 14 years of waiting. Women in every Baptist Convention of Africa have been impacting their communities for Christ in various ways: reaching out to street kids, gathering resources for a children’ s home, giving assistance to abused women, helping women acquire reading and writing skills. She thanked Baptist sisters in Norway for their support to Sierra Leone in breaking the silence on Female Genital Mutilation and Domestic Violence. Her gratitude also to “Tools for self-Reliance UK” for funding the training of 100 women and youths. Motunrayo told that one of the problems is that many people in Nigeria now are afraid to come to church service on Sunday because of bombing of churches by Islamic fundamentalists. There is a lot of need in Africa. But women are serving and many women are already preparing for the 2015 BWA-WD Leadership Conference in South Africa. She said: We eagerly look forward to receive our sisters from the whole world. May God spare our lives beyond that time in Jesus name!

Our prayer partners, Latin-America, have their theme for five years: ”Children, our hope for Latin America”. President Marlene Baltazar reported that every two months, the Calendar of Prayer is prepared and sent to the leadership of all Latin American countries to be distributed among the churches. It is also on the website. They encourage women to pray for Europe. Their emphasis was the preparation of leaders for children. There is a project PEPE which provides care for children between 4 and 6. The Women’s Union holds annually a special campaign to collect gifts and donations to help keep the PEPE program in the country.

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In Chile nearby Santiago we visited a home for elderly people which is run by the Baptist women’s organization. Women support practically by giving voluntary help, giving money and different kind of products to help this home, where 17 women live and one of them is the Women’s Union’s leader from years ago.

Julie Belding from South West Pacific mentioned that SWP is part of the Asian Pacific Baptist Federation; therefore they have co-operation and some conferences which she has attended in Asia. To SWP belongs Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and West Papua, but there are absolute differences between them all. In the villages of Papua New Guinea the Women’s Union have organized several projects like sewing courses. The goal is to train rural women to be self-reliant and so reduce poverty. During the training courses other topics such as HIV, savings, and protection from domestic violence were also addressed.

The Caribbean Baptist Women’s Union is the youngest and is made up of a number of Islands of which approximately 14-16 have membership status and land mass. Due to the worsening economic situation in many islands of the Caribbean, plus the increase in abuse of women and children many women’s member bodies are endeavouring to assist women to improve their social and economic status. There are several projects: backyard gardening and pastry making; an agricultural project to help in alleviating the unemployment situation among women. This is an on-going project in which women are given piglets, chickens or goats to rear and when there is an increase, seventy-five % will be returned to the Federation for distribution to others sisters. There was another project to help women who were displaced because of the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, they are unemployed and they receive training. The Women’s Union help many in need.

In Europe we have similar needs. Some countries have started recently a project for improving women‘s ministry in the future. In Moldova they have a discipleship training project that started last year.

And now we have arrived in Europe.

Firstly, I would like to thank each one of you for your faithful ministry in your country each day – both on ordinary days and celebrations. Thank you for your hospitality when I visited your country. It has always been special to me – it’s a privilege and also a responsibility. When I get to know your ministry closer and the joys and struggles of it, I keep it in my heart and I keep you in my prayers and all the EBWU Committee pray for you. This spring I had the opportunity to be with brothers and sisters in Amman, Jordan where EBF Executive meeting took place. I met AWT (Arab Women Today) director Ruba Abbassi. It is a special ministry to the Muslim world. She shared many testimonies of how many, especially women, have come to God through their radio programs because that is their opportunity to hear about God. Another very touching place was the baptism place in the Jordan River which
is used by protestant and evangelical churches. Let’s pray that God’s peace and truth is a light in this difficult part of the world, also pray for Syria that is close by.

This year EBWU Committee met in Moscow, Russia and took part in a conference with sisters from Russia and CIS countries. I was enlightened by the sisters’ study and knowledge of the Scriptures. May they transform in everyday life and bring fruit and honor to the Lord. I’m especially happy for the sisters who came to Moscow from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and other countries. Let’s pray for sisters in this region who overcome many obstacles – poverty and religious restrictions – to sacrificially serve women and the community. Let’s pray for Kyrgyzstan that they could raise funds for enlarging their building and thus enlarge their ministry, also pray for protection of the leaders.

We celebrated the 20th anniversary of Moldovan women’s ministry. The women’s ministry there has a new leadership. We thank our sister Olga Mocan for 20 years of service and leadership of women’s ministry. And we are glad that a younger sister Eugenia Podoleanu is continuing the work. She has understood that it’s important to help new leaders grow, therefore discipleship seminars which help current sisters grow helpers and followers actively take place.

I thank God for the opportunity to visit Georgia with secretary Aniko Ujvari and learn about the diversity of their culture and ministry. I thank everyone for their hospitality. I still pray for you that His honour and love would multiply through your different ministries!

We all need spiritual restoration and restoration in women’s ministry. Let’s also keep the next five-year conference in Hannover, Germany in our prayers where a five year period will come to an end.

Let’s pray that God would invite and challenge new EBWU Committee leaders and give sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s guidance in ministry.

When I returned from my long distance travels to Chile where World Baptist leaders met, Europe didn’t seem very big at all. We are closer to each other and depend on each other more than we often think we do!

Remaining in prayer for you and wishing you God’s blessings this summer, yours – Livija Godina.

P.S. Thanks to News & Views team – Wies and her husband Jaap, and also Margaret.