Nine members and friends of Madison Square Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., spent two weeks traveling in West Africa. Everyone in the group had African American heritage and a desire to connect with the work of churches and missionaries in Ghana and Liberia.
Madison Square church group visits Kakum National Park in Ghana.
These countries are symbolic of the relationship between the African continent and the Americas. Ghana was one of the major exit points for slaves on their trans-Atlantic journey. Liberia served as a re-entry point for freed African slaves.
The group spent time working at Providence Baptist Church in Monrovia, Liberia, where former Madison Square pastor and Liberia native Samuel Reeves now serves.
Edmond Johnson, minister of music at Providence, said, “We are excited to link the strengths of African Americans to the beauty and resources of Africa.”
The group also connected with Renita Reed, whose micro-financing work with Partners Worldwide in Ghana has been supported by Madison Square for many years.
Laura Carpenter, director of diversity and worship at Madison Square, hopes this is the first of many groups of African Americans who will travel to Africa to see themselves as global citizens, missionaries, and business leaders.
Carpenter said, “[We need to move] our people from stereotypically being the receivers to being the missionaries, the evangelists, the givers. That takes a change of mind, a realigning of our identity.”
Janell Carruthers, a member at Madison Square, said, “I went to incorporate part of me that I’d find in Africa into who I am today.” She hopes to continue to support the communities she visited by supplying medical needs and donating extra materials. Reflecting on her time in Africa, she said “You really don’t know and can’t anticipate when you will rekindle your relationship with God.
Beverly Weathersby, who went along on the trip, said she always dreamed of traveling to Europe on vacation, but when people in Africa said, “Welcome home,” she was moved. She said, “I never thought of going to Africa, but I should have done this a long time ago.”