Ackers facilitate opportunities for ministry in Africa

Shelah Acker, right, has ministered to women Senegal. CBF photo

By Patricia Heys, CBF Communications
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
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ATLANTA – The Bible study at the women’s prison in Rufisque, Senegal, was translated into four languages. The women, representing six ethnicities, were all far from home and alone. Most had been arrested for drug possession or illegal prostitution, and many were victims of human trafficking.

When Shelah Acker entered the women’s prison, Luli did not leave her side. Luli, a native of South Africa, was so excited to find someone else who spoke English, she immediately requested an English Bible.

“Often the women’s families do not even know where they are,” said Shelah Acker, who serves with her husband, Jade, as one of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s field personnel. “The women tell us that they feel forgotten and very alone. I felt so grateful to have the opportunity to share with them that they are precious and loved by God.” 

The women’s prison is one ministry in which the Ackers were involved in West Africa, a region of 15 countries and more than 1,000 ethnicities. They lived in the port city of Dakar, Senegal and coordinated ministry opportunities among churches, CBF field personnel and Fellowship partners. Later this year, the Ackers, of Alabaster, Ala, will relocated to Uganda, where they will be involved in similar ministries.

“However small we sometimes feel, we have a responsibility as Christians to be citizens of the kingdom,” Shelah said. “As churches discover where God is calling them, we want to help facilitate how we can all work together and make an impact. We should all be asking ourselves ‘What is God calling me to do?’ and ‘How can I be the presence of Christ in the world?’”

The needs in Africa can seem overwhelming – human trafficking, child soldiers, street children, poverty, refugees. But the Ackers have identified partners and resources focused on offering Christ’s love to the people of the region.

In Liberia, a country recovering from 14 years of civil war, the Ackers have helped train teachers at the Rick’s Institute, a Baptist school founded in 1887. While the country was embattled by violence, many Liberian children did not attend school and some were recruited as soldiers. The Rick’s Institute, with kindergarten to 12th grade, provides a free education to their primary school students.

“God has a heart for all the nations,” said Jade. “God calls churches to become involved in righting injustices and to join together to meet physical and spiritual needs.”

To learn about partnership opportunities with the Ackers in Africa, call (800) 352-8741.

CBF is a fellowship of Baptist Christians and churches who share a passion for the Great Commission and a commitment to Baptist principles of faith and practice. The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.

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