Monday, January 30, 2012

Missionary Mary Zigbuo Remembers Generosity

The generosity of Ms. Gborr, left, was praised by
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, right. 
(photo courtesy of United Methodist Church of Liberia)

I REMEMBER….2004, looking out the window of a makeshift administration office at Ganta United Methodist Hospital where we served as General Board of Global Ministries missionaries in rural northeastern Liberia. My husband, Herbert, and I watched her walking from a distance.  

It was the year after the town of Ganta was devastated by civil unrest. People were slowly returning to rebuild their lives. The elderly lady was closer to the office now. Slow, intentional steps. She looked really poor. Her clothing was clean, but ragged. She wore slippers. Like so many who were returning after months of hiding in the “bush” from hostile rebel forces, she appeared thin…..malnourished.

She sat down on the bench near the office door. We continued to watch her and Herbert and I surmised, “Surely, she is one of the town’s residents seeking food or building supplies assistance from the hospital...” With the hospital’s funds and resources almost depleted, there was nothing to offer this woman in need. Herbert and I had recently joined the local United Methodist Church’s Gompa District-led community volunteer effort that was cleaning the trash out of the buildings and off the grounds. The need was just overwhelming, stressful, and pitiful!  

“My name is Yei Gborr,” she said in the local Mano language. “I thank you people for coming to work with us.” She reached in her ragged clothing and pulled out a wad of Liberian Dollars. One thousand Liberian dollars (equivalent to $20.00 US dollars) was hard to come by in those desperate days.

Ma Gborr placed the money on the desk and told us she was led by the Holy Spirit to give all she had to the revitalization of the hospital. This 82-year-old lady earned a living by selling sweet potato leaves (potato greens) in the local market. Surely, the Lord sent her our way that day! In the midst of chaos and hopelessness, her calm spirit inspired everyone. Today Ganta Mission’s services have grown and developed far beyond its pre-civil war status.

Our Lord can and does use people from all walks of life to fulfill this perfect plan. As we anticipate the coming of the Savior of the World, I reflect on Christ’s humble birth. From all outward appearances, Jesus was born into poverty. Yet, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we receive the richness of God's grace. Ma Gborr’s selfless act reminds me of Immanuel, God with us!

Today, I am humbled to continue my service as a missionary assigned to yet another United Methodist Church-led ministry that addresses poverty. Anson County Circles of Hope encourage a Christ-like model of building relationships across class and race lines. A Circle is made up of a family living on a low-income and two or more allies from the middle class. They meet once or twice monthly to work toward the family’s plan to move out of poverty. Weekly meetings bring the families and community volunteers and allies together through sharing a meal and engaging in discussions about poverty and developing community-driven plans to address poverty.

For more information on Anson County Circles of Hope, see Circles of Hope, Anson County. For more information on the General Board of Global Ministries’ efforts to address poverty, see Ministry With page.

United Methodist Missionary Mary Zigbuo worked at
Ganta United Methodist Hospital in Liberia
with her husband, Herbert Zigbuo, retired missionary.
Mary now serves in North Carolina creating Circles of Hope.
(photo courtesy of Global Ministries' communication)
After working in Liberia, Missionary Mary Zigbuo now works in Anson County, North Carolina, with people who are overcoming poverty. 

To learn more about her ministry, go to: Mary Zigbuo's biography.

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