McCrossen among 16 ABC women to tour African mission work - Word&Way

McCrossen among 16 ABC women to tour African mission work

At 80-plus years old, Dorothy McCrossen of Overland Park, Kan., believes visiting missionaries and sharing their stories is her calling for as long as she is able.

A health worker in a South African village cares for a resident. (Dorothy McCrossen photo)

McCrossen has made four Mission Encounter trips with American Baptist women from across the United States — the most recent to South Africa and the Congo earlier this year.

The trips "bring us back with the ability to share what's happening…to be able to share what our missionaries are able to do with so little," McCrossen explained. "My mission is to tell others about what projects they can do…and to encourage young people to consider becoming missionaries."

She was among 16 women — and one of the “Golden Girls,” four participants over 80 years old — to make the nearly three-week trip April 21-May 6. American Baptist Women’s Ministries, the women’s division of American Baptists USA, organizes a trip each year, alternating between overseas and stateside work.

The women spent the first half of the trip in South Africa, primarily in Zululand, where they visited a center for children of parents who died of AIDS. Most of the children served live with a grandmother. The center provides medical services, clothing and other necessities.

Mission trip participants followed a physician on his rounds to small villages. Local health workers in each village are trained to meet needs, including treatment and education about diabetes, HIV, hypertension and other issues.

The Americans had taken goodie bags containing toys and treats, and took medicine for the workers to use. After playing with the children in each village, the women distributed the bags.

“It was exciting to see how people were responding to that,” McCrossen said.

Although she learned a great deal throughout the trip, she was most touched by what she saw in the Congo. Missionaries had set up centers to help local women escape prostitution. But when rebel forces took control of the government in the 1990s, they destroyed the centers.

“It made me so sad. It was heartbreaking to see what the rebels can do,” she said. “It is such a poverty-stricken area."

Missionaries are still trying to meet Congolese women’s needs. Literacy programs for women have been started, reaching women and girls from 10 to over 80 years old. They are also training women who can read to teach others.

The U.S. Baptists visited and worshipped at several churches, as well.

McCrossen said she appreciates the trips because they allow women a firsthand look at the work that is being done, and they provide the opportunity to share ideas with one another, with those on the field, and with churches and individuals back home.

“It’s important to make friends across the world,” she said. “The trip opens up a whole world of missions. We have to do more than just talk about it, but we must make a difference…before we can tell others about Jesus Christ.

She has accompanied American Baptist women to India and Nepal; Eastern Europe, including the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Georgia; and Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The next international trip will be to Thailand in 2013.

An added benefit to the trip is making new stateside friends. “We celebrate that we are Christian women together,” she said.

A member of Prairie Baptist Church, McCrossen takes every opportunity to share her experience with members and other churches. Not only does she talk about missions, she also practices it. She serves as a tutor for international students.

Women interested in finding out more may call the women’s ministry division at 1-800-ABC-3USA, ext. 2288.