Cards for a cause

By June 17, 2011

USA (MNN) — Who ever imagined that making greeting cards could become a method of impacting the lives of women coming from the horrific background of sexual slavery halfway across the world? Apparently, longtime friends Mollie Carnes and Renee TerBeek did.

Carnes and TerBeek of West Michigan have paired up with International Needs Network (INN) and to host card-making parties all over the West Michigan area, donating the proceeds toward freeing women from sexual slavery in Ghana.

The evil practice of Trokosi, or sexual shrine slavery, in Ghana has been going on for many years. With Trokosi, a family will hand over their daughter to the village priests to pay for their sins for fear of the priests' death curses. The girls live in slavery to pay for the offenses of others and are both sexually and physically abused by the priests.

International Needs Network has been fighting the Trokosi practice in Ghana since 1984 and has freed over 3,500 women and girls from this evil tradition. By negotiating with the priests and pointing out the evils of slavery, the practice has dwindled over the years. INN then teaches the freed women and girls how to earn a decent living at their training center. But there are still hundreds of girls left in sexual slavery in Ghana waiting to be set free.

Carnes first heard of INN through one of their local bases and was inspired to aid the plight of women in Ghana. She was an elementary teacher at the time and decided to put her creative flair to good use by making and selling cards in the teacher's lounge. The money she made from this was donated toward buying a new sewing machine for freed Ghanaian women trying to learn a new living.

"I just thought this is easy; it's easy to make a difference," said Carnes.

Soon, Carnes paired up with her friend, TerBeek, and the pair started hosting parties in churches, homes, and even a local jail. Carnes also conducts a card-making class twice a month. The goal of these parties is to raise both money and awareness, and each session begins by the attendees being informed about the plight of these women in sexual slavery in Ghana. The cards are then made using the batik fabric from the vocational training school for the freed Ghanaian women.

"We really feel like every woman can make a difference even if they don't have deep pockets," TerBeek said.

Also, Teri Van Hekken, senior vice president for I.N. Network USA, commented, "I think it's just incredible how God has raised up these women and they are providing the leadership to this program. It's exciting to see women here having a heart for women a world away."

Ministry doesn't always have to take place through travel. By being creative and having a heart for spreading the love of Christ, men and women are making a huge impact for the Kingdom of God wherever they are.

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