A photo of Ann Graber Hershberger sitting near a garden
MCC photo/Brenda Burkholder

Ann Graber-Hershberger, September 2020, MCC U.S., Akron, Pennsylvania.

“So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.

(Genesis 1:27, 31 NRSV)

A child, whether a boy or a girl, is a gift from God, declares Caroline Pugeni in a story in this issue. We all agree with these simple words, right? But I was shocked when I led women’s Bible studies in Nicaragua in the 1980s and learned that many women had never realized that Jesus repeatedly reached out to unnoticed women or that many women were co-laborers with him.

I realized then that I was privileged to have adoptive parents who fully valued me as a daughter, though that didn’t preclude different roles for my brother and me.

On our farm I was not allowed to plow or plant but could disk or bale hay. Though frustrated then, I now realize Dad’s response was related to skill, not assigned gender roles. I still can’t plant a straight row in the garden. Later, when I joined the pastoral team at church and started preaching, my parents were uneasy but supported me.

This issue is full of stories of how offering love, support, a safe place and believing in someone can empower women to meet their families’ needs, strengthen their communities, reach their dreams and do more than they ever thought possible.

Offering cups of tea and a safe haven, teaching farming and supplying technologies such as fuel-efficient stoves all contribute to women seeing themselves as made in the image of God and capable of being overcomers.

God saw all that was made and called it good. These stories affirm that goodness. And calling out this goodness is woven into what we do together. I think of Crystal Conklin saying, “Whenever we visit partners, we see their passion to transform Cambodia toward God’s biblical vision of shalom.”

This is what you are joining with us to do. Thanks be to God.

Ann Graber Hershberger

MCC U.S. Executive Director

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