Our Story is a beautiful and special one to us. We have seen God move in incredible ways! We’d love if you would join into our story by reading and connecting with us on our Contact page!
Where He Began:
The Who & Why of WOW
What began in February 2011 as just three women at a coffee shop with hopes and dreams has grown into WOW – Women for Oppressed Women. Pictured here is WOW’s volunteer board. The group also is fortunate to have hundreds of special supporters known as the Friends of WOW.
In Chaimite and Koka Misava, two villages in the middle of Mozambique on the continent of Africa, women work tirelessly to care for their children, their homes and one another. God laid this country and her citizens on the hearts of The Chapel in Akron, Green and Wadsworth, Ohio; and the church began a mission to care for both the physical and spiritual needs of these precious souls.
In an effort to help the villagers, Chapel member Julie Davis desired to train the women to knit handbags from hemp. The goal was to bring a sustainable business to the villages – one that depended little on foreign aid for supplies or purchases. Julie shared her vision with another Chapel member and knitting enthusiast, Kathie Brown. Kathie soon designed a pattern for the bag, trained knitters from The Chapel on how to train women in Mozambique, and sold the handbags here in the United States. The project was an excellent introduction for these women to micro-enterprise, and the villagers’ hard work soon resulted in a profit of about $7000! However, there were even greater needs – and therefore, greater business opportunities – in sustainable farming.
In February 2011, Kathie approached two friends, Linda Thompson and Linda Maynard, whom she had trained and advised before their mission to Mozambique – and asked if they would join her in a new idea. Kathie wanted to throw a gala purse party in order to help the Mozambicans launch a new microenterprise in their villages. The two Lindas responded enthusiastically, albeit it naively, “Count us in! What’s a purse party?”
Over the next five months, Kathie, Linda and Linda not only found their own definition of a purse party, but they found a small group of like-minded friends to join them in the effort. That group soon took on a name: WOW – Women for Oppressed Women.
Where He Has Led:
Burdened by the needs and emboldened by the opportunities for women in Mozambique, WOW began dreaming and planning for our first-ever Very Special Purse Party. We’d barely begun to explore what a purse party even was, when we discovered the cost of an agricultural microenterprise -- $60,000! We were a brand new organization of just a handful of women! How could we possibly plan an event of that magnitude? The odds truly seemed against us, until we considered the odds our brothers and sisters in Africa face every day.
The Mozambicans were overcoming rough conditions of poverty, disease, centuries of oppression by foreign countries and decades of civil war. These strife-filled years had destroyed the country’s infrastructure, leaving few viable job opportunities for Mozambicans close to home.
Mindful of our friends’ sufferings, WOW purposed to work hard for a season in order to help those in Mozambique rise from a lifetime of hard. On October 15, 2011, after five months of praying, dreaming, planning and working, WOW hosted its first-ever Very Special Purse Party. Guy’s Party Center blossomed as a beautiful venue for a glorious event! And by the grace of God, $60,000 was raised for an agricultural microenterprise!
God gave life and livelihood to the people of Mozambique! The harvest was plentiful! WOW was overwhelmed! But God was not even done! While WOW was envisioning one microenterprise, God was developing two! WOW was introduced to an excellent seamstress in Chaimite, and the funds raised from the Very Special Purse Party covered the start-up of a sewing business, too!
Very quickly, with just a few months’ instruction, the women of Mozambique produced school uniforms for the children of their village. Their success, coupled with the great tomato harvest and the news that many Mozambicans were growing in their relationships with Jesus Christ, was such glorious answer to prayer!
But with joy also came news of sorrow. WOW became aware of another village very close to Chaimite that had no clean water. And the village was in great need. WOW heard the call to provide for these needs, and we appealed to our generous friends to help us present the Very Special Purse Party II. Guy’s Party Center opened its elegant doors to us again… And friends from the young, young at heart, and all heart sizes in between came in force offer their support to the oppressed in Mozambique and right in our own backyard. Thanks to the creative talents of WOW’s dearest friends, the Very Special Purse Party II offered many new features, including WOW totebags that not only supported women in Africa and the United States, but also the women in India who made them. By the end of the evening, WOW was overwhelmed again by the deep hearts and deep pockets of our friends. The Very Special Purse Party II raised enough funds to underwrite a SECOND FULL AGRICULTURAL MICROENTERPRISE IN MOZAMBIQUE!
Moreover, four Greater Akron ministries – ICU Pregnancy Services, Rahab Ministries, TRY Ministries and Urban Vision -- also became recipients of purse party donations. WOW is grateful to our friends for their generosity and support and to our Almighty God for superintending over every detail and stirring our hearts for this mission!
Soli Deo Gloria
Where He is Leading:
In just three short years, God has led WOW – Women for Oppressed Women from a dream of a purse party shared by three women, to a network of 12 board members and hundreds of friends with one heart: giving life and livelihood to the poor and oppressed around the globe.
We have watched God move in our midst to establish agricultural and sewing microenterprises in Mozambique, to raise the funds for a second agriculture field and to support ministries to the oppressed in India and in our own backyard of Greater Akron.
As WOW looks ahead, we are excitedly planning for the Very Special Purse Party III (see our “Events” page for more details) on November 7, 2014 – this time with a focus on ministries to Northeast Ohioans, but always being mindful of our friends in Mozambique and other developing countries. We look forward to reviewing local grant applications (see the box on our home page), which we are sure will inspire us with stories of the humble servants who want to share God’s glory with those in need. And we know that God will surprise us with new ideas and initiatives as we look to Him for guidance.
WOW praises God for His graciousness, and we listen intently for His direction. He tells us in Isaiah 30:21,
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ ”
Armed with our faith in God, our obedience to His call, our mission to serve and our hearts for the poor and oppressed around the globe, we fix our eyes on Jesus, waiting to see what God has on the horizon.
“Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives, as well. – 1 Thessalonians 2:8”