TALLADEGA, Ala. (BP) — When Margaret Roland talks about the life-changing impact of Christian Women’s Job Corps, she speaks from personal experience.
Roland, a CWJC site coordinator in Florence, Ala., previously was a CWJC participant seeking to gain practical skills to better equip her for life.
She was among more than 130 women and men who gathered for training and fellowship at the Aug. 1-3 Christian Women’s Job Corps/Christian Men’s Job Corps National Meeting hosted by national WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union) at Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center in Talladega, Ala.
“I grew up in poverty,” Roland reflected candidly. “By the time I was 13, my mother kicked me out of the house. That opened up the door to drugs and homelessness…. At the same time, I still was able to graduate from high school.”
Although she made a profession of faith in Christ at age 16, she said she didn’t understand the need to change her lifestyle to match her newfound faith. By age 19, she was pregnant and single with little hope for a stable or successful future.
Asking God to give her a reason to quit using drugs, Roland said her pregnancy became that motivation. “God was like, ‘OK, here’s your reason to stop.’ That’s when I quit doing the drugs. I wanted to be a better mother for my child than what I had growing up.”
At the same time, Roland said she began visiting area churches “searching for God more on a deeper level.” That led to a church member introducing her to Christian Women’s Job Corps.
Going through the program twice at the CWJC site in Guntersville, Ala., Roland acknowledged that she still struggled at times. She eventually moved to Florence, got a job at an area hospital and discovered that through her CWJC classes, mentoring and Bible studies, she had “gained the tools that I needed to succeed.”
Working at the hospital as a phlebotomist for five years, “I was able to save up enough money to work on my credit to be able to buy a home,” Roland recounted. “Once I was able to sign the contract on my home is when I decided that I wanted to help other women overcome the same obstacles that I have. That’s when God started putting Christian Women’s Job Corps on my heart. That was in 2016 and now we are going into our second year of classes.”
One of the primary goals of Christian Women’s Job Corps and Christian Men’s Job Corps is to “equip men and women for life and employment,” said Lena Plunk, WMU’s ministries consultant for mobilization and national CWJC/CMJC coordinator.
“When a CWJC/CMJC participant graduates from the program and gives back to the community, it is evidence of the impact the ministry has had in his or her life,” Plunk said. “They are able to use what was once seen as a weakness in their life as a strength to empower others.”
Roland is “a picture of the continual cycle of change that can happen in the lives of those this ministry serves,” Plunk said.
“Her life has been changed and she now wants to share that change with others in hopes that their lives are also transformed through Christ,” Plunk said. “This is a pattern that has the potential of being ongoing and reaching the lives of many other people for years to come.”
For Roland, one of the most inspiring aspects of Christian Women’s Job Corps “is seeing what all gets poured into this ministry from the volunteers, the instructors, the mentors, the site coordinator — the work, the tears, the prayers — all of that has impacted me on another level. Having someone believe in me and not giving up on me as a participant has got me to where I am. It has strengthened my relationship with Jesus and just being able to be more successful.”
Readily admitting that “I feel like I’m not qualified to be in this role,” she added, “The more I feel that way, the more I see that God does not always call the qualified. Seeing that I can relate to the participants on a whole different level has given me the ability to keep going.”
As a site coordinator, Roland enlists church and community leaders to provide such resources as Bible study, mentoring, job readiness and computer skills to benefit participants in the program.
Encouraging other individuals and churches to consider hosting Christian Women’s Job Corps or Christian Men’s Job Corps ministries, Roland said, “If your heart is in helping others, this is a ministry to get plugged into.”
It’s simply a matter of being available “to get out there and give a hand up to someone in need” — just as someone did for her.
For more information about Christian Women’s Job Corps and Christian Men’s Job Corps, visit www.wmu.com/jobcorps or contact Lena Plunk at [email protected]