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Job corps’ 10th anniv. celebrated by WMU

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BP)–In 10 years, the Christian Women’s Job Corps has grown to 192 training sites, added a men’s program and, in 2006 alone, assisted more than 2,100 individuals through the efforts of 15,000 volunteers.

CWJC’s 10th anniversary was a key component of this fall’s “Live the Joy of Missions” conference sponsored by Woman’s Missionary Union and attended by more than 825 women from 35 states and Puerto Rico.

WMU’s Christian Women’s Job Corps/Christian Men’s Job Corps ministry seeks to equip women and men for life and employment through Christ-centered, holistic training.

Symbolizing the lives changed by CWJC is Gabrielle Harbin of New Market, Ala., who received the Sybil Bentley Dove Award honoring a current or former participant who has advanced herself through life skills, academic development and faith in God. Harbin, a December 2006 graduate of CWJC of Madison County, Inc. (Ala.), also received a grant that accompanies the award to assist her in her educational and career goals.

Since completing the WMU-sponsored job corps program last year, Harbin has earned an associate’s degree in business management from American Intercontinental University and begun work on a bachelor’s degree in visual communication, with the goal of starting her own magazine and writing encouraging and empowering articles for women. Harbin teaches fourth-grade girls Sunday School at The Rock Family Worship Center in Huntsville.

“This award is given to a woman who embodies the spirit and hope of Christian Women’s Job Corps,” said Jean Cullen, WMU ministry consultant and coordinator of CWJC and the Christian Men’s Job Corps. “Gabrielle is a testimony to this. Her courage and perseverance to become who God has called her to be is an example to every woman.”

Symbolizing the volunteers, two CWJC sites were honored: Beauregard CWJC in Louisiana and CWJC of Raleigh Baptist Association in North Carolina.

Each site will receive a $750 grant to strengthen their ministries from the Christian Women’s Job Corps/Christian Men’s Job Corps Site Award Endowment managed by the WMU Foundation.

Mary Koehn, site coordinator for Beauregard CWJC, said the grant will be used to upgrade its computer lab. Pat Bryan, site coordinator of CWJC of Raleigh, said the funding will be designated for training of mentors and for Bibles, Bible study materials and other resources for participants.

Joy of Missions participants were the hands and feet of Christ as they tackled some 20 different mission projects in the greater Little Rock area during one afternoon of the four-day gathering.

Avenues for service included prayerwalking downtown North Little Rock, apartment complexes, fire and police stations and the state capitol; surveying unchurched areas; visiting nursing homes to give manicures and pray with residents; reading to elementary school children; and helping out in area ministries such as the Ronald McDonald House and The Rice Depot, a food bank ministry that serves the state of Arkansas.

During that evening’s session, Emil Turner, executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, told the women, “Thank you for your impact on central Arkansas today. … You have touched lives. You have changed eternities. … Because of you, less people will go to hell and more people will go to heaven.”

“Thank you for loving our city,” said Kaye Miller, president of WMU and member of the host church, Immanuel Baptist, at the conclusion of the conference. “Missions isn’t an option. The Great Commission is a mandate. We pray that as you leave here you will go back to your place of service — your mission fields — and love your neighbor.”

About 100 topics were covered during nine workshop times throughout the conference, with some led in Spanish and Korean. Additional features of the Oct. 17-20 sessions included a WorldCrafts Village bookstore; the second annual WMU golf tournament; and the presentation of a prayer quilt by Native American WMU members from Oklahoma. The quilt will be displayed in the Native American room at WMU’s headquarters in Birmingham, Ala.

Geoff Hammond, president of the North American Mission Board, speaking on the urgency of prayer, said, “God chooses impossible situations to demonstrate His power through the prayers of His people.”

Reaching the 300 million people in the United States for Christ is one of those situations that seems daunting, Hammond said, citing the nation’s population growth, its expanding ethnic diversity and a climate that, religiously, is increasingly pluralistic.

“There are 500 people groups represented in New York City alone,” he said. “Southern Baptists are reaching about 35 of those groups.”

Hammond asked whether “God [will] allow us to reach the world, but not minister to our own neighbor. No. North America desperately needs a group of powerful pray-ers to pray for our nation. We must undergird our work with devout prayer and align ourselves with the principles of God to reach North America.

“I’m praying for a spiritual awakening and church planting movement,” he said, noting, “If God did it in China, He can do it here.”

Hammond told the WMU audience, “Nobody knows how to love and pray like godly women. I pray you will leave this meeting praying more.”

He also thanked WMU for helping raise funds in 2007 for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions — a record $58 million — and for “all you do to support missions around the world and here in North America.”

Montira Siengsukon, a native of Thailand and NAMB language missionary in Kansas City, addressed the need to love one’s neighbors, including those of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Siengsukon is herself a product of Southern Baptist mission work in Thailand. She expressed gratitude to Southern Baptists for sending missionaries to her country.

She and her husband came to the United States in 1982 with few material possessions, she said, but they discovered God’s call to “live the joy of missions.”

Referring to Jesus’ admonition to “Love your neighbor as yourself” in Luke 10:27, Siengsukon admitted, “Wow! This is not easy. … Most of us love ourselves a little bit more.”

She said she has learned the “joy of missions is to give your joy away.”

Relating her 26 years of working in language missions in the United States, she urged the crowd, “When you see people who look different from you, get to know them. They are good people. … The language barrier may be keeping them from knowing our Lord Jesus Christ. … Reach them through your love and your action.”

Among other speakers during the conference, Edna Ellison, author of “Deeper Still: A Woman’s Guide to a Closer Walk with God,” challenged the women to examine their hearts and delve deeper into prayer.

“Be prayer warriors not problem worriers,” she encouraged. “Won’t you dare to let God change the world though you?”

Norman Blackaby, coauthor of “Called and Accountable: Discovering Your Place in God’s Eternal Purpose,” citing the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14–30, encouraged the women to consider what has been entrusted to them — not just financial resources but their place of service, burdens on their heart, talents, gifts, and relationships.

“God is not only entrusting you with these things, but holding you accountable,” Blackaby said. “Have you been faithful in the smaller things, like ministering to your community, so that God can entrust you with more, such as giving you a burden for a people group?”

“The true joy of missions comes not from our satisfaction, but because we walk with him and allow him to love others through our life,” Blackaby said. “The challenges in missions are always overcome by joy that comes with living the mission.”
Reported by Julie Walters, communications specialist with Woman’s Missionary Union, and Charlie Warren, Stella Prather & Lisa Watson of the Arkansas Baptist News.

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