Alabama’s Christian job corps volunteerism, giving on risecomment (0)
November 1, 2012
By Kristen Padilla
Two years ago The Alabama Baptist ran a story about how the ministry of Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC)/Christian Men’s Job Corps (CMJC) was suffering in Alabama, like so many others, because of the economy.
CWJC/CMJC is a ministry of national Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) (see story, this page).
But now, two years later, there is a different story to tell, said Linda Henry, volunteer Alabama CWJC/CMJC coordinator and executive director of Marshall County Christian Services in Albertville. Despite an economy that has not improved and the 2011 tornadoes that ravaged the state, CWJC/CMJC volunteerism and giving are up, she said.
“Our giving has increased this year here (in Marshall County),” Henry said. “We have people giving who never gave before. Alabama Baptists are doing a better job supporting (us) than (they have in) the past; they really are.
“It’s a God thing,” she added. “Maybe it had to get really bad to humble us and get us on our knees ... to start asking Him and thanking Him. Prayer is the answer to all these things.”
In 2010 four sites had closed their doors and one was on the verge. Now, in 2012, a new site has opened in Blount County, a fourth site has been added in Marshall County, a second site has begun in Calhoun County at its county jail, and Madison County is looking to expand to four sites hopefully by next year.
“What has contributed to the growth is the exposure Christian Women’s Job Corps has had, and it is what our site coordinators are doing in their areas to get [themselves] on the news and promote the things they are doing,” Henry said.
A second contributing factor to the exposure given to CWJC/CMJC this year is due to Alabama WMU featuring its CWJC/CMJC ministry in its annual Kathleen Mallory Day of Prayer materials in September.
“[The Kathleen Mallory Day of Prayer] reminds them about this ministry,” said Pat Ingram, missions and ministry consultant for Alabama WMU. “Even if they don’t have [a CWJC/CMJC site] in their area, they are praying for one.”
Henry said the stories and materials published by Alabama WMU “opened the eyes” to many women across the state about the CWJC/CMJC ministry, and she saw a direct effect from the exposure.
Girls in Action (GA) groups around the state collected items and gift cards to take the CWJC/CMJC sites; CWJC/CMJC site coordinators were contacted to speak to local and associational WMU groups; and Henry received emails from women telling her they were praying for the ministry.
But one specific instance made a special impression on Henry. The logo for CWJC consists of two red hands forming the bud of a flower with a stem and one leaf coming down from the hands. One particular GA group bought plain pillowcases and drew their hands on the pillowcases to mimic the logo. Underneath the logo, each wrote a message to a woman. One of these messages said, “When I go to sleep at night, I pray for you.” These pillowcases were delivered and given to participants at the group’s local CWJC site.
“From my perspective with the Baptists in Alabama, once they learn the ministry and get involved in the ministry they have a great faithfulness to it,” said Jean Roberson, ministry consultant and adult resource team leader of national WMU and director of CWJC/CMJC and International Initiatives. “They stay very faithful to stand by our sites.”
One example of Baptists staying faithful to CWJC/CMJC is found in Marshall County. Director of Missions for Marshall Baptist Association Randall Stoner said that despite hard times, “efforts have multiplied.”
“[CWJC/CMJC] has blown into a lot more than what we thought 10 years ago,” Stoner said. “The efforts have multiplied. Food distribution is one of our major things. … They teach these ladies how to cook.
“The churches are invested in it,” he continued. “Even though these are hard times, we’re stepping up together. We’re doing what the Lord has commissioned us to do.”
There’s been a similar commitment in Calhoun Baptist Association. In 2005, Calhoun Association decided to make a commitment to help women in its area holistically, and the best way to accomplish that was to house a CWJC site in its building.
“We made a commitment to give a hand up instead of just a handout,” said Sid Nichols, Calhoun Association director of missions. “It’s been a very rewarding ministry for us.”
In May, as a way to get more people involved and to raise money for the ministry, the Calhoun CWJC had its first fashion show and silent auction. The event raised $3,500, which bought three new laptops and 10 licenses for the computer program Microsoft 2010 with money to spare. But more than the financial help the event raised awareness about the ministry.
“One of our biggest needs is to have mentors,” said Kathryn Nunnelley, Calhoun CWJC site co-coordinator. “We wanted to inspire the people who came to the event to get involved. It was called ‘Face-to-Face’ [because it] centered around having personal relationships.”
And it’s because CWJC/CMJC focuses on one-on-one mentoring relationships that makes this ministry so appealing to those who get involved. “Ministering and working inside of CWJC and CMJC is a place that is not just a ministry that asks for money,” Roberson said. “It’s a ministry that needs your time almost more than they need your money.
“Our sites are hungry for Southern Baptists, for churches to realize they are ministries of WMU. They want churches to … engage men and women around [them].”
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