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Effective outreach comes in various forms

(February 24, 2002)

Creative leadership, compassion for the lost and a vision for what God can accomplish through their lives have inspired dynamic Women’s Ministries groups within various Assemblies of God congregations across the nation.

In Shreveport, La., 65 women drove to a rural home in terrible weather to share an enjoyable, inspirational afternoon. The Sunday following that "Christmas in the Country," two young women attended services at Broadmoor Assembly of God for the first time. In Shreveport, Women’s Ministries has come alive and the women intend to keep it that way.

Ministry in action: Cynthia Smith (left) prays for another woman at the Assemblies of God Women in Ministry Conference last year in Springfield, Mo.

The church’s Women’s Ministries executive committee and President Joyce Sepulvado spent the beginning of last year in prayer, inviting God to change their lives in whatever manner He might choose. Armed with vision and fresh ideas, they kicked off 2001 with an "Out of the Boat" luncheon, inspired by the account of Peter stepping out of a boat to walk on the water to Christ. Sepulvado challenged the 70 women in attendance to "step out of the boat" and believe God for big things to happen in Women’s Ministries. As a result, a record number of volunteers took a step of faith to get involved in ministry.

Sepulvado is a creative leader, but she stresses that creativity alone is fruitless.

"Allow your creativity to be inspired by God, then have the faith to believe God for results," she says. She credits God for the strong attendance at the ministry’s event evangelism gatherings and the weekly morning Bible studies that have grown in attendance nearly fivefold.

While creativity and vision gird Women’s Ministries in Shreveport, it’s compassion for the lost that drives the women of Grace Community Church in Englewood, Colo. God is calling women to get outside the four walls of the church through an outreach ministry in halfway houses to women who are re-entering society after serving time in prison. The church’s Women’s Ministries invites halfway house graduates to a special luncheon.

Velma Williams, Women’s Ministries president, explains that, in contrast to the rigid atmosphere of the halfway house, "this luncheon is a welcome occasion where the women are loved and pampered with no expectation of anything in return."

Each guest is welcomed by her own hostess, who is a member of Women’s Ministries. Members lend listening ears, allowing guests opportunities to share about family, hopes and future dreams. Guests then receive the Book of Hope and other literature along with a gift bag of personal items.

After the women are released from the halfway house, most move and do not return to Grace Community Church. Although Women’s Ministries members have impacted these women’s lives, the former prisoners also have changed Women’s Ministries. The encounters have increased members’ compassion and burden for the lost.

A desire to rescue lost lives also drives Jeanie Turner, who has a heart for women trapped in the sex entertainment industry. Under her leadership, women from First Assembly of God of Fort Myers, Fla., have been ministering to nightclub dancers for nearly four years through a ministry called One Way Out.

Women are responding to the love of Jesus, but making the transition from the lucrative nightclub scene to traditional employment is often difficult. Turner had a vision to open a Safe Harbor Home for women wanting to change their lives.

In September, Turner’s dream became a reality. A large home has room for several women and their children. Women’s Ministries helps them with childcare, wardrobe, learning new skills, job search and, most importantly, discipleship. The name of the new ministry is Chabash, the Hebrew word for binding up and protecting while healing occurs.

Local Women’s Ministries groups thrive when they have a vision for what God can accomplish and follow through with action.

— Dawn Storer

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