his year Women’s Ministries (WM) celebrates 20 years as a department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Through the years Women’s Ministries has grown to become one of the most active departments in our church. Our emphasis, “A Ministry to Every Woman: Touch a Heart, Tell the World,” has been a clarion call for our sisters to meet the needs of those we encounter. Our mission statement, which guides our actions as a department, can be summarized in three words: nurture, empower, and outreach. Through the years multiple resources have been developed for the world field to train and enhance the work of our sisters in these three areas.
Nurturing our members spiritually, emotionally, and physically is a vital part of WM, and this extends to our young women, as we have seen growth in ministry to our teens and young adults in this quinquennium. The Southern Asia-Pacific Division has taken on the challenge of ministering to teen girls in the Davao Mission through Pink Ministries. At a two-day convention titled “Making a Difference in Your Life and Ministries Through Service” young women learned new skills, attended seminars, and participated in physical activities. “I was so blessed to come here,” said one young woman. “I learned a lot, and I am spiritually filled.”
Our physical and mental health are vital to our spiritual health, so emphasis is placed on looking after the “body temple” (see 1 Cor. 6:19). Women receive information and education to help themselves and their families, and use this knowledge to reach out to others. In the Northern Asia-Pacific Division, Asakawa Chizuko felt impressed by the Holy Spirit to provide healthy vegetarian lunches for the Shalom Nursing Home, which led to her teaching vegetarian classes to families in the community. This has resulted in Bible studies to nine individuals.
Bible study and prayer are the lifeblood of all we do in WM. Our sisters around the world are involved in small-group ministries to encourage each other in their Christian journey and growth in God’s Word. In Nish, Serbia (Trans-European Division), Ljijlana Jovanovic-Arandjelovic leads a group of nine women once a week for Bible study and prayer. In addition to study they have also been able to help many in need as a result of prayer and sacrificial giving. This is duplicated all around the world church as women petition the throne of God for strength, grace, and joy to carry out their mission.
Ellen White admonished women, “In the different churches, much work which is often left undone or done imperfectly could be well accomplished by the help that our sisters, if properly instructed, can give.”1 Instructing and educating our sisters in the areas of leadership, evangelism, health, giving Bible studies, community projects, and more is vital to our role so we can be empowered for service in the church and community.
The enditnow campaign has made an impact around the world by educating women on the issue of abuse, as it has empowered them to take the message of ending violence against women and girls to their communities and government officials. In a Bulgaria (Inter-European Division) state professional school, Adventist teacher Stefka Anastasova hosted enditnow seminars on abuse prevention and awareness for the students. As a result, the school received a state reward and national prize for being a school without violence, stereotypes, and gender discrimination.
On the islands of Tonga and Kiribati (South Pacific Division) more than 100 women attended a leadership training event. At the end, women felt more confident and empowered to do more for God. Some expressed their desire to serve in their neighborhoods. One non-Adventist woman said, “My town council administration sent me here to be trained as a leader. Before today I had never opened a Bible in my life! Thank you for what you have taught me; I can now go back to my administrators, show them my certificate, and do a better job for the town council than before.”
Helping our sisters attain their God-given potential is the driving force behind our WM scholarship program, which is supported by our women’s devotional book and faithful donors. Through the years we have given scholarships to 1,526 women in 127 countries in the amount of US$1,067,650.04. To God be the glory!
In the area of outreach we are inspired and motivated by Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:19, 20. Women are an essential element in outreach in every local church. We believe that serving and sharing the gospel of Jesus cannot be separated. In 2014 the women of the Republic of Bénin (West-Central Africa Division) used small groups to reach out to friends and neighbors from January through April. In June, reaping meetings were held, during which more than 90 women preached in 88 evangelistic centers supported by other women who prayed and visited homes. At the end of the two weeks 117 precious souls were baptized, among whom was a wealthy Muslim woman and her son. She was happy to encounter the truth and find peace with Jesus. Her motto is “no turning back.”
At the WM convention in North America in September 2014, nearly 800 women participated in an outreach ministry called “God in Shoes.” Participants boarded buses and went to 15 shelters in the Orlando, Florida, area. Some of the shelters housed homeless women and their children, drug-addicted women, and teen girls with behavioral or other issues. Our sisters distributed bags of gifts and toiletries, towels, bedding, pillows, laundry detergent, etc. Spa time was a favorite treat, as women in shelters are not accustomed to pampering themselves. Our women gave hand and foot massages, haircuts, and manicures. Buildings were cleaned, food was served, and seminars on self-esteem and goal setting were presented. New shoes were given to each woman, and US$16,000 in offerings were given to two of the shelters.
The WM department of the Middle East University campus church reached out to hurting refugees of the Syrian war who are displaced in Lebanon. Many of the refugees live in tents, which are cold in the winter, with poor sanitary conditions. Women from the church collected needed items, such as food, shoes, winter clothes, 40 portable stoves, and various kitchen items, and distributed them throughout four refugee camps. Now our sisters return each week to help teach smaller children and assist with medical care where needed.
Adventist women in Uganda (East-Central Africa Division) joined hands and mobilized funds to support Musisi Wilberforce, widower and father of four. Women mobilized funds and constructed a better house for him. Wilberforce accepted Christ and is now a baptized member attending Besania Adventist Church.
Ellen G. White wrote: “In the various branches of the work of God’s cause, there is a wide field in which our sisters may do good service for the Master.”2 As we look at women’s ministries around the world over the past 20 years we rejoice that women are involved in all areas of mission and are actively winning souls for Jesus. We thank God for His guidance, wisdom, and Holy Spirit empowerment through the years. We will continue to serve as we look joyfully toward our Savior’s soon return.
- Ellen G. White, Evangelism (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1946), p. 466. (Italics supplied.)