Site Stories

CWJC Helps Women Find Who They Are In Christ

(Photo courtesy of CWJC Carlsbad.)

One student — that’s all Christian Women’s Job Corps of Carlsbad, New Mexico, had on their class roster when they were getting close to starting their first semester in early 2021.

And even though it was just one, Margaret Bemis felt like it was just the right time to get started. It had not been an easy road to get there, and she felt like God was opening the doors.

Bemis said she and Cherish Lexvold, her co-director at the time, had just been getting things started to open the CWJC site in early 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

But even though the situation made getting set up more complicated, Bemis felt like the community needed CWJC’s services more than ever. CWJC, a ministry of Woman’s Missionary Union, offers women the opportunity to reach their full potential and improve their situation through job and life skills training.

So Bemis and Lexvold continued to push through, make plans and enlist mentors. They got the support of local churches — Church Street Church of the Nazarene, which provides the building and an operational budget, as well as First Baptist Church and First Presbyterian Church.

And when only one person signed up for their first semester, they kept going.

That first participant “was so eager to take the course,” Bemis said.

About two days before class started, a second woman signed up.

“I really do believe it was God saying, ‘The door is open; do it,’” Bemis said. “We probably had the best volunteer-student ratio that semester we’ve ever had. There were those two ladies, and they thrived and are still thriving and have grown since then.”

Both women had come from difficult backgrounds, and one had bounced around from place to place and didn’t know where to settle in, Bemis said. “She was just kind of blowing in the wind, and she was hoping she would get skills to get a better job.”

Now that woman is a spokesperson and a cheerleader for CWJC, Bemis said. “What she always ends up saying to the other ladies in our program is ‘you think you’re here so you can get a better job, and what you are going to find out is who you are in Christ.’”

The other student in that first class was struggling with addiction and now has a different story, Bemis said. “The strength of her testimony has been that, yes, she can get the job she wants now because she has much better skills — she really took hold of all the job skills that were offered to her. But she also said I know that I had strongholds that were keeping me from moving forward. I don’t have a struggle with alcohol anymore because it doesn’t offer me what I need.”

Since that original class, CWJC of Carlsbad has seen 12 more women graduate, including a 72-year-old widow whom they helped start a seamstress business after her husband passed away.

“She is thriving spiritually, and so is her business — she’s having to turn business away,” Bemis said.

A recent site development grant from the WMU Foundation’s Sybil Bentley Dove Endowment is helping CWJC of Carlsbad prepare to equip even more women. The endowment supports CWJC by providing scholarships to participants and a grant for Dove Award recipients in addition to site development grants.

Bemis said the funds they received for their site are going to purchase licenses for business software such as Canva Pro, Slack Pro, Adobe programs and QuickBooks. The grant also helped them purchase a new computer curriculum they will begin using in the fall.

“It’s been amazing to see what God has done,” Bemis said.

by Grace Thornton, writer for The Baptist Paper

Site Stories

Cross Walk to Life Staff Member Says God Put Pieces in Place for Ministry

(Photo Courtesy of Crosswalk to Life)

After Ana L. Uribe got married, the couple’s path took them all over the place — from Houston, Texas, to Las Cruces, New Mexico, to Germany and then to Alabama.

But in 2020, the couple couldn’t shake the feeling that God wanted them to retrace their steps.

“We felt God keep moving our hearts to move back to Las Cruces, but there were no jobs for my husband,” Uribe said. “So we said, ‘If God wants us to go back, He will open doors.’ And He sure did.”

Uribe’s husband was offered a good job at the place he used to work, and they rejoined the church they had been a part of there — Iglesia Bautista Buenas Nuevas (Good News Baptist Church). But not long after they moved back, a tragedy happened — the pastor and his wife both died of COVID-19.

Uribe said her husband knew instantly that the call to pastoral ministry that he had been running from for a while had finally caught up to him.

“That was the feeling God had placed in our hearts to come back to Las Cruces,” she said.

He became the church’s pastor, and Uribe led the women’s ministry.

She revived Mujer Virtuosa (Virtuous Woman), a ministry that she had started when they lived there 12 years before, hosting a monthly breakfast and inviting women from all walks of life to hear the gospel, find community and talk through any life issues they might be facing.

Uribe’s heart was in this kind of ministry. And it wasn’t long before an opportunity came along to do more of it — as administrative assistant for Cross Walk to Life, a Christian Women’s Job Corps site that offers women the opportunity to reach their full potential and improve their situation through job and life skills training.

“I got hired and started working there part time,” Uribe said, noting that she appreciated that one purpose of the ministry was to serve the large Hispanic community there.

Her fluency in both languages made her a perfect fit, along with her technology skills and heart for the ministry, said Carol Gilliland, director of Cross Walk to Life.

“We need someone who is good with technology and has good office skills so she can take care of the necessary things to make the ministry run smoothly,” Gilliland said. “She’s a whiz-bang at it.”

In the time Uribe has been there, she’s helped draw more women to Cross Walk to Life by networking in Spanish on Facebook. She’s also taught classes in English and Spanish in addition to organizing the ministry’s schedule and newsletters and taking care of other logistics. Starting in September, she will teach a new class on money management that the women have been asking for.

“She’s a blessing from God,” Gilliland said. “She’s very gifted, and she’s helped us reach people. She’s the glue that holds us together.”

The funding for Uribe’s role comes from a site grant from the WMU Foundation’s CWJC/CMJC Endowment, something Gilliland says she’s grateful for.

“I love what God has done at Cross Walk to Life through her help,” Gilliland said.

Uribe said she’s thankful for the way God has moved everything around to get her and her husband — along with their two sons, who are now teenagers — in the right place and provide what they needed to get there.

“It’s been a great experience,” she said.

Many of the women now go to her church also, and one of Cross Walk to Life’s participants who had no previous experience with computers became the church secretary after graduating from the program. Uribe is grateful to see those kinds of stories.

“It’s been a blessing all around to be a part of this community and the women that we’re serving,” she said.

by Grace Thornton, writer for The Baptist Paper