HENDERSON, TEXAS—When it comes to impacting women’s lives through the ministry of Christian Women’s Job Corps, Christie Gambrell’s basic perspective is: “At CWJC, we help meet the felt needs of women as we help them find their true worth through Jesus.”
As executive director of Christian Women’s Job Corps of Rusk County, Texas, Gambrell has worked with hundreds of women over the past several years. CWJC of Rusk County, which opened its doors in 2002 in Henderson, Texas, seeks to reach women with the love of Jesus while helping equip them for life and employment.
Among CWJC’s diverse offerings are English as a Second Language, which includes citizenship classes, and Life Skills training, which addresses such topics as money management, healthy relationships, computer classes, Bible storying and mentoring. Volunteers also provide literacy and high school equivalency (GED) tutoring. Additionally, CWJC of Rusk County is one of six CWJC programs in the nation that include a WorldCrafts artisan group, a fair trade compassion ministry of National Woman’s Missionary Union.
Noting that “we work with about 50 women every year and usually about that many volunteers,” Gambrell said, “When you work with this many women, you see women who succeed and women who don’t. But that’s true in every form of education and Christian ministry.
“We’ve had some wonderful successes,” she added. “Each semester we see women successfully enter the workforce. This past year we had four women who received their citizenship. We have women who’ve gone to college. We have one who’s working on her master’s degree right now.”
She said they also have participants “who we’ve gotten to see their children go to college and their children get awards which is so fantastic because that goes back to the founding thought of Christian Women’s Job Corps that you’re changing the children’s lives and changing the family.”
MENTORS CHEER ON PARTICIPANTS
Gambrell noted that recruiting mentors typically is one of the biggest challenges for most CWJC sites.
Participants “who are able to have mentors are the ones that I always see the greatest success with,” she added. “I don’t think people understand the importance of having somebody who’s your personal cheerleader, someone to stick with you and encourage you. That’s especially true with single women or women who don’t have a supportive family.”
ON MISSION AT HOME
“Christian Women’s Job Corps has been a wonderful way to reach women in the community with the gospel of Jesus Christ, with encouragement for their lives and with support,” Gambrell said. “Our mission field is right here.
“The national WMU has been such an encouragement to us. They help us with promotional materials, with training, with so many things, and our state WMU has been a great support as well,” she affirmed. “There are always needs in your community and we as people of the Lord are called to reach out to those around us.”
Diana Willis, one of the CWJC volunteer tutors committed to helping meet those needs, has 16 years of experience as a high school math teacher. Noting that many of the participants pursuing their GED needed help with math, she said, “I felt like I could make a little bit of a difference.
“I enjoy helping people learn something that they don’t know,” she added. “I feel like my spiritual gift is service and I feel like it’s a service to help someone improve their life and work toward their GED if they don’t have it. It’s just fulfilling to know that I’m helping somebody along that path.”
Citing CWJC of Rusk County’s practical impact in the lives of participants, Gambrell said she has seen many of the women go on to gain “a variety of jobs that make them feel like they’re women of worth.”
“It’s great to see them become someone that they didn’t think they could be,” she concluded. “It’s because somebody believed in them and somebody invested in their lives. That’s what Christian Women’s Job Corps is all about.”
By Trennis Henderson, WMU National Correspondents