February 23, 2019

Women in Inter-America Called to Enrich Church and Community

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

Women’s Ministries leaders from throughout the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Inter-American Division (IAD) recently met to reaffirm their role and commitment to reach and enrich the lives of other women in churches and communities in 2019 and beyond.

More than 200 women’s ministries directors from across unions, conferences, and missions prayed, shared, and networked together during a two-day training conference held in Miami, Florida, United States, February 10-12, 2019.

“God has put in your heart a special passion and energy to do what you do for the Lord,” said IAD president Elie Henry. “You represent a vital force that perhaps is not as appreciated as it should be, but you are all important and have a place in God’s plans.”

“God tells us that He loves us, and the act of loving means that we have a responsibility to be like Christ — that’s why He created us,” Henry said.

Themed “Chosen and Loved,” which is drawn from Jeremiah 31:3 in the Bible, the event sought to remind women that they have been chosen and loved by God with a great purpose, said Dinorah Rivera, IAD women’s ministries director and main organizer of the gathering. “When women find their purpose in Jesus, they can be used by the church with greater impact because they are living that purpose,” she said.

It’s about loving and nurturing those who are in the church before reaching more in the community for Jesus, said Rivera about the initiative. “We want women in the church to be strengthened and nurtured — that woman who may be following the Bible doctrines, who attends church regularly but may be dealing with abuse, lack of identity, and more, and we want to reaffirm her value in Jesus,” she said.

“Think of that daughter, that mother, that family member, that neighbor, that acquaintance, that work colleague, that adolescent girl, and commit to reaching and enriching her life, and for Jesus,” Rivera said as she called on attendees to write down the name of someone and pray for them. “Be an agent of change for the good of society, a channel that can lead others to be the best versions of themselves.”

Being their best versions of themselves is what will allow a better witness for Jesus to reach more women in the community, Rivera explained as she challenged the leaders to commit to leading at least one woman to Jesus in 2019, as the initiative entails.

Adventist Church children’s ministries director Linda Koh greeted women leaders on behalf of her women’s ministries colleagues, who were unable to attend the event.

“All of us are chosen because God needs us, and He has chosen us in spite of our strengths and weaknesses, so we can be a light in our communities,” Koh said. “You are chosen to be a disciple, chosen to bear fruits of mission, love, and service to make other disciples.”

Attendees listened to presentations on forgiveness, on being happy despite imperfections, on how to overcome stress and exhaustion, and more.

Edna Alvarado, former women’s ministries director in South Mexico, was honored for her leadership and service for the church in Inter-America for more than 34 years. She spoke to the delegation on the importance of being a Christian woman and the will to serve.

“God calls us to grow in Him,” Alvarado said. “You will only grow spiritually if you are determined to serve others.” God must be first in your life, she said, and then you have to be well in Him before you can reach someone else.

Minelly Ruiz, women’s ministries director in the Chiapas Mexican Union, said she was eager to pass along the training to the thousands of women across her region. With more than 97,000 active women throughout more than 3,000 congregations in Chiapas, the mission-driven initiative will propel committed women to reach and enrich the lives of so many more women throughout unentered communities across cities and towns there, she said.

“The women are active in plenty of community outreach activities, in evangelistic campaigns, in helping plant churches where there is no Adventist presence,” Ruiz said, but this initiative will inspire them to reach even more this year. Last year, more than 5,217 believers joined the church as a direct result of women’s ministries. “This year we want to reach more,” she added.

“Women’s ministries is very strong in our territory,” Ruiz said. “Young girls and adolescents are brought in and trained alongside their mothers and church members and get involved in the mission of the church.”

Ruiz has already gotten together with the eight conference and mission field women’s ministries directors from her territory who attended the meetings and jotted down dates for the hundreds of church district leaders to receive training in the coming weeks.

Caribbean Union women’s ministries director Debra Henry said she looks forward to seeing the initiative bolster outreach efforts across dozens of islands. “Women in our territory hold the church together, and they are quick to do projects and turn that energy into introducing Jesus in the lives of others,” she said.

Henry said women are very active in prison ministries, community outreach, care of the elderly, helping single mothers, and public evangelism, and will work closely together to focus on looking at the needs of women in the community.

Rivera agreed. “We are not just looking to add another number to our church membership but to nurture each life in Jesus,” she said.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.