Established in 2000, CWJC of Central Mississippi offers a variety of classes including practical application Bible study, household budgeting, HIV and STD awareness and testing, women's health, computer literacy and parenting skills.
"What's unique about our site is we are the only faith-based, nonprofit organization in our area where women teach women and minister to the whole woman," Robin Mabry, site coordinator since 2009, said.
The grant that accompanies the outstanding site award will be used to set up classes for participants in forklift safety and certification training compliant with Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards, Mabry said.
"We have found that our students excel in light industrial environments, unlike clerical environments," she said. "It raises the potential pay scale to a higher level for them and opens doors into that industry."
CWJC of Central Mississippi is one of 206 registered and certified CWJC/CMJC sites across the country. CWJC and Christian Men's Job Corps are ministries of Woman's Missionary Union that equip women and men, in a Christian context, for life and employment. Each participant is engaged in a weekly Bible study and is paired with a mentor for encouragement and accountability; women mentor women in CWJC and men mentor men through CMJC.
God's provision has enabled these sites to encourage and equip participants in their spiritual journey, job skills and more. In Mississippi, Mabry said she can see God's fingerprints all over the ministry.
"God has been faithful in so many ways, from guiding us in a transition with our board of directors, to changing our curriculum this year to better fit the needs of our participants, to providing for our financial needs," Mabry, who accepted the award in January, said.
"We can never out give God. Our volunteers and mentors realize this as well with their service," she added. "Many of them come into this thinking they will be a blessing and find out they are the ones being blessed by being an example of Christ to hurting and lost women."
Many CWJC graduates also give back to the ministry because they know firsthand the impact it makes. One shining example is Annie Shirley, a pastor's wife who was living in a shelter with her children after her husband died because she had no means of supporting her family.
She discovered CWJC of Central Mississippi, graduated from the program in 2004, went on to earn a college degree and now gives back to other women in her community as she serves as president of the board of CWJC of Central Mississippi.
CWJC also is personal for Mabry.
"I lead in this ministry because of my own personal journey," she said. "My mother was 15 and unwed when I was born. She had no job skills and dropped out of school in the 10th grade. She struggled with making many bad choices, but she did the best she could with what she had.
"I followed her pattern by making bad choices of my own as I became a teenager and started doing drugs and getting involved with adult men," Mabry said. "I had some Christian encounters sprinkled throughout my life, but it was in 1999, when I married my second husband, that some Christian women started pouring into my life and telling me God had a plan for me. That is when I decided to give Jesus a try."
Jesus began working in her life, Mabry said, and she started telling others about His love and praying with them.
"That's when I thought to myself, 'What if my mom would have had someone to help her? ... How different my journey would have been.'"
Soon after that, Mabry learned about CWJC of Central Mississippi and their need for a site coordinator.
"I ran as fast as I could, telling God I wasn't ready," Mabry said. "But He told me I was and women needed to hear my story about His love, mercy and grace in my life and how He transformed me. This ministry is my testimony."
Current needs at the site include monthly donations and more volunteers, Mabry said.
"It's expensive educating an adult who has no resources and limited education. The expenses we cover range from insurance to general office supplies like pens and paper for us and participants," she said. "We also need some mature Christian women to pour their experience with Christ in their own lives into these ladies we are teaching."
Julie Walters is the corporate communications team leader for National WMU. To learn more about CWJC of Central Mississippi, call 601-259-9980 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To find a site near you, visit www.wmu.com/jobcorps.
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