BIRMINGHAM, AL — More than 160 Christian Women’s Job Corps/Christian Men’s Job Corps site coordinators and leaders across the country gathered at Woman’s Missionary Union headquarters in Birmingham, AL Aug. 5-7, for the National CWJC/CMJC Event. Attendees sharpened their skills through conferences, networking opportunities, panel discussions and group seminars.
CWJC/CMJC offers life and job skills, mentoring and Bible study in a missions context, with women helping women and men helping men.
“The greatest impact CWJC/CMJC makes is addressing the participant’s whole self, physically and spiritually,” said Lena Plunk, national CWJC/CMJC coordinator. “Christ is the foundation of what CWJC/CMJC is. That makes it different than other job programs. Our goal is not just to prepare participants for jobs; we want them to see the freedom and wholeness they can have through Jesus Christ.”
In 174 registered and certified sites across the country — including four in California — coordinators lead efforts to help participants gain self-confidence, purpose, direction and hope for the future.
“One of the joys of serving is seeing lives changed by the power of the Holy Spirit and the relationships that develop through ministries such as these to encourage and help those who are seeking to improve their lives,” said Wanda Lee, executive director of national WMU. “But this kind of work requires an ongoing infusion of encouragement and learning as the needs of people, and the possibilities of assistance, change every day.”
To keep up with those changes CWJC/CMJC sites encounter, the national event hosted conferences on leadership styles, workforce development, conflict resolution, how to work with those in poverty and more. The training also included a question-and-answer session with Plunk in her new role as national coordinator.
In addition, registrants attended “speed conferences” designed as a time for round-table discussion and quick information on topics such as fund-raising basics, nonprofit issues, participant recruitment, volunteer training, curriculum evaluation, effective mentoring, leadership essentials and other specific issues.
Seasoned coordinators and leaders lent their expertise by teaching practical skills lessons. De La Rosa, founder of California’s first CWJC site, reminded attendees of their usefulness as she taught a skill development session.
“In our ministry, people are our focus,” De La Rosa said. “Why we’re drawn to this is because we love people. We’re moving people where they are to where God wants them to be.”
The event also targeted those with specific skill sets. Leaders of CMJC followed a special track of conferences focused on ministering to men, while CWJC/CMJC trainers were offered recertification courses.
One challenge many site coordinators face is how to minister to those coping with traumatic experiences. Specific conferences focused on the concepts of post-traumatic stress disorder and highlighted ministry tools and practical response ideas such as Bible storying.
Sara Hester, a board-certified chaplain at UAB Hospital, addressed the general session about the issues victims of trauma face.
“Feeling that you have something to contribute, can contribute and are worthy to contribute are just some of the things that trauma victims may struggle with,” Hester shared.
By pointing out the effects of trauma, Hester helped site coordinators and leaders identify ways to respond to participants’ needs.
The national event followed the July 1 launch of Develop, WMU’s online, on-demand leadership training program, featuring an introductory course on CWJC/CMJC for those interested in becoming site coordinators.