University of Alabama at Birmingham
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – An explosion of spiritual growth has occurred at Fort Smith Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC) in Fort Smith. The Lord has been opening doors right and left since the site started in 1999. Ministry has tripled. In addition to CWJC, it now includes Christian Men’s Job Corps (CMJC), as well as a satellite site in Charleston.
“We get comments all the time that there is nothing else like it,” said Valerie Fitch, executive director of Fort Smith CWJC. “Our site attracts people who will not enter the doors of a church. We meet people where they are and gain the opportunity to present the gospel.”
The year 2013 by the numbers: 168 participants, 42 mentor teams, 33 salvations, 22 baptisms and 29 graduates. Since the exponential growth, Fort Smith CWJC/CMJC has even relocated to a new home.
“The pace of the ministry is moving so quickly that we consistently outpace our grassroot level support,” stated Darin Swearingen, board chairman of both CWJC and CMJC in Fort Smith. “The positive development of the entire person is exciting to witness.”
A ministry of Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), the purpose of CWJC/CMJC is to provide a Christian context in which women and men in need are equipped for life and employment – and in a missions context in which women mentor women and men mentor men. CWJC/CMJC offers life skills, job skills, mentoring and Bible study.
Loucinda “Cinda” Onofre, once a self-proclaimed lost, self-destructive, alcoholic, is now on her way to promise and freedom, thanks in large part to Fort Smith CWJC.
Pregnant and separated from her husband, homeless and recently released from jail, Onofre wanted more out of life than merely to survive. She wanted to thrive. With hopes and dreams in her heart, she came to CWJC.
Today, Onofre is pursuing a degree in information technology security with a desire to combat Internet crime. She has two sons and is remarried. Fitch described Onofre’s mentor, Linda Payne, as “family.”
However, Jesus is now the most important relationship in her life. Her “greatest hope,” Onofre said, “is that others will see my story . . . my journey . . . and know they, too, can overcome the afflictions of this world through our Savior Jesus Christ.”
To assist her in reaching her goals, Onofre was awarded $1,500 from the WMU Foundation through the Faye Dove Scholarship. This annual award benefits CWJC graduates who thirst for knowledge and skill development and exemplify excellence in their lives.
In addition, Fort Smith CWJC/CMJC was recognized as the outstanding site in 2014 and received a $1,000 grant from the WMU Foundation to assist with their goals. Fitch said the grant will be used for items such as Bible study materials, Bibles, notebooks, journals and office supplies and equipment.
Jessica Griggs is a senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.