Making connections, building confidence in women

Women Without Borders multiplies impact of ministry leaders

Confidence and connections: They spell success in ministry just as much as in business or education.

They are two big reasons behind Women Without Borders, a cross-cultural partnership between ReachGlobal and the La Unión de Damas (The United Women’s Ministry) of the Venezuelan Evangelical Free Church.

By hosting workshops, providing study materials, helping organize conferences where women can meet, and connecting younger women with mentors, WWB tries to equip women leaders with tools they can use to strengthen their ministries.

Helping leaders lead

Along the way, they build a sense of community and competence. WWB focuses on assisting women like Carmen Matienzo, a Peruvian ministry leader whose team organized a recent women’s conference in Lima. The conference provided a valuable opportunity for women to meet each other, but to sit in on workshops such as “How to Grow in Devotion to God” and hear biblical teaching from other women.

“There have been changes in the spiritual growth of the women, in them working out of their gifts and talents,” Carmen says. “The women are more encouraged to get involved in discipling other women, in leading Bible study groups and in getting to know women from other churches and sharing their concerns, desires, services [and] ministries.”

For four years, a small team from WWB (including Rebecca, a ReachGlobal missionary serving in Latin America), has been traveling to churches in Venezuela, Colombia, Honduras and Peru to help equip women for ministry.

This often means meeting with small groups of leaders, from three to 20 women. Sometimes it means helping local groups that are hosting events such as the Lima conference, which drew about 140 women from eight local churches.

Building women up

Of all the things that WWB does – including encouragement, organizing conferences, visiting local ministries and setting women up with mentors – perhaps the most important thing is to give women the confidence and training they need to carry out ministry successfully, Rebecca says.

“Really the focus of the what the ministry does is coming alongside them, hearing their story, giving validity to what they’re facing and helping them to [find] solutions,” Rebecca says, “which gives them confidence because they have women around them basically saying, ‘You’re not alone, and you’re not the only one to face this — here’s some things you can do, and you can do it.’”

So far, WWB has focused on leaders such as Carmen because through local leaders, WWB can multiply its efforts more effectively. So far, Rebecca estimates that WWB has met with about 300 women in the Free Churches through which it has held its events.

In its workshops and mentoring, WWB tries to focus on helping women in three areas:

  1. Spiritual development: For example, identifying spiritual gifts and learning how to read the Bible better.
  2. Being a godly leader: Discussing issues of character, how to develop a team, how to lead a team and how to make their own devotional life a priority so that they can help others to do the same.
  3. How-to’s of ministry development: How to serve in difficult ministry settings, how to organize a Bible study, and how to plan for activities.

After four years of ministering in Peru, investing in those goals has begun to pay off, Rebecca says.

“What we want is that in each country, they come to a conclusion of what they can do and what the women need to help them be equipped,” Rebecca says. “That is what has happened in Peru. We are doing for them what they want us to be doing.”

Learn More

Read more about ReachGlobal’s work in other countries.

Read more about Women Without Borders.

Find out more about ReachGlobal’s work in Latin America.

Compassion for the Destitute in San Jose

ReachGlobal reaches poor through clinic partnership

Some people in Costa Rica can easily afford health care. Others, like Maria*, can only hope and pray for it.

Temporarily without her usual domestic-help jobs, Maria, a sweet middle-aged Nicaraguan woman, lives with 16 other family members under the same roof in the La Carpio slum of San Jose, Costa Rica.

On the main street, run-down houses are crammed together and look as though they could fall apart at any moment. You can smell the pollution in the air congesting your lungs. The garbage that lies on the streets and sidewalks is embedded in the cracks.

Responding to the influx of war refugees from Nicaragua, Christ for the City International founded Clínica Cristiana more than 15 years ago. They seek to provide basic medical and dental services to people like Maria who struggle to thrive day-to-day.

“I feel good about the way they have attended me here,” Maria says. “They always attend me well when I come. It is a way of surviving around here. If this clinic wasn’t around I don’t know what we’d do.”

Volunteers at the clinic also realize the greater need for spiritual healing of the heart: ReachGlobal missionaries Cathi and Melanie pray for a distraught patient whose newly discovered medical problem may go untreated because of family lack of funds for basic care.

Maria’s world

Without the security of a monthly paycheck and legal documents, basic health care is very difficult to find.

This specific clinic, however, is helpful to the people of La Carpio because those without insurance can see a dentist or a nurse without paying a price that’s probably too expensive. Even the seemingly affordable $8 Pap test, for example, proves too steep for many patients. In such cases, it is not unusual for one of the volunteers to cover the cost.

Their overarching goal is compassion: to extend a helping hand while meeting people’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

“They try to give back a little love through the medical appointments,” Maria says. “They don’t just give us this, though, as they also give us occasional talks about the Word of God.”

Cathi’s passion

Cathi, a registered nurse who partners with Clínica Cristiana, has been volunteering on Tuesdays and Fridays for the past four years.

After the initial adjustment in moving to Costa Rica, Cathi struggled to find her purpose—outside of caring for her family. In the midst of frustrated tears one day, she begged God for direction. The very next day a doctor from the clinic called, asking Cathi if she would be interested in joining their ministry.

Although shock gripped her heart as she entered the slum that first day, the women’s need for accurate information and good health care has drawn her back week after week.

“I’d say that I have a deeper appreciation for the plight of women everywhere. Just seeing how we can meet their needs—their spiritual needs as well as their emotional needs, just by being here for women who have no social support of any sort.”

Serving women in the clinic has revived Cathi’s passion for ministering to the sick and brokenhearted.

“I think there’s always room for some kind of holistic health care,” Cathi says. “I think wherever any mission agency goes, we need to address the whole person—not just the physical but the spiritual and emotional aspect. That can be done anywhere in the world, but it takes people.”

*Name has been changed to protect patient’s confidentiality.

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  • For Cathi and staff as they serve the community of La Carpio, an area of occasional tension and unrest.
  • That the clinic will find a gynecologist experienced with colposcopy and other gynecological procedures.

The clinic is always in need of receiving blankets for newborns. It also has continual demand for 0-3 month t-shirts and hats for newborns. Contact Cathi to donate these items.



Venezuelans Ministering Beyond Their Borders

In a rented house in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, three women met with the desire to create a new ministry for the 15 to 20 women in their church.

Monica, Ivonne and Emérita (Ivonne’s mother), members of a small Evangelical Free Church, struggled to orchestrate monthly meetings. There was an overall lack of commitment and unity among the women, and few attended.

“We didn’t have anyone to guide us to be good leaders,” Monica says. “We didn’t know how to lead or guide Bible studies. We didn’t have many resource materials. We didn’t have anyone to help us [the leadership team] to grow spiritually or disciple us.”

That is when they heard about Women without Borders (Ministerio Mujeres Sin Fronteras) through a missionary couple serving in Honduras. WWB is a sub-ministry of the National Women’s Ministry (La Unión de Damas) of the Evangelical Free Church of Venezuela which is comprised of more than 60 churches.

“Within Venezuela, the National Women’s Ministry is great,” says Rebecca, an EFCA ReachGlobal missionary working with WWB. “They have awesome resources and equip women around their country. Realizing how much God has taught them, they now share that with others outside their borders.”

That realization led the National Women’s Ministry to create WWB to train and mentor women leaders outside of Venezuela, like the women in Honduras.

In the spring of 2010, Rebecca visited Monica, Ivonne and Emérita in Honduras to explain more about WWB.

“It impressed me how these women [of WWB] have organized their time and ministry,” Monica says. “They are women who are busy, they work and have families, but they can still serve the Lord in their churches and through this special ministry.”

In July 2011, WWB sent Rebecca and three Venezuelan women on a five-day trip to Honduras to build a partnership with the Honduran women. Throughout the week, the WWB team taught workshop classes on how to organize and structure a women’s ministry.

The Honduran leadership team was very responsive to the teaching, and they plan to apply what they learned to create new structures for ministry.

“I will need to organize myself and my time better,” Monica says. “In order for this ministry to grow, I will need to spend more time with the women, caring for them and visiting them. As a team, we will need to work together to do a better job of planning events, Bible studies and activities.”

The WWB team had the chance to meet with all the women of the church in Honduras, to learn of their needs and to encourage them. They had times of prayer, worship, fellowship and meals together. The team also had the opportunity to teach from God’s word on the idea of Christian unity and community.

Monica, Ivonne and Emérita all desire spiritual mentorship and encouragement as they move forward in their renewed women’s ministry. WWB is providing three Venezuelan mentors for these leaders. Each Honduran woman will have bi-weekly Skype calls with her mentor to discuss her Bible study, gain resources and receive encouragement.

“This partnership has and will affect our women’s ministry by strengthening us as a team and equipping us as women leaders, so that we can accomplish the goal of developing a healthy, effective women’s ministry,” Monica says.

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  • For Monica, Ivonne, Emérita, and their church in Tegucigalpa — that God would bless the women’s ministry and would use these women leaders to serve their fellow women in Honduras.
  • That Women without Borders would continue to have God-ordained opportunities to minister to women in other countries throughout Latin America.

Make an online donation to Women without Borders.