This article was written by Gracen Goudy. Gracen is currently a junior at Ouachita Baptist University, where she is pursuing a major in Mass Communications and minors in Graphic Design and Christian Studies. She is from Benton, Arkansas and attends Geyer Springs First Baptist Church.
We have to be willing to share our lives with others. Amanda Yates, executive director of River Valley Christian Life, stands on this principle because of the way it has impacted her own life. Amanda’s mother-in-law was willing to share her life and become a present and available mentor for Amanda. This investment within Amanda’s life has now been transferred over and cohesive to the mission of River Valley Christian Life Corps.
This organization located in Fort Smith is a part of the national organization, Christian Women’s Job Corp. CWJC, as well as Christian Men’s Job Corp have nearly 200 registered and certified locations across the nation. With five different CWJC locations in Arkansas, one being River Valley Christian Life Corps, these organizations aim to help women entering into the workforce. Each is unique to their community but share a common goal in empowering and equipping women with life skills and biblical wisdom.
“When everyone thinks of poverty, they think of money,” Amanda said. “But really, poverty is a broken relationship with ourselves, God, our resources, and others. We want to alleviate poverty in these four areas. We want them to know how God feels about them and how uniquely God made them, so they can be restored with God and themselves. Then, they can figure out career wise their own personality, strengths, and how to work with others.”
At RVCLC, women have the opportunity to be a part of a one-on-one mentoring program. Through this year-long commitment, mentees meet with their mentors to pray together and create action steps to reach their goals. Mentors serve as a bridge to resources in the community as well as a bridge to a church family. Many mentees do not have a church home or feel comfortable taking that step by themselves. The guidance and presence of a mentor and a variety of Bible studies give them the confidence to attend and get plugged in. Mentors meet with their mentees an hour a week. During this time, mentors also teach their mentees how to study the Bible for themselves.
Another service that RVCLC provides is a Life Skills program. Two days a week, students are enrolled in a biblically based ten week program that is centered around teaching life skills. This includes how to work with others, computer-based skills, creating a resume, and interview training. Each skill presented is derived from the Bible.
Amanda has personally seen the Lord be faithful to their work recently through implementing this new program. With ten weeks of teaching, recruiting teachers seemed like a task too large. But she was confident that God wanted them to start the Life Skills program through His abundant provision of teachers.
“God has been drawing, calling, and equipping teachers,” Amanda said.”We had over 30 different teachers over this last semester invest in two students. Numbers don’t mean anything to God; it’s people. To see these people invest, love, and share their testimonies, skills, talent, knowledge, and time with these students, you just see God. You see Him saying I love you and you’re worth it.”
A variety of women walk through the doors of RVCLC with all unique stories. Since 2013, Amanda has seen women of multiple ages with and without children, women recovering from drugs or alcohol, and those in the hispanic community come to fulfill God’s purpose for them because of the services RVCLC provides and through God’s work.
Student, Carmen Apolinar-Juarez, has a testimony that reflects this life change. Originally from Puebla, Mexico, Carmen’s path to knowing God began through her mentor and the RVCLC program. She gained many life skills, healthy relationships and confidence throughout her time, but the most important thing she walked away with was her knowledge of how to continue her relationship with God.
“I really enjoyed meeting all the people who participated in the program because some of them shared their backstories with us about their lives and for me it was very valuable because I could relate to some of them,” Carmen said. “I thought to myself, these people are just like me. They have situations where they had to deal with problems, too. I believed that if God could make everything good in their lives, he can also do it in mine.”
Sharing a life with another can result in incredible impact.
“I wouldn’t have known what a believer’s life looked like if a believer wasn’t willing to share it with me,” Amanda said. “We have to be willing to share our lives. A lot of people just want to give something away, but how I see RVCLC work is through people giving their time, love, and biblical knowledge away.”
For a resource you can use to pray for the Arkansas CWJC/CMJC sites, click here.
For more information on CWJC click here.
For more information on CMJC click here.