Site coordinators Susie Everett, from left, Cindy Halton and Kelly Cowden congratulate Crystal Noster during Dec. 1’s Women Equipped graduation at First Baptist Church in Benton. MARY ALFORD/Arkansas Baptist News
BENTON, Ark. — After leaving an abusive 12-year relationship, Crystal Noster found herself at a shelter contemplating ending her own life.
Noster’s negative thoughts took a turn for the positive when an advocate for Women Equipped visited the shelter and told her about Christian Women’s Job Corps.
A compassion ministry of Woman’s Missionary Union, Christian Women’s Job Corps is geared toward “equipping women for life in a Christian context through career focused classes, Bible study and building meaningful relationships.”
Women Equipped, housed at First Baptist Church in Benton, is one of four Arkansas Christian Women’s Job Corps sites.
On Thursday, Dec. 1, Noster was one of 13 women to graduate the Women Equipped fall semester.
“I got back in touch with God and got confidence and self-esteem that I haven’t had most of my life,” Noster said.
One way Noster displays her passion for Christ is through creating word search puzzles. After all the words are found, Noster said she arranges it so the leftover letters spell out scripture.
Anne Johnson, Noster’s journey partner and a member at First Baptist Church in Benton, said the Christian Women’s Job Corps ministry “takes women where they are and moves them forward, strengthening them spiritually, physically and emotionally – based on God’s word.”
“It’s just a God thing,” Johnson said, describing the overall experience.
Gayla Parker, executive director for the Pregnancy Resource Center for Southwest Arkansas and adjunct professor at Ouachita Baptist University, read scripture from John 4 and provided inspirational words during Thursday’s graduation in Benton.
“Ladies, your future is bright,” Parker said. “But more than anything you’ve accomplished in these 12 weeks of learning job skills, the most important thing that you can learn is how to open your heart to Christ and allow Him to love others through you…I can’t wait to see what God does for you.”
Susie Everett, lead Christian Women’s Job Corps coordinator at the Women Equipped site, said graduates ranged in age from 20 to 60. Seven of the 13 graduates plan to pursue more education, whether that is to get their GED or go to college.
“It’s exciting for us to see,” Everett said. “God’s moving and that’s what is exciting about it.”
Christian Women’s Job Corps is for women 18 years of age and older who desire to make a life change, are willing to commit to attend classes for 12 weeks and have a willingness to work with the Women Equipped leadership and teachers to achieve goals.
Joining Noster in graduating on Thursday were Deanna “D.J.” Box, Karen Bradbury, Summer Buckley, Janeth Bustos, Misty Dupree, Genny Howard, Gwendy Mann, Doris Pinder, Haley Thompson, Lisa Trif, Peyton Wheeler and Charlotte Wooten.
Christian Women’s Job Corps sites other than Women Equipped housed at First Baptist in Benton include: Fresh Start CWJC in Roland; River Valley Life Corps in Fort Smith; and Future & Hope CWJC in Paragould.
Sites are not connected to any one church. Many churches contribute to the operation of the ministries of each Christian Women’s Job Corps location.