Farewell to Our Sister, Friend, and Colleague
General Conference Women's Ministries says goodbye to associate director Raquel Arrais.
Saying goodbye to a dear sister, friend and colleague is not easy but it is my sad task to do so. Raquel Arrais, who worked in our department since 2005 as General Conference Women’s Ministries (GCWM) associate director, accepted a call to serve in Northern Asia-Pacific Division as women’s ministries director (and director of children's, and family ministries), along with her husband Pastor Jonas Arrais, also called as director of the ministerial association and more.
Raquel has been an invaluable colleague and partner in ministry. In her travels around the world ministering to her sisters, she brings joy and spiritual encouragement both in her presentations and through her one-to-one ministry to women. We are blessed and inspired by her presentations. She shares her personal experiences without fear, showing how God works in her life and can work in our lives too. She shares her tears and laughter, and each time shining through her testimony, we see the love of God for her and the love she has for Him.
We pray that God will comfort and strengthen her as she leaves her children and grandchildren in America, and that He will give her every gift and ability she needs to serve our sisters in northern Asia. Our prayer for Raquel is a Bible promise from Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Elected in 2005 to their posts at the General Conference—Jonas as associate ministerial director—they worked 16 years at the GC. They have two sons, Tiago and Andre who are both pastors, daughters-in-law, Paula and Nathalia, and four grandchildren. Raquel grew up in a pastoral family and is a third generation Seventh-day Adventist.
She loves reading, walking, playing the piano, and collecting pictures of women's faces. She enjoys spending time with women, ministering to them, and learning from them. She desires to see more women accepting God's call and being involved with the mission of the church. Her favorite word is courage, and her favorite Bible text is Joshua 1:9.
Photos: Raquel's last day in her GCWM office. Raquel's travels in Nepal:
In 2014 Raquel carries a 42-pound bag of rice supported by her head (front right); In 2019 Raquel handles cooking for women at a meeting.
To Our Departing Women's Ministries Directors
|Euro-Asia Division||Raisa Ostrovskaya departed her position as women's ministries director for Euro-Asia Division (Moscow) where she had served 21 years. This division, covering the largest territory of the 13 world divisions, has logistical challenges with its many languages and 13 times zones. Raisa is a trained psychologist and loves poetry, music, and people. She and her husband, Ivan, have four sons, Andrew, Dmitry, Ivan, and Maksim.|
|Inter-American Division||Melba Dinorah Rivera, a commissioned minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, is retired from her position as women's ministries director in Inter-American Division (Miami, Florida) where she served since 2015, and since 2010 as children's ministries director. Prior to that she was associate director of children's ministries from 2005-2010. She has studied organizational leadership and other disciplines, but her highest qualification is being chosen by God to be His servant. Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Dinorah is married to Edwin C Rivera, an independent video producer, and is mother of four and a grandmother of five beautiful children. She enjoys writing, watching the sunset, honesty, different cultures, a full moon, the splendor of the sea, and time alone with God.|
|North American Division||Carla Baker retired February 2020. She had served as women's ministries director in North American Division (Washington, D.C. metro area) since 2005. Previously she served at the Southwestern Union Conference for 11 years. While division director, she developed women's ministries resources for the local church, including three DVD Bible study series: Journey of Joy: Healthy Emotions and Holy Hearts; Surprised by Love; Pursued. She also led the video recording project for Women's Leadership Certification Level 1.|
|Northern Asia-Pacific Division||Lisa Clouzet departed May 2021 from her position as women's, children's, and family ministries director and associate ministerial director (chaplaincy, ministerial spouses) since 2016 in Northern Asia-Pacific Division (Seoul metro area).|
|South American Division||Marli Peyerl served as women’s ministries director and associate ministerial director (ministerial spouses) from 2015-2021 for South American Division (Brasilia). Although she earned a music degree and taught music to children for ten years, she accepted the call to serve as director of women’s ministries (eleven years) and children’s ministries (nine years) at the union level in central Brazil. Currently, she is director of children’s and adolescents’ ministries in West Parana Conference.|
South Pacific Division
|Danijela Schubert, departed May 31, 2021. She had been working with women's ministries at South Pacific Division (Sydney) since 2015, serving as disciple team member for women in Australia. She had also served as associate division secretary and assistant to the division president. She earned a doctorate of ministry degree and two master's degrees. She served as Head of Religion Department in Pakistan, Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in Papua New Guinea, published three books, and written for many other publications. She was born in the Mediterranean city of Pula, Croatia. With her husband Branimir, whom she met in a Seventh-day Adventist boarding school, she lived in France, the Philippines, and Australia before her employment with the Church began. They have two adult sons.|
|Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division||Caroline Chola completed her role as women's and children's ministries director of Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division (near Johannesburg), June 30, 2021. She served in the same roles at both the union and conference level in her native Zambia. Her passion is to see other people reach their potential. She loves gardening and singing. She is married to Habson and they have four adult sons and two grandchildren.|
|Southern Asia-Pacific Division||Helen Bocala-Gulfan retired January 31, 2021. She served as women's ministries director and coordinator for ministerial spouses (Shepherdess) for the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (near Manila) since 2010. Her background is in finance and accounting. She loves to uphold, encourage, and challenge women in their pilgrimage as disciples of Jesus Christ and to nurture clergy spouses and children. She and her late husband Alberto (former president of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division) have three children and two grandchildren.|
|Trans-European Division||Clair Sanches retired August 31, 2021. She served as women's and children's ministries director of Trans-European Division (near London) since 2010 and family ministries (until 2015). She is from the Netherlands where she was director of women's, children's, and family ministries. She loves making crafts, greeting cards, knitting, reading, and meeting people. Her favorite verse is Hebrews 4:15. She and her husband, John, have two adult sons, Dexter and Daryl.|
|Chinese Union Mission||Joyce Ng retired from her duties as women's ministries director for Chinese Union Mission (Hong Kong) December 31, 2021. She had been working in the Chinese Union women's and children's ministries since 2005. She was born and received her education in Hong Kong. She quit her work when her first son was born. She has been a home school teacher for seven years. She loves Chinese calligraphy, painting, and hiking with her family. She and her husband, Ming Sham, have two adult children, Caleb and Eunice.|
To Our New Women's Ministries Directors
|Euro-Asia Division||Oksana Kulaga, women’s ministries director for Euro-Asia Division (Moscow), served most recently as women's ministries director and ministerial spouses coordinator (Shepherdess), and also cashier in Central Ukrainian Conference. She studied electron physics and her hobby is landscape gardening. Her husband, Vyacheslav, is publishing ministries director for Euro-Asia Division. They have three sons, Alexander, 25, who is married, Eduard, 20, who is a student, and Vladislav, 18, who is also a student.|
|Inter-American Division||Edith Ruiz de Espinoza, women's and children's ministries director for Inter-American Division (Miami, Florida), has served the church as women’s, children’s, and family ministries director, and coordinator for ministerial spouses (Shepherdess International) in both the conference and union levels in Mexico. With a bachelor’s degree in educational psychology from Montemorelos University, she’s also been high school teacher, counselor, and guidance and tutoring director. Edith is married to Pastor Isaias Espinoza, and they have two daughters, Sarai and Rachel, both married, and a grandson, Rubén Isaias. She likes to write, travel, and exercise. Her greatest desires are to build a God-fearing family, serve Jesus at all times, and to see His soon return.|
|North American Division||DeeAnn Bragaw, women’s ministries director for North American Division (Washington DC metro area), served most recently as women’s ministries director and prayer coordinator of Rocky Mountain Conference (Colorado). Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, she has also served with her husband Paul in Caspar, Boulder, Franktown Brighton, and Campion. They have two sons. She began her duties in the summer of 2021.|
|Northern Asia-Pacific Division||Raquel Arrais, women's, children's, and family ministries director for Northern Asia-Pacific Division (Seoul metro area), was born in Brazil and worked for 20 years in her home country as educator and administrator before serving as director of women's and children's ministries director and associate director for ministerial spouses (Shepherdess) for the South American Division before serving 16 years as associate director in women's ministries at the General Conference. She holds a bachelor's degree in education and earned a master's degree in pastoral ministry in 1997 from Andrews University (Michigan, USA). She has completed her coursework for a master's degree in Arabic Studies from Middle East University (Beirut, Lebanon), and is currently writing her thesis.|
|South American Division||Jeanete Lima De Souza Pinto, women’s ministries director for South American Division (Brasilia), has served as served in women’s, children’s, family, and health ministries, education department, and coordinator for ministerial spouses (Shepherdess International) on the conference and union level since 2005. She was a professor, educational counselor, and pedagogic coordinator in Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba, Brazil from 1991-2005, and 2007-2009. Born in Juazeiro, Bahia, Jeanete holds a degree in pedagogy and earned a master’s degree in educational management from Chile Adventist University, along with postgraduate study in family and educational counseling.|
|South Pacific Division||Jane Gibson (not pictured) is LIAISON for women's ministries in South Pacific Division (Sydney).|
|Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division||Margery Hernirina, women's and children's ministries director for Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division (near Johannesburg), has served in these positions across different countries and territories for 15 years. She began leading in the Mauritius Conference and most recently served as women's and children's ministries director for Indian Ocean Union Conference (Antananarivo, Madagascar). Born in Mauritius, but currently residing in South Africa, she is passionate about preaching the gospel of God's transformative love with others. She enjoys traveling, as she likes exploring new cultures and meeting new people. She has two adult children, Uriel and Yasmina, who are also both involved in church ministry.|
|Southern Asia-Pacific Division||Virginia "Virgie" Baloyo, became women’s ministries director for Southern Asia-Pacific Division (near Manila) in 2021, and continues as family ministries director, a position she's held since 2015. For many years she served as director for women’s, children’s, and family ministries at the conference and union level. She has served the church since 1988 in various capacities including magazine editor, college assistant professor, TV anchor and radio speaker for Voice of Hope and Adventist World Radio Asia. Married to Pastor Rudy Baloyo, executive secretary of Southern Asia-Pacific Division, they have three young adult children; two are nurses, one is an English teacher. Virgie’s life’s motto is "Available," in relation to Isaiah 6:8, “Here am I! Send me” (NKJV).|
|Trans-European Division||Karen Holford, became women’s and children's ministries director for Trans-European Division (near London), but also serves as family ministries director, a position she’s held since 2015. She earned a master's degree in leadership from Andrews University in 2020. She and her pastor husband, Bernie, served as directors of family ministries on the conference level. In the summer of 2021, Karen and Bernie walked from coast to coast across the north of England—192 miles in 13 days. They have daughter Bethany (married with three children) and two sons, Nathan (married), and Joel. She enjoys writing and has published books and articles on family life, relationships, parenting, and creative worship. She also enjoys developing prayer experiences and devotional activities for women.|
|Chinese Union Mission||Nickey Shum is coordinator of women's, children's, and family ministries, and director of health ministries for Chinese Union Mission (Hong Kong).|
For Our Continuing Women's Ministries Directors
|East-Central Africa Division||Debbie Maloba is director of women's and children's ministries in East-Central Africa Division (Nairobi, Kenya). She loves empowering women, mentoring young women, ministering to children, traveling and reading. She holds a master's degree in public health. Her favorite Bible text is Jeremiah 1:5 and her favorite word is "Peace." She and her husband, Jim, have three daughters and two sons.|
|Inter-European Division||Dagmar Dorn became women's ministries director in Inter-European Division (Bern, Switzerland) in 2018. She was active in Women's Ministries in the team of the German Swiss Conference for 20 years. She knows Women's Ministries from the grass-roots level, and her interest in mission led her to spend time in missionary service in Papua New Guinea Ethiopia, and other places. Dagmar is a nurse and midwife BSc and continues to work part-time in the obstetric ward in Buelach hospital (Canton of Zurich).|
|Southern Asia Division||Premila Masih was a teacher for 26 years and served as ministerial spouses coordinator (Shepherdess) at the union level before coming to her role as division director of women's ministries in Southern Asia Division (Hosur, India), a position which she's held since 2010. She and her pastor husband, Hidayat, (vice president of the Southern Asia Division) have two children and one grandchild. Her passion is meeting women and making friends for Jesus.|
|West-Central Africa Division||Omobonike Adeola Sessou loves her work as women's and children's ministries director in West-Central Africa Division (Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire), a position she's held since 2010. She is currently a PhD candidate in organizational leadership and holds a master's degree in leadership with a background in religion and biology. She authored a book titled Lord, Make Me a Virtuous Woman and enjoys teaching and preaching, empowering women, and mentoring young ladies. She and her pastor husband, Sessou Kwasi Selom, love to spend time with their three children.|
|Middle East and North Africa Union Mission||Amal Botrous is liaison for women's, children's, and family ministries at Middle East and North African Union Mission (Jdeidet El-Metn, Beirut, Lebanon), and also serves as the union's executive administrative assistant. Born and raised in Assiut, Egypt, she also served with her husband Ashraf Fawzy at Nile Union Academy, Cairo, Egypt. They have two children, Remon and Yasmeen. Amal began her duties in late 2014.|
|Israel Field||Cristina Sandulache is the women's ministries coordinator in Israel Field (Jerusalem).|
By the Numbers
NEW: 9 divisions, 1 attached field
SAME: 4 divisions, 2 attached fields
Published in Mosaic newsletter, 2022 Q1 Winter issue