Women's Ministries Congress

Women’s Ministries Congress | Touch a Heart Tell the World

Chosen to Make a Difference

East-Central Africa Division (ECD)

The first lady of the Republic of Rwanda, HE Jeanette Kagame, opened the East-Central Africa Division Women’s Ministries congress in the National University of Rwanda in August. She urged the 2,000 women from 11 countries to work and walk their theme, “Chosen to Make a Difference,” and stressed that the congress should be a golden opportunity to assess what they are doing because setting a goal is one thing and reaching it is another. She concluded by reminding women of their important role in society, making reference to a Rwandan saying, “A woman is the heart beat of the family.”

Raquel Arrais, GC WM associate director, reminded the women all have been chosen to make a difference in our calling and urged them to respond in commitment.

Before the conclusion of the congress, participants visited Murambi Genocide Memorial Site. The ladies laid flowers on the tomb where about 50,000 are buried. At the end of the tour, the delegates donated US $2,000 to support the improvement of the site.

There was also time for participants to show their handwork activities, various products, and business oriented commodities.

By Debbie Maloba, ECD WM director and congress organizer



Community Outreach Takes Center Stage

Inter-America Division (IAD)

“We are called to serve, and when the Lord calls you to serve, don’t let anyone convince you that because you’re a woman, things are to be different,” Israel Leito, IAD president, told the 600 Adventist women leaders gathered in Miami in August. “Women bring strength to the mission. Don’t let your sensitiveness, your thoughtfulness, your compassionate spirit, your caring attitude, and your strong emotions be seen as a weakness.”

During the event, 44 outstanding women were recognized for their leadership in evangelism. Cecilia Iglesias, IAD WM director, appealed to leaders to continue their vision of letting the world know of Jesus’ love. 

Women in IAD take seriously the challenge of connecting with others outside of their churches and a result of their work is seen in more than 22,000 newly baptized members in March this year.

Heather-Dawn Small, GC WM director, urged women to get out of their comfort  zones and reach people in the communities. She reminded the women to raise awareness and advocate for the end of violence towards women and children through the enditnow  initiative.

By Cecilia Iglesias, IAD WM director and congress organizer


Top pic: Evangelist Mildred Robinson of St Thomas is honored by Cecilia Iglesias forleading 3,000 new members to Jesus

Bottom pic:  Consecration of Women’s Ministries leaders

Focus on the News

Focus on the News

“Sisters, we may do a noble work for God if we will. There is a higher purpose for woman, a grander destiny. She should develop and cultivate her powers, for God can employ them in the great work of saving souls from eternal ruin.” Ellen G White


Advisory Meeting in Kazakhstan

Euro-Asia Division (ESD)


WM local leaders from ESD Southern Union Conference

“You're God's Idea, Arise and Shine!” was the theme of the Women’s Ministries congress in June in Almaty, Kazakhstan. 

Dressed in national costumes, delegates from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan greeted each other and sang a hymn they had composed, emphasizing the identity of each woman as a beloved daughter of God. Prayers were raised for women in each country; each faces unique challenges. There was also a special prayer for Afghanistan.




Raisa Ostrovskaya, ECD WM director, emphasized that a goal of ECD WM is to encourage women to maintain a balanced life. Raquel Arrais, GC WM associate director, represented the General Conference.





Itinerary Highlights in SPD

South Pacific Division (SPD)

Raquel Arrais, GC WM associate director, and Erna Johnson, SPD WM director, began an itinerary in Sydney with a conference attended by more than 300 women. The theme was “This is Our Time.”

In Auckland, New Zealand, they met with a large group of women. Raquel’s message emphasized our need for the Holy Spirit.

Women from all the islands of French Polynesia gathered on the island of Huahine to catch the Women’s Ministries vision for the future. All were encouraged to go forward, unafraid to use their God-given gifts and talents.


Anti-Abuse Campaigns in SAD

South American Division (SAD)

Thousands of Adventists took to the streets in August as activists against abuse in the “Breaking the Silence” campaign. The Abuse Prevention Emphasis Day, now called enditnow Day, has been highlighted in SAD since its 2001 launch. Local campaigns were reported by media outlets in more than a dozen cities.

In Montevideo, Uruguay, TV news reported live as 500 Adventists stood at traffic intersections with tape over their mouths to represent those who suffer abuse and are afraid to speak up. In Peru, the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Ana Jara Velasquez, joined the Women’s Ministries leaders’ campaign.

In Brazil, several marches were also held in April and May. This year’s campaigns partnered with top officials in municipal and federal governments. Lectures in Piraquara, Paraná, drew nearly 2,500 students. Adventists also distributed thousands of fliers on abuse awareness.

Top pic: Bolivia, "Breaking the Silence" live TV report

Bottom pic: Uruguay, "Breaking the Silence", blockade



Special Gratitude for Ardis Stenbakken

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”  Psalm 107:1


Special Gratitude for Ardis Stenbakken

The 2015 Women’s Devotional will carry the editor’s name of Ardis Stenbbaken for the last time. She laid down her editorial pen at the end of July, 2013. The 2015 volume is the seventeenth devotional bearing her name. She began her relationship with the devotional in 1999 as associate editor. Her first book as editor is the 2000 devotional, In God’s Garden.

When Ardis retired as Women’s Ministries Director in 2004, she moved to Colorado with her husband Richard, but her heart remained with the Women’s Devotional. She continued to edit the annual devotional from her home near the Rocky Mountains.

Ardis arrived in Women’s Ministries in 1994, writing, and directing the literacy and scholarship programs. In 1995 she was coordinator of the Year of the Adventist Woman, and was chosen as Associate Director at the Annual Council that year, shortly after Women’s Ministries was organized as a department at the General Conference Session in Utrecht, The Netherlands. She was elected Director of Women’s Ministries in October, 1997.

In 2002, Ardis was chosen by Andrews University as one of the 100 Outstanding Women of the Century.

Richard Stenbakken, her husband, is a retired pastor. He served almost 24 years as a chaplain in the U.S. Army before retiring from the military. He was director of all the chaplaincy ministries for the Seventh-day Adventist Church from 1994 to 2004. They have two grown children, both married, and four grandchildren (two boys, two girls).

The Stenbakkens love to write and present dramatic presentations of Biblical characters. They lead a drama team, New Reflections, at Campion Academy in Loveland, Colorado. Active in her home church, Ardis served as head elder for two years, and currently serves as Communications Director at Campion Adventist Church.

Ardis longs for time to enjoy neglected hobbies, quilting and painting. She also hopes to have time to read more and do cross-stitching (needlework).



2014 Women’s Devotional


A good health habit is doing daily breathing exercises: fast, aerobic breaths and slow, deep-centered breaths.

Another beneficial habit is daily reading of God’s Word. We suggest reading today’s devotional while doing deep breathing. This habit flushes out toxic mind chatter while infusing the heart with divine inspiration.

Breathe, the women’s daily devotional for 2014, is now available at your local Adventist Book Center. Your purchase of the women’s devotional directly fundsscholarships to help Adventist women around the world obtain higher education.

To order online, go towww.adventistbookcenter.com   or www.rhpa.org




“My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.” Exodus 33:14,The Message Bible


Welcome, Carolyn Sutton!

Love for my Savior  is the unseen first line on my resume,” says Carolyn Sutton,newly appointed editor for the Women’s Devotional. “That is because He has never given up on me and has been merciful to me more than I ever deserved.”

“Most of my daily life has been to put one foot in front of the other,” she says, adding that she finds herself “running ahead of God...and the result is workaholism, pride, worry, and discouragement.” But Carolyn has also repeatedly experienced God’s grace in her life—especially during the aftermath of an unexpected divorce and later while battling cancer.

Carolyn has a long and distinguished resume of writing, editing Guide magazine, authoring seven books, representing Adventist World Radio with her husband Jim, producing and co-hosting a television program, speaking for Women’s Ministries retreats and other inspirational events, serving with various ministries in her home church, and working as missionary and educator.

However, the best skill set she has developed for shaping a daily devotional book for women (just like herself) is her own deep desire to reflect on God’s faithfulness and to meet daily with her Lord.




Songs for My Sisters

Benefit Concert

This year GC Women’s Ministries celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the Women’s Scholarship Program. The program will present classical musicians including instrumental, choral, and a solo vocalist.

The goal for the concert is to raise $20,000 in pledges and donations to help Adventist women attend college.

At the concert, a special scholarship fund will be inaugurated in memory of Dorothy Eaton Watts, philanthropist, author, and missionary, who had a heart for women. She was the second departmental director of GC Women’s Ministries.




Revival and Reformation





Discipleship Ministry


“After individuals have been converted to the truth, they need to be looked after....These newly converted ones need nursing, —watchful attention, help, and  encouragement. These should not be left alone, a prey to Satan’s most powerful temptations; they need to be educated in regard to their duties, to be kindly dealt with, to be led along, and to be apportioned to every man in due season.” Ellen G White, Evangelism, p. 351


DISCIPLESHIP MINISTRY offers friendship, instruction, and support with the goal of integrating new members into the life of the congregation. Studies show that people need to have at least five friends in a church or organization before they feel at home and are willing to stay. An important part of discipleship ministry is helping new members to grow in Christ.

IDEAS:  Form a committee responsible for effective integration of new members. Be sure every new member is “friended” by a person in the congregation. Be sure each new member is visited once a week during the first month, then once a month forthe first year. Hold a banquet once or twice a year to introduce new members to the congregation. Invite new members to participate in a small group for intentional spiritual growth. Share special books, such as women’s devotionals, Spirit of Prophecy books, or church magazines.

To download the Ministry Series Brochures, go to women.adventist.org




Prayer Corner

  • New leaders
  • It is Time: Mission to the Cities
  • 10 Days of Prayer
  • Abuse Summit: enditnow.org



November 15  International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women

November 19  World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse

December 1  World AIDS Day

December 3  International Day of Persons with Disabilities

February 3  Statistical reports due to GCWM office


Inspiration for You: Women Create Inspiring Services

Inspiration for You

“Women can be instruments of righteousness, rendering holy service to God. It was Mary who first preached a risen Saviour.” Ellen G White


Women Create Inspiring Services

We attend many women’s events, retreats, congresses, conferences when we travel from the General Conference to visit our sisters in the world church. Recently, I’ve participated in several deeply moving experiences during women’s events. I hope that as women in the church and leaders, you will be inspired and motived by these stories, and in turn, will inspire and motivate our sisters.


This group of islands is located in the blue waters of the Caribbean. Our sisters met for a women’s retreat in September at a large hotel. The retreat planners wanted to help the ladies share in a time of spiritual and emotional nurturing on the final day of the retreat. It was suggested to hold a foot washing service during the closing Consecration Service, but how could that be done in a hotel conference room? After much prayer and discussion, the retreat planners decided to have the foot washing service, but instead of using bowls of water, they used anti-bacterial wipes. Women “washed” the feet or hands of their partners by wiping. Then using small bottles of hotel lotion, they massaged the hands or feet of their partners.

It was an emotionally moving and spiritual time, but also a time of caring and nurturing. And it was a time of humility for each of us as we ministered to our sisters.

Guayaquil, Ecuador

I visited Ecuador in October. Our Friday evening program opened the Sabbath with another inspiring service. The theme for the retreat was “Women with a Heart Like God.”  On entering the church from the back, we looked down the aisle toward the podium and saw a beautifully laid table in the shape of a

cross displaying the trays of communion bread and “wine.” The communion bread was shaped like a heart and served on specially made clay plates. The “wine” was served in small clay cups with the theme of the weekend engraved on the side. Other items adorned the tables, including a crown of thorns, a seven-branched candlestick, loaves of bread, and bunches of grapes. I’m amazed at the creativity of our sisters, but even more so by the way our sisters around the world are open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives as God blesses them through their ministry. Let us continue to grow in our relationship with God and share that experience with women around us both in the church and in the community.

We’d love to share your experiences, so please email them to us with pictures, if possible, at [email protected].

By Heather-Dawn Small, GC WM director

Pic top left: Heather-Dawn Small, Director, GC Women’s Ministries