Mission Bend UMC Walks ‘Side by Side’ with Women in Crisis and Changes Lives

Date Posted: 6/29/2011

Mission Bend UMC has launched a new initiative to assist women at risk. The ministry is named Side-By-Side, and its mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of women at risk. Side-By-Side is designed to walk with a client until she can gain control of her circumstances, develop a plan to maintain the process and listen to the challenges she may face along the way.


This is to be accomplished by providing and supporting committed volunteers who have a one-on-one relationship with the person at risk. The goal is to assist them in achieving their highest potential through mentoring, referral to community resources, classes on money management, family living, relationships and spiritual growth and development.


The idea for this ministry stemmed from the need to help people make it beyond their current need and work on establishing a means for long term survival. In other words, we elect to not only put a band-aid on the problem; but to also assist people by developing a plan for independent survival. The scripture reference for Side-By-Side is Titus 2:3–5: Older women, likewise, are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good. So that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. The Side-By-Side ministry is currently comprised of six ladies. An 8-week training manual was developed by a Stephen Minister.


The Stephen Minister Trainer, in conjunction with the Associate Pastor, trained the ladies for working one-on-one with the clients; to effectively interview the clients; to identify the clients’ needs; make a case for the clients; make recommendations for assistance; develop a plan of action; encourage the client; make referrals; and offer spiritual information.


The pastors make referrals to this ministry as they encounter women who are having difficulty managing their lives. Participants are mostly non-church members from the community; however, services are available to members as well. The pastors utilize their discretion in determining a means for immediate assistance and Side-By-Side interviews the clients to determine if they can effectively assist the client with long-range guidance.


The client is then assigned to a Side-by-Side volunteer, who meets with the client as needed. The objective is to stay in contact with the client to  continually encourage them to follow through with registering for resources or continuing their education to hopefully become more employable or assisting the clients in returning their lives to normalcy.


The vision for this ministry is to provide examples from life (work and/or home); assist young women without family support; provide knowledge that will enhance the client’s life; understand how to implement God’s mercy and justice at a time such as this; understand the need of the clients and help them see reality, hope and a future.


Some examples of the cases in which Side-By-Side has had the opportunity to enhance lives are:


A single mother of four young children, who escaped an abusive spouse. She is receiving encouragement and guidance from Side-By-Side. She is in school and working to hold it all together as she regroups. She was referred to a counselor who is donating her services.


A 52-year-old widow with a handicapped teenage daughter that is working diligently to survive on $1,200 per month. She has gained information and assistance with registering for qualified programs. She is also getting encouragement to help her adjust to the death of her spouse.


A 62-year-old handicapped mother of two adult bipolar children, who live with her in a home that was in the process of being in foreclosure. She needed encouragement to move forward in finding low/no cost medication, accepting the financial situation that she was in, and referrals for legal and monetary assistance.


A grandmother who is raising her grandchild is receiving care and encouragement from Side-By-Side to help them meet their financial challenges, balance emotional stress, learn life skills and develop a survival plan for their future.


Side-By-Side strives to provide knowledge, skill, wisdom and love to those who are temporarily experiencing trauma and walk with them on their journey to wholeness. God is the center of this ministry and everything that is suggested must line up with the word of God. May God be glorified in all that is done through Side-By-Side.