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St Ann ministry providing spiritual, emotional support for women

BY RENAE DIXON
Staff reporter
dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, December 17, 2017

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When the Proclaiming: Beauty For Ashes Women's Ministry hosted its prayer breakfast in celebration of its seventh anniversary earlier this month, over 80 women from several parishes attended.

The large turnout was seen as an indication of the impact the ministry has been having on the lives of women who have gone through different experiences, by providing them with not just an avenue to speak of what they are going through but to also provide support to overcome various challenges.

Founder and director of the ministry, Paula Forbes-Lofters said it was born out of her own experiences and a desire to help women facing similar situations. The educator of 39 years who culminated her career as an education officer, said she was inspired by God to start the ministry that will help women of various social standings in society.

“The ministry was birth out of experiences with issues so common to us women, and in a bid to share with other women who have had or were having similar experiences. The call was answered to have women from different sectors of society, facing the same issues, to meet together with one common aim — establishing a different kind of support group,” Forbes-Lofters stated.

She said the annual conferences, hosted during the Easter season, provides an environment for women to have real conversations as they stand before God, and that women needing a listening ear and motivation receive just that.

“Our mission is for women with a common goal to work together in fostering a fresh awareness of God's empowerment — even if broken and in despair — striving to be healed, delivered and restored to serve,” she explained the mission of the ministry.

She said that women who are able to serve others while experiencing brokenness have started their own healing process by helping people.

Forbes-Lofters said that while the conferences have been focused on uplifting women, men who attend are not turned away. She said the conferences in no way bash men, but provide an avenue for women to share and to overcome struggles.

Ministers of religion, doctors, psychologists and counsellors are among the many speakers who address the women at the annual conferences.

“The ladies always look forward to it. They take their sisters, their mothers, their aunts and cousins when they are coming,” she said, explaining that over the last seven years the numbers have increased consistently as women continue to encourage others to attend.

“They come because they feel they can get some form of restoration and healing… people who are down and depressed, they have come,” she added.

She explained that women who may not have personal problems attend to offer their support to other women.

The ministry also has an outreach arm which is now focused on the women's centre in St Ann.

“We just want to continue to work hard and do good,” Forbes-Lofters said.

She explained that the ministry is non-denominational and is even open to non-Christians

Forbes-Lofters said that she works closely with other women in the ministry for the planning and success of all activities. These include her twin sister Paulette Forbes-Wickham, Carlene Harrison, Jean Fisher and Minister Nordia Smith.

“Advisors to the group include Rev Sharon Prince-Hudson, Dr Cherrilyn Henry and Pauline Lynch,” she said.

The recent prayer breakfast was also used to launch Forbes-Lofters' book, Inspirational Thoughts: For your Journey. Forbes-Lofters, who has co-authored other works, said that the book was her first solo work.

The educator and motivational speaker said she was encouraged to write the book after years of sharing inspirational thoughts with persons, including women involved in the ministry.

The book shares a number of inspirational thoughts which were written by her, often during her devotions with God.

Women who have visited the conferences describe them as enriching and a blessing to them.

“I have no regrets being here,” one woman stated.

“It's a blessing bringing women together in a spiritual way,” another stated.

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