Sandy Stewart admits she was intimidated by Proverbs 31 as a young girl.
It was one word that seemed to halt her — virtuous.
“For years, I was intimidated by that chapter in the Bible. I didn’t know what the word virtuous meant. I thought it was someone who was prim and proper and didn’t ruffle any feathers and here I was the Mexican girl who was loud,” she laughs.
For those who know Stewart, she fits the description of a virtous woman.
“When I actually studied it for myself, what it means to be a virtous woman, I found that in Hebrew, it means a mighty army. That is the way God sees us (women), as a mighty army and I thought, “Hey, this is a girl I can get on board with.”
Stewart’s dedication to living a virtous life isn’t so much a Scripture as it is a lifestyle.
“My passion is that every woman understands her value and we all have a contribution to make on this planet,” she said. “If we can set aside our differences and insecurities, women can be a force to change this world.”
Her involvement in her church has helped channel her energies and dedication. Stewart, and her husband, Russ, moved here from California in 2007 to begin Stephens County Worship Center.
And as of Nov. 13, a new Women’s Ministry group was formed, the SCWC Chicks, with the actual Bible study group title as “Flourish” — open to women of all ages. They will meet the second Saturday of every month.
“We just want to create an atmosphere where girls could gather and grow themselves in God and be themselves,” she said.
Stewart explained that “flourish” means to grow luxuriantly and to thrive. The positive word she believes, will definitely help the group grow. And because the church is still small, with only about 40 members, the Women’s Ministry is something that Stewart hopes is something for all women, no matter their age or church preference.
“As women, God created us to be relational, to learn from each other and encourage each other and walk this journey of life,” she said. Assisting Stewart is Ruby De La Rosa.
Stewart isn’t new to Women’s Ministry. She brings experience from a church of more than 1,500 members, which is small by California standards, she said. At that church, she was the assistant women’s ministry director and director of Young Women’s Ministry for ages 18-30. More than 800 women were involved in the Women’s Ministry program in California. The Stewarts were there from 1999 to 2006. Now as much as she misses California, Stewart sees her purpose and path is in Duncan.
“Flourish is just the beginning. I’m excited, and look forward to having our own women’s conference in Duncan, and just have a great time in God.”
Spreading the word, SCWC was a vendor at Duncan Chamber of Commerce’s Holiday Gifts & Glitz event to show its jewelry line. Stewart said it was extremely successful, with more than half of their product selling on that one day. And it was a chance to tell people why they were selling jewelry. The proceeds will help the ministry with its new mission.
“We have partnered with Victory Christian Center in Oklahoma City, and the Beautiful Dream Society they established. They are building a home in Lesotho, Africa, where they are rescuing children from the sex trafficking industry,” Stewart said.
Stewart said that each year, several women from Duncan attend the VCC Women’s Conference, and this year, they learned of the efforts in Africa to rescue orphaned children from the sex trafficking industry.
“We really got a passion to try to make a difference,” she said. Statistically, Lesotho, Africa, has the third highest HIV/AIDS infection rate in the world and the second highest death rate of any country in the world. Stewart said that 23.2 percent of the adult population are affected and many children are left orphaned.
“That makes it easy for people to come in and exploit these children. What Beautiful Dream Society does is restoring dignity and let the children know that not everyone is here to hurt you. They actually have a group of people from Oklahoma City and Texas who have left everything to go there and start this and get this off the ground.”
“We just fell in love with this project, we can’t go to Lesotho, but we could do something in Duncan and make a difference.”
And that ties back into Proverbs 31, she said.
“One of my favorite Scriptures is Proverbs 31: 8-9, ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute and speak up and judge fairly, defend the rights of the poor and the needy.’ That’s why we want to make a difference,” she said.
As for a Scripture that describes Stewart’s passion, she turns to Proverbs 31:10, ‘A woman’s value is far worth more than rubies and pearls.’
“It’s a blueprint for women and just reminds us of how amazing and how valuable we are,” she said.
“I believe as women, God has put us here to make a difference. We can’t go out into the world, but we are all given a corner of the world and can make a difference in our corner of the world.”
There are also plans to reach out to women in prison and jail.
“Everybody deserves a second chance. Just because they are there doesn’t mean it’s the end.”
— Toni Hopper is a reporter for The Duncan Banner. She can be reached at 580-255-5354, Ext. 132 or by e-mail at: email@example.com.