Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Confronting Abuse through Faith

Ophelia Araujo-Islas stands as a commanding witness of God’s strength to the powerless, hope to the abused, and grace to the outcasts. She speaks forcefully, not with doctrines or creeds, but with moral authority born of her own journey through abuse, addiction, and despair. She freely shares the story of her own transformation with others, offering a message of hope to women who suffer abuse.

Ophelia is Associate Director of A.R.M.S., Abuse Recovery Ministry and Services, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing education, validation, and support to abused women, based on Christian principles. She describes her mission with conviction, “We’re bringing the truth about abuse and how God wants women to be treated.” She says many Christians misunderstand or misrepresent Biblical teachings regarding the submissive role of women, overlooking verses that admonish women and men to submit to each other (Ephesians 5:21).

“We’re all equal in the eyes of the Lord,” she says.

She readily credits the sustaining hand of God in all she does, but also acknowledges daily challenges to her work. Changing the world is never easy. Some challenges are internal, such as her awareness of weaknesses and failings in her own personality. Other challenges are external. For example, she describes confronting machismo in her native Hispanic culture, and ignorance within the Christian community. She says many people don’t recognize the extent of abuse in their churches and communities, and others simply do not wish to share power with women on an equal footing.

In spite of obstacles, Ophelia carries her mission with conviction and love.

A.R.M.S. offers a variety of services around the issue of abuse. For example, the organization sponsors a 15 week program called “Her Journey,” where abused women gather in “healing circles” for mutual caring and support. In some cases, they also refer clients to outside counselors who deal specifically with issues related to abuse.

They also offer education and training for pastors who address issues of domestic violence in their congregations. She says many church leaders simply do not know how to effectively intervene when they suspect abuse. As a result, women and children continue to suffer needlessly.

The Spokane chapter of A.R.M.S. hopes to eventually expand their program to include a group for perpetrators of abuse known as “Mankind,” dedicated to teaching men alternatives to violence.

A.R.M.S. in Spokane currently hopes to raise money and awareness in order to expand program offerings. They are planning a conference, a benefit dinner, and other public events. As those plans solidify, Paqspya will offer more details to the public.

For more information, contact Ophelia at:


or (509) 484-0600.

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