Mission of joy

by Carolyn Ishee

Women helping women. For some, a trendy slogan. For Vickie Arruda, founder/executive director of Pure Joy International, it is God’s calling and her life’s work.

In 1999, God gave Vickie a clear vision for ministering to missionary women overseas. Out of that vision, Pure Joy International was birthed. To date, Pure Joy International has ministered to missionary women in countries such as Senegal, Malawi, Venezuela, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Poland, Uganda, the Dominican Republic, Czech Republic, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Peru, Belize and, most recently, Italy.

An “inside out ministry,” the organization sends teams of 15 members (who pay their own way) at least two times a year to locations throughout the world to minister to missionary women for the purpose of helping missionaries/missionary families stay in the field of service to which God has called them. The four-day, three-night stay in a hotel/resort is at no cost to the 50 missionary women in attendance. Stateside churches and sponsors send materials, care packages and messages with the team, and the days are spent in fellowship, worship and free time.

The strategy of Pure Joy International is to connect local women to women missionaries around the world through retreats. The many strategies include praying, gifting, giving, Skype counseling, email counseling, the organization’s website and a weekly blog written by Vickie.

Each retreat involves Vickie finding a missionary contact in the field who works to secure a location. Each retreat has a specific theme, and materials are created, donated and gathered to support that theme. For the recently completed Italy trip, 800-1,000 hands helped ensure the trip was a reality.

According to Vickie, Pure Joy not only ministers to the missionary women overseas, but “God encourages women from local churches to involve themselves in various aspects of the ministry through prayer groups, financial sponsorships of missionary women attending and actually being a part of a team going to minister to the women missionaries through messages, worship, hospitality and media.” Hence, the “inside-out” ministry.

In the beginning, Vickie planned on going abroad and providing ministry work for the wives of area or national pastors in various countries. But, she could never identify which country; she couldn’t determine the individuals to be served. Now, she readily admits that the reason her work couldn’t gain any momentum was because it was her idea — not God’s. When she turned it over to Him, it became a reality to minister to missionaries in the field. As she was told by an early supporter, “the missionaries need it worse than they (national pastors’ wives) do, anyway.”

The work of Pure Joy International is maintained with an all-volunteer staff of eight who handle public relations, media, technology and logistics. A five-member board of directors oversees the organization, which is housed in Plumerville. Board member Patty Shipp, a board member since 2007, made her first trip as a team member to Malawi, Africa, in 2004. She said the trip “changed my life,” and she began to understand “how women that serve as missionaries need support and a connection back to a local church.” She has since made 10 additional trips, and in preparation for each trip, team members are asked to pray about everything that goes into the retreat.

Perhaps the best way to know the impact of the ministry work of Pure Joy International is to read the comments of missionary women who have attended the various retreats:

“We were in such dire need of reinforcements. Most of us knew how exhausted we were, but we did not know how to stop and regroup. Then your team showed up. To me, you were like a wave of strength that came crashing (and I do say crashing because it was an unforgettable week of powerful, encouraging, admonishing love and teaching) down upon us. So strong, that it made all of us stop in our tracks. It made us take notice that we needed this MORE THAN ANYTHING. God used you tremendously that week. Your team was a Godsend to us. When I walked out those gates, I was changed. I had truth so deep inside of me that the enemy has yet failed to throw me back into my old patterns of feeling all alone and afraid.”

Another participant wrote, “I left my house on Wednesday so dry and hungry, and God used you all to minister to me in ways I didn’t even know I needed. I returned home refreshed, transformed and full of joy. Thank you for allowing God to use you in so many ways.”

For more information about the work of Pure Joy International or to find out how to support the work, contact Vickie at 501.208.4605 or [email protected], or visit purejoyinternational.org.