“The brevity of life and the inevitability of death should cause men to pursue noble and worthwhile goals.” – Bishop Charles E. Blake
As women, we sometimes have a tough time balancing our different roles on a daily basis: wife, mother, career woman, daughter, sister, and friend. Adding to the list can start to unravel our already harried lives.
But Los Angeles resident Jacques McNeil is finding that balance by weaving family and friends into ministry and discipleship. A West Angeles member for over 30 years, McNeil has found a support system within the church, serving in various ministries including the Young Women’s Christian Council, the Overcomers Sunday School Class, and the Evangelism Department.
Now an aspiring Evangelist Missionary, McNeil is founder of W.I.T.N.E.S.S. Book Club, a Christian women’s group with a two-fold purpose: to encourage women to live victorious, Godly lives through studying the bible and reading books by Christian authors, and to create sisterhood among its members. “WITNESS” is an acronym for “Women Inspired Through Networking Elements, Sister To Sister”.
McNeil is an Instructional Designer with UCLA Health Systems, and also works alongside her husband, Elder David McNeil, at 1 Soul At A Time Ministries. Through their work at 1 Soul, they merge their expertise, skills and anointing to serve as consultants to both individuals and organizations, offering support in a variety of service areas including leadership, ministry and business development, customer service, and conflict resolution. They are the proud parents of one beautiful and brilliant daughter, Micaela.
We spent some time with Mrs. McNeil who shared with us her testimony and journey:
Q: How did your family upbringing and Midwestern roots shape the woman you’ve become? I was born and raised in Canton, Ohio and I was the third of four children. My childhood was amazing. Family gatherings at our home were a central part of life. There was much fun, laughter and a diverse group of family and friends who I had the pleasure of learning from. We attended Shiloh Baptist church as a family, and during evening services, we attended Pentecost Temple COGIC, where Elder Lee Nucklos was Pastor, and my grandmother was an intercessor and Mother of the Church.
My parents instilled in my siblings and me the importance of serving those less fortunate, and they were intentional about exposing us to various cultures. My parents were extremely active in our church and in our community. That really inspired me to also be compassionate, to be at ease with diversity, and to have faith in the impossible. At the age of 13, my parents moved to Los Angeles, due to my father’s health challenges. So my experiences in both [cities] have really shaped every aspect of who I am today.
Q: How did you choose West Angeles as your place of worship? Several years after my family moved to Los Angeles we started attending West Angeles Church of God In Christ. I was 20 and in college when I was led to rededicate my life to The Lord and to become a member of West Angeles. The “West Angeles Experience” was unlike anything I had ever encountered in my life. The music, the programs, the members, and Bishop’s unique style of teaching the Word of God in a way that was relatable, truly ministered to me.
Regardless of your story, God loves you and has amazing things in store for you.
Q: You founded W.I.T.N.E.S.S. Book Club back in 1995, but a few years ago, you had an experience which shifted the work of the group’s ministry. Please share that story with us. In January 2008, I awakened with an idea to deliver sack lunches to people on Skid Row. Our daughter Micaela was 6 years old at the time, and I wanted to introduce her to the importance of serving and giving to those less fortunate. She and I prepared the lunches and, with my husband David, we went to Skid Row to hand them out.
We distributed between 20-25 lunches that day, and the very last lunch handed out was to a young woman. As I handed it to her, she asked if I had any sanitary products, which I did not. She then said, “They give us diapers for that time of the month.” I was so appalled. The women seemed to feel totally degraded. I immediately told the story to the members of W.I.T.N.E.S.S., and suggested that we create personal hygiene gift bags to be distributed on Skid Row on Mother’s Day weekend.
We purchased various items, including feminine products, deodorant, tooth paste, and witnessing tracts, and we prepared 35 beautiful gift bags to deliver to the women that year.
Since its inception, this program has grown exponentially. We now receive corporate donations annually, and this year we were able to create nearly 500 “Bags of Love,” as we call them now. We not only delivered them to women on Skid Row, but to female veterans at the Veterans’ Administration in Westwood, and to women who live in Councilman Curren Price’s 9th District, the lowest-income district in Los Angeles. This year, thanks to the outpouring of donations and support, we were able to include Bibles in the bags as well. God is good and it’s an honor to be a vessel to bless His children.
Q: Has being a part of West Angeles helped you grow spiritually? If so, how? Yes! By being an active member of West Angeles, I have grown in ways that I never imagined. Whether attending Sunday School, PCL, Bible College, 6 a.m. Prayer, Shut-In’s, Pastor’s Teaching; witnessing on the streets of LA, on Skid Row, at Convalescent homes, transition homes; or praying, fasting, reading and studying the word of God, my spiritual growth since becoming a member has been constant and enjoyable, and it has equipped me to stand amidst life’s challenges and trials. As a result of the ministry here at West Angeles, the love and consistency of Bishop and Sister Blake, and the excellence in which everything is executed here at West Angeles, I have been challenged to launch my own ministry, and to be a living witness to share the good news of Jesus Christ to everyone I meet.
Q: What parting words would you share with other women who are looking to make a change in their lives, but do not know where to start? To quote Bishop Blake, “The brevity of life and the inevitability of death should cause men to pursue noble and worthwhile goals.” I believe we are all born with and for a purpose. We all have unique gifts, talents and specific God-ordained goals to accomplish, and because of the brevity of life, we really only have a short window of time to accomplish these goals, and to impact the lives of those in our circle of influence. I live my life with this at the forefront of my mind. All that I do on a daily basis should reflect that I have spent time with the Lord, and bring glory to God.
I enjoy and am passionate about the things that I am called to do, and that alone makes it all worthwhile. In parting, I would like to remind my sisters in Christ that they are fearfully and wonderfully made, in God’s image. Regardless of their “story,” God loves them and He has amazing things in store for them and for them to do. There is someone, somewhere, waiting to hear your story, to receive your words of encouragement, and to be blessed by your business acumen or parenting skills.
My sisters, be intentional about seeking the Lord and identifying your God-ordained purpose. As you do, the lives which you impact will be endless, and you will experience a level of joy and fulfillment that is second to none.
DID YOU KNOW?
West Angeles needs YOU! There are more than 25 ministries and departments at West Angeles. To get involved, please click HERE.