SIEMA stands for International Society of Adventist Ministers' Wives, which is the name of SHEPHERDESS in Spanish and French.
My first contact with SIEMA came during the General Conference Session at Indianapolis. As the meetings for the ladies came to a close, every day a special meeting for the SIEMA (Shepherdess) coordinators was announced. Since neither 1 nor my friends from Inter-America knew what SIEMA stood for, we wondered what the meetings were about.
A year went by and I was invited to participate in a committee established to revise Sabbath School programs for children. This meeting took place at the G.C. headquarters in Washington and while there I asked a friend about SIEMA. With a surprised look on her face she said, "Come, I'll take you to the person who can best answer your questions." It was then that I met Ellen Bresee. With love and patience, she took the time to explain what SIEMA stands for and what it seeks to accomplish for the pastors' wives. I could see the sorrow in her eyes because of those of us who did not have this wonderful program which provides the support and spiritual growth so specially designed for us.
As I went to my room that night I knelt by the bedside and prayed and wept. I wept for myself and for all others who, like me, were in need of SIEMA. I begged my Lord to help me tear down any barriers that could be responsible for this program not being implemented in my territory. I asked for strength and wisdom in order to find the most direct route for solving this problem. It was not easy. I had to convince the administrators of the urgency of this need. But God began opening doors and in less than a year we had established five SIEMA chapters in our territory. The receptiveness and enthusiasm displayed by those who share this ministry with us is amazing. I have been surprised as I hear some pastors say that SIEMA has been instrumental in getting their wives more involved with their ministry and to become more identified with their church and its saving mission. Many say:
- They are happy and so are we.
- My wife now displays more enthusiasm and has very good ideas for working with our church members very efficiently.
- My wife is another person; you have helped her to take a big load off her shoulders since she now realizes she can share her burdens with other ladies who have the same problems.
I have summarized what SIEMA means to me with the following acrostic:
S: Smiles, loving greetings and support in times of need. It means feeling accepted, valued and understood by my friends in ministry.
I: Identification with the mission of the church and training for ministering in a way that will nourish our congregations.
E: Experiencing the joy and satisfaction of being a pastor's wife.
M: Ministering beside my husband, as we work together in soul winning, is being motivated to face struggles and to discover my personal gifts so that I may polish them.
A: Affection and friendship for my husband, my children, my church, my fellow pastors' wives, brothers and friends (who may admire or even criticize me) and for all of God's children who need a friendly hand to help them out in this world of grief and pain. And especially lots of love for Jesus, my best friend. Four years have gone by since SIEMA was established in our Union. Thanks to the efficient support of the Local Field administrators, the wives of our pastors feel they are a part of the ministerial team. They have become leaders by coordinating, training and providing support to all the church programs in the church. Such leadership has been a great blessing throughout our entire Union. The churches are visibly more identified with the ministerial couples and the bonds of Christian love are becoming ever more binding.
I thank God for SIEMA!