Celebrating Chantal Winograd on International Women’s Day

Celebrating Chantal Winograd on International Women’s Day

 

International Women’s Day highlights the profound impacts women have worldwide. This year, we spotlight Chantal Winograd, co-founder of Reach Initiative International (RII). Her story is one of personal triumph, a profound spiritual calling, and global impact. 

chantal and stewart International Women's Day

Early Life and Turning Point

Chantal’s journey begins in a French-Canadian Roman Catholic family, the youngest of six children. Her early years were marked by a significant loss, with her father’s death altering the course of her life. The ensuing struggles with drugs, alcohol, and a quest for enlightenment through Eastern religions and the occult reflected a deep yearning for truth and purpose. In this state of searching, Stewart entered her life, becoming her best friend who guided her toward a transformative encounter with Yeshua.

This encounter began a divine calling that would eventually take Chantal and her family across the world. Guided by a steadfast faith, Chantal embarked on a mission alongside her husband, Stewart, founding Reach Initiative International (RII). Together, they have dedicated almost three decades to ministering God’s love, truth, and salvation to those most in need, from Holocaust survivors, and Israeli seekers to orphans and the elderly in remote regions.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we will learn about Chantal’s ministry and mission, the challenges and triumphs she faced, and the legacy of love and faith she continues to build. Join us in honoring a woman whose life is a narrative of faith, sacrifice, and sharing the love of Yeshua.

The Turning Point: Embracing the Call

The pivotal moment in Chantal Winograd’s journey into ministry unfolded through a profound internal struggle. 

Living on their dream homestead in upstate New York, the Winograds had created an idyllic setting for their family. It was a life filled with the simplicity and beauty of nature. “We had cows, dogs and chicken and cats… and a huge garden,” Chantal reminisces. This serene lifestyle represented everything they wanted for their children, a tangible manifestation of their dreams.

Yet, the call to move overseas marked a seismic shift in their lives. “God surprised us and started to work a detachment in my heart. And, you know, you hear that still, small voice that tugs at your heart.” It was a voice that spoke of sacrifice, of leaving behind the comfort and security of their home for the unknown. “I didn’t understand this… But at the same time, I felt this voice pulling us.”

“God started to show me,” she shares. “He actually showed me that we would work with the Soviet Jews. He showed that we would move to that part of the world.

Their calling to serve in Belarus was sparked during an evangelistic outreach with Hear O Israel led by Jonathan Bernis. “God clarified this calling and pretty much said to us, ‘Go back home, pack your things, and come back.” This direct and swift call to action was a moment of both realization and reckoning for Chantal and her family, encapsulating the leap of faith required to follow God’s plan. “It was a very, very fast call. We had to move fast. And He provided, in an amazing way, for a family of six to be moved overseas.”

Impactful Initiatives: A Global Compassion Network

It is challenging to summarize the scope of initiatives that RII is involved in, and it all points back to Stewart and Chantal’s willingness to take that leap of obedience.

Belarus: Nurturing Spiritual Communities

In Belarus, RII is focused on building spiritual communities and supporting Holocaust survivors, blending community support with spiritual nurturing. This effort showcases RI’s commitment to long-term, sustainable faith development and community care. They also focus on orphans, children battling cancer, and underprivileged youth. “Today, Camp Chalutzim serves hundreds of children and teens and is where many campers meet Yeshua.” 

India: Embracing Hospitality as a Form of Love

In India, the approach is centered on showing the love of Yeshua and welcoming through hospitality. By creating spaces where young people can come together, learn, and find fellowship, RII extends a warm, inclusive embrace to all who seek peace and spiritual growth. 

Israel: Honoring IDF Soldiers

RII’s “Keeping Soldiers Warm” initiative is a heartfelt tribute to the dedication and sacrifice of IDF soldiers. By adopting units and delivering warm clothing and gear, particularly to those stationed outside of Hebron, RII is meeting the urgent needs of these brave young men and women and strengthening the bond between people all around the world who support them and the soldiers. Despite rising costs as winter intensifies, the plan to purchase 200 sets of winter gear showcases a commitment to providing comfort in the harsh weather.

Israel: Supporting Holocaust Survivors

RII cherishes a deep connection with Holocaust survivors, extending beyond mere assistance to forming family bonds. With regular visits to more than 120 survivors who welcome them into their homes, RII’s approach is one of personal engagement and support. RII also holds “Warm House” events with good fun, fun activities, and fellowship.

Ukraine: Providing Timely Aid in Crisis

The response to the conflict in Ukraine demonstrates RII’s adaptability and compassion as it delivers aid to communities in need. This action highlights the organization’s core mission of serving humanity, especially in moments of crisis, showcasing a readiness to help wherever and whenever needed.

Challenges and Triumphs: Motherhood at the Heart of Service

In pioneering global initiatives and co-leading Reach Initiative International with her husband, Chantal Winograd faced the profound challenge of balancing her roles as a mother, grandmother, and ministry leader. 

Embracing Motherhood Amidst Ministry: An Inside Look On International Women’s Day

Chantal’s narrative on motherhood is deeply intertwined with her mission. The call to move overseas and embark on a life of service was a decision that impacted not just Chantal and her husband Stewart, but their four children as well. Leaving behind their dream homestead in upstate New York symbolized a sacrifice for personal dreams and the stability and environment they envisioned for their children.

Chantal articulates the emotional complexity of this transition, recognizing the need to balance her ministry with her family’s needs. “Your kids are home for a short time. So keep your focus: they’re your priority,” she advises.

Stewart and Chantal integrated their family into the fabric of their ministry, which facilitated a shared family mission and instilled in them values of service, compassion, and faith.

Reflections on Leadership and Service: Embodying Compassion and Vision

Leadership Rooted in Empathy and Understanding

Chantal’s leadership style is deeply imbued with empathy, a critical component that has enabled her to connect with diverse groups across the globe. Whether working with Holocaust survivors in Israel or aiding communities in Ukraine, her ability to understand and address the unique needs of each community exemplifies empathetic leadership. This approach fosters trust and openness and builds lasting relationships that transcend the initial acts of service.

Visionary Approach to Addressing Needs

Chantal’s initiatives reflect a visionary approach to service, characterized by a deep understanding of the long-term impact of her work. For instance, her efforts along with Stewart, in establishing congregations and training centers demonstrate a commitment to sustainable change that empowers communities from within. They also strive to be very transparent with their identity and intention at all times. “We’re very open about who we are,” she stressed.

Navigating Faith: Chantal Winograd on Obeying God’s Voice

Trusting God’s Timing: Lessons from Abraham

Chantal shares a pivotal lesson from the life of Abraham, a figure of immense faith and patience, yet not without his moments of human weakness. “We may hear things about what the Lord is going to do in our life or where He’s going to call us. But if we don’t have the timing right, we can really mess up things. And that’s why we have to be patient. Like Abraham was patient. I mean, mostly patient. Then there was always Ishmael,” she reflects.

Scriptural Insights

Genesis 16:2 reveals Sarah’s proposal to Abraham to have a child with Hagar, her maidservant, a decision driven by impatience and a desire to accelerate the fulfillment of God’s promise: “So Sarai said to Abram, ‘The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.’ Abram agreed to what Sarai said.” This act, while intended to bring about God’s promise, instead led to strife and complexity, showcasing the profound implications of disregarding divine timing.

Then there was the eventual birth of Isaac, as recounted in Genesis 21:1-2: “Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the time God had promised him,” serves as a testament to the faithfulness of God’s promises and the importance of waiting on His timing.

Embracing Divine Direction

“And He makes it clear if we’re open to hear Him,” Chantal emphasizes the significance of remaining open to God’s guidance, trusting in His plans, and the clarity He provides to those willing to listen. “I believe that 100%, if our heart is open to hear him and to whatever He’s going to tell us, then He’ll make it clear and confirm it,” Chantal advises.

A Heart Transformed by Love

Once they decided to give Him their yes, she experienced not only hearing His call but also the grace to make obedience easier. “This is what happened with us. And He gives us the heart for it. He really started to work on our hearts. There was this supernatural love, you know, for our new friends, Belarussian Jewish people coming to our congregation,” Chantal explains. 

Honoring Chantal Winograd’s Ongoing Mission International Women’s Day

Reflecting on Chantal Winograd’s journey this International Women’s Day reveals the depth of her commitment to global ministry and service and the living legacy she continues to build. Her work through Reach Initiative International (RII), touching lives in Belarus, India, Israel, and Ukraine, is a testament to the power of compassionate action and steadfast faith.

As we observe International Women’s Day, Chantal Winograd embodies this celebration’s essence—acknowledging women’s remarkable efforts worldwide. Her ongoing mission underscores the significance of serving purposefully, demonstrating the extraordinary influence one woman can make by leading with boldness, heart, and conviction.

 

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