Janet Chiefari and Eileen Kopsaftis lead CAMEO Ministries, a prayer and healing ministry of Grace Fellowship Church.
The leadership of CAMEO have an understanding of sexual abuse (and abuse of any kind) that can only be achieved by having lived through it and actually experiencing God’s healing. Eileen and Janet have led a CAMEO Ministries Support Group called Choose Freedom at Grace Fellowship Church since 1999 and have seen God miraculously work in women’s lives. What happened to the abused person is a fact. The memories are truth, nothing can change that, but with God’s help the feelings connected with the memories can be changed and healed. Janet and Eileen have a unique and remarkably effective way of reflecting God’s love. Healing takes place in relationship, with God and man. In the support group we have all been there and we understand as no one else ever could. We share and help one another.
The statistics are alarmingly high concerning the incidence of the sexual abuse of women in the United States, some stating that 1 out of every 3 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a woman is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes in this country. Whether there is one time or repeated abuse (physical, emotional, verbal), these women often carry a load of bitterness, anger, fear, unforgiveness, and self-pity that ends up controlling their lives.
But I don’t want to consider victims of sexual (or other) abuse as statistics. They are flesh and blood feeling human beings who have been hurt beyond the comprehension or understanding of most people. Yet there is One who does comprehend their pain completely.
I was a victim of severe sexual abuse as a child. I feel that God has prepared me to give my testimony so that others may see what He has done for me. To those of you who have suffered from abuse such as mine, I want to tell you there is hope, there is healing, there is a happy, fulfilled life waiting for you. God has shown me the way, not though any strength of my own, but because He loves every one of us and He hears and answers our prayers. Like a cameo, God will carve away our past, revealing the beautiful women we were always meant to be. – Janet Chiefari
Eileen Kopsaftis is a medical professional – a Physical Therapist. Blessed with healing hands, she also has a healing heart. She believes that God will triumph over all that wounds us in our lives; we just need to work with Him, not against Him. One of her favorite scriptures is “Trust in the Lord, and do good.” God has shown Himself to be ever faithful, ever healing, ever patient, ever loving, and much more in her life. Being part of CAMEO is an honor.
“My presence is not required for God to heal in this ministry; yet He allows me to participate in His miracles every week. For that I am abundantly thankful. The joy I receive when bondages are broken and women are set free is beyond description. Watching women set free from shame, anger, unforgiveness, and more is something I will cherish all of my days. I truly love every woman God sends to us.” – Eileen Kopsaftis
Eileen serves as President of the Advisory Board for this ministry. Eileen and her husband Pete have four children and three grandchildren.
Trisha Cooney is currently a returning Russell Sage student who is working on her bachelor’s degree in Creative Art Therapy. She has been an active part of Cameo and has facilitated for Cameo Ministries at Community Alliance Church in Hoosick Falls. Trisha is on the continuous journey of receiving the Lord’s healing in her own personal life and has a heart to serve the Lord by ministering the message of hope to other women. She has three wonderful children and is a retired homeschooling mom.
Praise is to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
It has been a privilege to be part of Cameo Ministries and through God’s comfort that I received, I am able to give back comfort to those who are hurting.
Jacqueline Simmons is a mother of 3 adult children, grandmother of 9, and spiritual mother to many. She is an ordained minister, missionary, and has over 25 years of experience in prison ministry. She is also a survivor of sexual and physical abuse. Having experienced abuse herself, the desire of her heart is to see others experience God’s healing power.
I realized there were undiscovered dimensions of pain from my past. It is my testimony that God’s desire for us is to overcome darkness with light, and pain with healing. I have faith and trust that He is at work to bring us to strength and make us whole. Healing from the inside out is one of the means by which “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose” – Romans 8:28.
I want to continue to receive his blessing so I can bless others. God has used my life to help and touch others and it all began with healing the hurt from my past. What the Lord has done for me he can do for other women.”
Kelly Kissane has been a strong leader in CAMEO Ministries for many years.
Attending Cameo was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
Years of abuse had left me a very angry, fearful, anxiety ridden person. I was a continual nervous wreck and was very close to becoming a recluse. Just getting out the door to go to work or to church was a daily battle. My husband would lovingly try to coax me out of the house by offering to take me for a drive or to go out for ice cream (an absolute favorite of mine). But I wouldn’t leave. The thought of attending a weekly group at Grace was terrifying but I knew I had to try. I had been in counseling for about a year and that helped a great deal but it didn’t bring the healing or the freedom that I desperately wanted. When the pain of my pitiful everyday life exceeded my fear of walking into that classroom I made the commitment to attend the 15 week Cameo session.
My husband was my support system. He came home from work early every Monday night to encourage me and to get me out the door. Once at the church, Janet and Eileen welcomed me with love and understanding. Knowing that there were intercessors praying for me was an awesome feeling. I wasn’t alone. The other women in the group were fantastically funny, warm, genuinely broken, saints.
At the end of the 15 weeks my anger was gone. For years I had tried to get rid of it. Every book or teaching treated anger like it was a box that we could pick up or put down at will. Not so for me. My anger was like a rash that I couldn’t get rid of no matter what I tried. But the Cameo curriculum and the prayer behind the group started knocking down the walls that I had built, forgiveness seeped in and the anger drained away. It was the most wonderful feeling in the world and I was content with that.
Several weeks after the Cameo session ended a friend invited me to a mom’s prayer group. I said yes. That morning I was running a few minutes late and I wasn’t sure where exactly the house was where we were meeting. I ran out the door to the driveway. Half way to the car I was hit by this strong sense that I had forgotten something. Did I have my purse? Yes. My phone? Yes. Do I still have my slippers on? No. Something was missing but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then it hit me. I was happily running out the door to go to a person’s house who I had never met, to pray with a bunch of women I didn’t know, and I couldn’t wait to get there! My fear and anxiety were gone. I was healed! I was free. Free from anger, fear, worry, and despair. I wasn’t afraid to leave my house and I began to experience and enjoy life.
I became a Cameo leader so that I could walk alongside other women who are hurting. The words from Isaiah 61 echo in my heart:
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion–
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
Janet and Eileen are available for speaking engagements at churches, women’s meetings, conferences, and retreats on topics including: adult victims of childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault, recognizing childhood sexual abuse, victims of physical, emotional, mental, verbal abuse, CAMEO Ministries services and support. Training is available to begin a group in your church or area.