Ruba Abbassi named O'Brien Award recipient

by Grace Thornton, posted Thursday, June 21, 2018 (2 years ago)

DALLAS, Texas (BP) -- Ruba Abbassi, CEO of the Jordan-based ministry Arab Woman Today (AWT), is the recipient of this year's Dellanna West O'Brien Award for Women's Leadership Development.

Ruba Abbassi, left, of Arab Women Today, received the 2018 Dellanna West O'Brien Award for Women's Leadership Development from Sandy Wisdom-Martin, executive director of the Woman's Missionary Union (WMU), June 10 during the opening session of the 2018 WMU Annual Meeting in Dallas.
Photo by Van Payne
Abbassi was honored during national Woman's Missionary Union's annual missions celebration June 10 in Dallas. The meeting was held in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting, June 12-13.

The O'Brien Award, named in honor of former WMU executive director Dellanna West O'Brien, has been given annually since 1998 to recognize Baptist women who lead well and foster leadership potential in others.

Abbassi's work through AWT, which spans the world's 22 Arabic-speaking countries, has been going nearly as long as the award. In 1999, Abbassi began developing the organization with radio, television and online ministries as well as community programs to develop women as Christian leaders in the Muslim world.

The work has been going strong ever since.

"It takes a committed leader to develop and equip other leaders, and Ruba is an exemplary model of such ripple-effect leadership," said Melanie Van Laningham of Birmingham, Ala., who nominated Abbassi for the award. "She does not shy away from the hardships that come with being a woman leader in the Arab world. In fact, she -- in her quiet strength -- walks through the obstacles with Christ-like grace, determination and persistence."

Abbassi "is a remarkable woman and a mentor to many," said Cindy Walker, WMU director at First Baptist Church of Minden, La. She also noted that Abbassi had implemented a "phenomenal" program to reach out to Syrian refugees.

Ruba Abbassi of Arab Women Today addressed attendees to the WMU Annual Meeting in Dallas after receiving the group's 2018 Dellanna West O'Brien Award for Women's Leadership Development.
Photo by Van Payne
Abbassi chronicled the challenges facing Arab women -- and the hope offered to them in Christ -- in her book, "The Arab Woman: Embracing Her Potential." She also regularly shares with church and mission groups in the U.S.

Cindy Townsend, minister of WMU and women's enrichment ministry at First Baptist Church of Jackson, Miss., said Abbassi fulfills her role with "a servant heart and out of a passion to be on mission in her world every day."

The O'Brien Award comes with a $2,500 grant from the WMU Foundation that will go to further Abbassi's discipleship of Arab women around the globe.

For more information about Abbassi's ministry, visit

Grace Thornton is a writer based in Birmingham, Ala.
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