Some people think I run a sweatshop. They have that idea because every Wednesday morning, a group of ladies gathers to sew, knit and crochet items for me.
I am not sure how old they are because it’s not polite to ask a lady her age, but it wouldn’t surprise me if some of them had voted for Abraham Lincoln as president. They come with aged bodies, arthritic hands, limited eyesight and more doctor’s appointments than Carter has little pills (Younger generations, just Google “Carter’s Little Pills.”).
Despite their ailments, you will never meet a more resilient group, determined to do one thing: Reach others for Christ. They accomplish this by making stuffed toys, hats, blankets, scarves, dresses, pants, children’s clothing and more. Then I gather these items and deliver them across the world.
My journeys through customs can be quite comical. I pack these stuffed toys around my PA system. The customs agents open a speaker box and find hundreds of stuffed animals surrounding the electronics.
“What is the purpose of these toys?” they ask me.
“To protect our equipment,” I answer, smiling.
Once I reach my destination, I deliver some toys to orphanages and share others with parents who need Christmas gifts for their children. On the way home, I pack my dirty clothes around the speaker boxes. Never once has an agent moved pairs of underwear or socks to discover what lies below.
Not long ago, these ladies sent a container of winter clothing and stuffed toys to Ukraine, where our office will distribute them to refugees for Christmas. And a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of delivering more items to Mexico. A Gospel presentation accompanies each toy.
Last month, Choctaw, Choctaw Road; Tulsa, Parkview; and I hosted a children’s outreach event in Mexico with clowns, a mechanical bull, face-painting, a fishing tank, arts and crafts and food trucks. Hundreds came, and we gave out toys and hats while sharing the Gospel. By the evening, entire families had come to Christ!
I have now depleted the ladies’ stockpile, and they will be back again to start replenishing the needed items for my next trip overseas. We are such an odd couple, the Sewing Ministry of Tulsa, Parkview and me. But I couldn’t be more grateful or love a group more deeply than these ladies. Because of them, families around the world will have clothes and Christmas presents this year.
“She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger” (Luke 2:7b, MSG).
It wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that the Messiah’s blanket was made by one of these ladies. In fact, I know it was: “whatever blanket you made for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, it is just like you made it for Me” (Matt. 25:40b, WDM version).
From my family to yours, I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Top photo by Caroline Feelgood