36 There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas[g]). She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor. 37 About this time she became ill and died. Her body was washed for burial and laid in an upstairs room. 38 But the believers had heard that Peter was nearby at Lydda, so they sent two men to beg him, “Please come as soon as possible!”
39 So Peter returned with them; and as soon as he arrived, they took him to the upstairs room. The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Dorcas had made for them.40 But Peter asked them all to leave the room; then he knelt and prayed. Turning to the body he said, “Get up, Tabitha.” And she opened her eyes! When she saw Peter, she sat up! 41 He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then he called in the widows and all the believers, and he presented her to them alive.
The idea of my speech was that we could use whatever we had to serve God and bless others. Like Dorcas had a needle in her hand, others may have a pencil, or a shovel... You get the idea.
Well, somewhere along the way, I must have forgotten the lesson of my speech, because when we were in training for our mission work, I remember a former missionary lady telling us that she had had a party ministry. I remember inwardly kind of "scoffing" at this idea, thinking that surely I would be needing to do something way more "important" than planning parties. Well, I was wrong and those thoughts were sinful and just show my ignorance at what was before me. It's embarrassing even to write about it now.
But, thankfully, I have learned a lot and God has reminded me of that speech long ago. God can and does use parties, sewing, cooking, digging, whatever to grow his kingdom and to serve others. Take for example a needle....
Last year, my friend Auristela, who was not a Christian yet (but is now) worked with her husband in their hardware store. She had some free time during the day and so she began making arts and crafts - mainly with fabric and simple sewing. I have always loved to do that, so we got a group from our church together to have a weekly crafts night. Auristela had the idea to do this crafts night at the home of one of her aunts, an older lady named Claudette, who was going through a really hard time because her husband had left her. Auristela knew that having a group of ladies at her house once a week would lift her spirits. This proved to be true and we loved getting to know Claudette and encouraging her and providing some moments of laughter and fun.
About that same time, we learned that one of our church members (in another house church) was going through a really really hard time. Miguelina has had a hard life, and her 19 year old daughter had just gone through a period of rebellion and was pregnant with her second baby. Miguelina felt hopeless, embarrassed and didn't really want to continue meeting with the church. We thought about how we could help and decided to just invite her to our craft nights. She came, and getting in with our group turned her attitude around. She is a strong member in our church now and instead of being sad about all that she has been through, she is upbeat and positive and planning ways to make a difference for Christ in her new neighborhood.
Even though we loved our craft nights, we were unable to continue them this year. Auristela got a different job, Claudette went to the US to visit her new grandson..... This year, we just haven't been able to get together like we did before. Until last week.
Our daughter, Ansley, is going to Ecuador for 5 months starting in January. I'll talk more about this on a future blog, but she will be working in an orphanage and school. We decided to get together and make a little present for her to take to the orphans. So, the ladies came up with the idea of decorated towels, and we got together for one more craft night.
This time it was at our apartment. Some "new" ladies came, Cledi, a recently baptized sister, brought her two granddaughters. Miguelina was there and some of the other ladies in our house church who had participated in craft nights before. Ansley's friend from work, Camila, also came. Camila is just getting to know Christ and the people in our church. It was a great time for her to just hang out and build relationships. We had fun. We were blessed and hopefully the kids who receive the towels will be blessed as well.
A few days after the towel making night, Camila came by our house and asked if there were any unfinished towels. Her mom, who we haven't even met yet, has struggled with depression for years. When she saw the towels, she got so excited and wanted to help. So we sent all the unfinished towels with Camila for her mom to work on. I am really excited to meet her when we get back to Brazil, and invite her to be a part of our group.
Auristela, Claudette, Miguelina and her daughter, Cledi, Camila, her mom...... Just a short list of people specifically blessed and helped by a simple thing like doing crafts. I can't wait to see how God will continue to use whatever is in our hand to grow his kingdom.