One thing that I really felt convicted about before deciding to go on a mission trip outside of the US was the fact that there is a HUGE mission field right here in our own backyard! For years I thought that I would love to go somewhere to serve, but I just really needed to start right here before I ventured off. Hence the Laundry Love Projects and the Clothes Closet were born in me. I decided that if I never got the chance to go somewhere else that I needed to at LEAST try to love on those in our community. God is so good to bless me with more opportunities than I’d ever dreamed.
This past week our Children’s Ministry Coordinator and our Women’s Ministry Coordinator contacted me a second time about a group of people in great need within our church.
The church staff was caught off guard a few months ago on a Sunday morning when a large group of Asian people showed up for Sunday school and church! They spoke little English, but wanted to attend service and they wanted their (VERY LARGE) group of children to be in Sunday school.
After piecing together the story they found out that this was a group of refugees that had moved to our area 4 years ago. They all live together in some apartments that are not far from our church, and they literally had the clothes on their backs.
A missionary had been to their country and had told them about Jesus. When they started living it and renouncing their native religious beliefs they were persecuted. They had to flee their country and were displaced for a period of time before they were brought to the US and set up with a place to live. All they needed (in their eyes) was a place to worship.
As the ministry staff met with them more and realized that they literally had NO means of provision for their families and no beds, furniture, pots, pans, etc. they knew that they had to do something.
When they first asked them, “What do you NEED?” Their response was, “For our children to know Jesus.”
As you can imagine the ministry staff has been just blown away by their humility and their simple requests that they and their children be allowed to attend church and nothing more. It was not until the church started asking questions that they found out that the physical and nutritional needs were so great.
There is also a great need for clothing. YAY!!!!! That is where the clothing ministry came in! I was so excited when they said that they were bringing them to “shop”!
After taking them to our food pantry they brought them to me. We got each of them registered and many of them were carrying children on their backs.
This was the smallest one and she looks so much like her mom! This lady spoke English just enough to help us explain the system of the clothing ministry to her friends and family. We were so thankful for her because the language barrier is always so frustrating!
We mainly have clothing but every once in a while we will get a small donation of soap, tooth brushes, tooth paste, etc. We were able to give them those supplies and they were THRILLED! One lady looked at me as I bagged up the soaps, etc, and she said, “Free?” I smiled and shook my head and she said, “OH! Thank you!! Thank you!”
The biggest miracle of the day, however, occurred when the bedding came. When I opened the store that morning someone had come into the Clothing ministry building and they’d left some VERY cute quilted comforters and matching pillows, etc. They were just adorable, but I have NO room for them. I was kind of frustrated because I knew that I would have to send them to Goodwill and I didn’t want to!! They were in SUCH good shape and they were sets that someone would have loved to have, and I wanted so much to bless someone with them.
When the ministry ladies arrived they started explaining to me that these people had all been sleeping on pallets on the floor in their apartments and that they did not have beds. I took them to the back where the bedding was waiting to go to Goodwill. “Can they use this?” I asked. “ARE YOU KIDDING!!? We are in the process of finding beds! This will be PERFECT!”
Seriously, God? HOW do You do it?!
One of the ministry staff ladies said that she has two young children and she knows that it is not the season for her to go out of the US on a mission trip. She said that she had prayed that the Lord would bring the mission to her. She has been blown away by the way that the Lord has truly done that and thus has started something in her that she had never dreamed!!
All of us are just in such awe and amazement at how our God answers prayer and meets just the most basic needs right when we need it. That bedding didn’t come 2 weeks ago… it came last week. We’ve started to switch things from winter to spring and we’d just “beefed up” the store. God knew that we’d need every stitch of clothing for the needs of these people and He continues to provide over and over again.