Quilters make impact in South Africa - Word&Way

Quilters make impact in South Africa

CHANTILLY — “Quilters for Jesus,” a missions team from Ox Hill Baptist Church in Chantilly traveled to Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Feb. 4-18 and shared their love for Jesus, along with their skills and love for the craft of quilting.

Children waiting at the soup kitchen in Port Elizabeth.

Preparations began months before their departure as the members gleaned supplies. Since these women were quilters and had friends who were quilters, there were lots of fabric stashes to unpack and to discover a variety of fabric that could be used for the project. A local Girl Scout troop fulfilling a community service requirement donated 75 yards of flannel.

The Quilters for Jesus then assembled 78 individual quilt or quillow kits. Each kit was assembled in a large ziploc bag. It included fabric that was cut to size. Since all the sewing was done by hand, also included in the kits were thread, pins, needles and thimbles purchased with funds given by members and interested friends. They wanted each of the women to have a pair of scissors. A donation of 25 pairs was received from a manufacturer and an additional 25 pairs were given by church members. All kits were packed into suitcases to be taken by the team on the plane.

Quilters for Jesus (from left) Willie Mae Byrum, Barbara Hoge, Alice Lowe, Sharon Scarce, Velma Simmons and Jennifer Williams.

Excitement was high as Ox Hill’s Quilters for Jesus — Willie Mae Byrum, Barbara Hoge, Alice Lowe, Sharon Scarce, Velma Simmons and Jennifer Williams — arrived in Port Elizabeth and met Al and Cathy Burleson, missionaries with the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board. On the first morning of the workshop, the women were driven in two cars — each pulling a trailer loaded with quilting supplies — to Barcelona township. During the week there were 28 participants, each finishing their quillow and starting their quilts. In the afternoons there were other opportunities.

One afternoon the team prepared and served a meal at the Arcadia Soup Kitchen. Betty, a member of West End Baptist Church in Port Elizabeth, started this kitchen in her yard for the children of the neighborhood. She uses it to talk to the children about God and encourages them to attend the Friday afternoon events at the church. The Ox Hill team made 25 loaves of bread for cheese sandwiches. They also served a small bag of chips and a cool drink to each child. At one point, 169 children were counted waiting orderly in line and carrying their own cups to be served.

Another afternoon the women took school supplies to the SOS Villages Orphanage. The youth at Ox Hill were encouraged to give $1 to buy examination books for students living in the orphanage and $56 was collected. Additional school supplies were purchased in Port Elizabeth with money given by adults at Ox Hill. Two of the housemothers attended the quilting workshop and plan to teach others their newly acquired quilting skills.

The Quilters for Jesus reported they had a wonderful experience and pray the seeds they planted will mature and grow to faith in Jesus for some of the people they touched while in South Africa.