A Family is Shown Love
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a CAMACrafts staff member’s nephew in Southeast Asia became gravely ill. The local, district, and provincial hospitals did not have the resources to help this little boy. In desperation, the family gathered all the funds they had and brought the little boy to one of the best hospitals in the capital city. Shortly after they arrived, a COVID outbreak struck the city, and all travel in and out of the capital was shut down to prevent the spread. Later that week, the doctors told the family that there was nothing more they could do for the little boy.
What was the family going to do? They had no place to stay in the city, and there was no way to get back home under the COVID travel restrictions. The family was worried that they would spend all their money and go into debt while they waited for the travel restrictions to be lifted, and they were horrified to think that this little boy would succumb to his illness far from home. The family feared that they would not be able to give him a proper funeral so far from their friends and relatives. In their culture, people deeply value the thought of spending their last moments on earth in their homes and with their loved ones.
Some believers on the CAMACrafts staff realized the situation their coworker and her family were in and felt deep compassion for them. The staff members took the initiative to negotiate with the hospital and the local government’s COVID taskforce to hire an ambulance to take the little boy and his family back to their home village. This was the only way the family would be allowed to travel. The staff members also approached CAMA for the funds to hire the ambulance, an amount equal to a month’s salary for an average worker.
Sadly, the little boy did not recover. He passed away a few days after returning home.
But it is during times of great struggle or pain that people need to know that there is a Father who loves them and a family that is eager to come around them in love. This CAMACrafts employee remembers the compassion that her believing coworkers showed to her relatives. She talks about the sacrifice they made of their time and resources to see that her relatives could return home during the travel restrictions. She now listens a little more carefully when they tell her about a compassionate and all-powerful Father who is calling her to be His own.
Please pray for CAMACrafts. The company’s goal is to train additional producers from a second minority group this year.
Alliance Women is committed to prayer and financial support for the CAMACrafts ministry in the South Pacific region. We have set a goal to raise $17,000 for the expansion of this vital ministry to women. To participate, please visit www.alliancewomen.org/give.
Circle of Hope – Our Dreams of Expansion
In December of 2020, the Circle of Hope made its first trip to the town of Quniceo in the state of Michoacan—four hours south of Guadalajara—as part of an integrated church planting strategy to reach and train the Purepecha, an indigenous people group. The goal is to plant a new church, Breath of Life, in the nearby town of Paracho and establish the community development ministry of Circle of Hope. Once a suitable office is found in Paracho, the church and Circle of Hope will begin to offer Bible studies, spiritual counselling, legal aid, and job skills training for home micro-businesses.
A great challenge for Circle of Hope will be to identify and then train women in this distant city who will become workshop leaders and future leaders of the ministry. Workshops being considered for this area are focused on meeting the needs of the women in this indigenous community, relieving the poverty and illiteracy so that the gospel can bring hope and dignity.
Workshops under consideration include:
- Literacy and GED-Type Programs—In this area and in many parts of Mexico, many women are taken out of school after fifth grade to work, either in the home or as helpers in other homes or to begin the process of learning their indigenous crafts and selling them in the city square. Boys are allowed to continue their education, which causes a great inequality in education, jobs, and pay. This situation is more prevalent in indigenous communities.
- Sewing—In this community, the women create tapestries and clothing made of intricate stitching designs, and it can take up to six months to finish one skirt. Each design tells a story of their beliefs and traditions, which are usually syncretistic in nature, including many gods. The Circle of Hope sewing workshop would include techniques known to the women but would be presented in a different medium, possibly through a type of quilt-making workshop where women would learn how to make coverings for beds. The designs in each square would be biblical, telling the God-story instead of the animistic symbols and gods with which they are accustomed.
- Artisan Jewelry—This would give each woman a new skill and an outlet to earn money, either by selling their finished products along with their typical indigenous crafts or making bracelets for the Circle of Hope ministries around the world as we distribute bracelets to churches and ministries in the Alliance world.
- Basic Health Care Instruction—This is a vital element of the indigenous and rural Circle of Hope, providing basic training for mothers with an emphasis on nutrition for young children. This instruction will depend on the support from outside sources such as short-term medical teams.
- Computer Skills—Our focus would be on school-age girls and single mothers. Circle of Hope would be willing to launch into this area given the lack of employment opportunities for young women. We believe that with the provision of stable Internet, we can dedicate one room permanently to computer access as we develop a micro-business for women at the center focusing on skills in database entry and graphics arts design.
Alliance Women is committed to prayer and financial support for the Circle of Hope ministry in Mexico. We have set a goal to raise $16,600 for this vital ministry to women. To participate, please visit www.alliancewomen.org/give.
A New Approach
My car was at the dealership service center for a recall repair. Since I was 70 miles from home and anticipated a half-day wait, I chose a loaner vehicle and drove to the shopping center. I did not have a list of gifts to purchase, so I enjoyed the luxury of browsing, taking the time to notice things that may have escaped my attention on a task-driven pursuit.
As you would expect, I found myself in a department store. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed signage that read “a.n.a® – a new approach,” advertising a clothing line designed for women. I smiled as I thought of Ana Cuevas, a delightful team member who has served throughout my tenure and will succeed me in the role of Alliance Women national director, effective July 1, 2023. Yes, Ana will bring a new approach to Alliance Women. Praise God!
As I anticipate this leadership transition in 2023, I celebrate the opportunities that change brings. New beginnings. Fresh ideas. I celebrate the unique perspective that Ana will bring to the ministry of Alliance Women, shaped by her life experience. I affirm her giftings that are different from mine. A new approach, indeed, that will continue to move us forward in our desire to bring all of Jesus to all the world.
As we begin the year 2023 with 40 Days of Prayer, I humbly request that you intercede for both Ana and me as we individually and collectively listen to our Heavenly Father, asking that His will be done and His Kingdom come on earth, in the lives of Alliance women, as it is in heaven.
I am praying Isaiah 54:2 over myself, Ana, and Alliance Women for 2023:
“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.”
Enlarge—Pray for increased ownership and engagement among Alliance women in 2023 as I conclude my tenure and Ana commences hers.
Stretch—Pray for a fresh wind from the Holy Spirit that increases our capacity to welcome and invite women into our personal lives and corporate fellowship.
Do not hold back—Pray for increased faith and boldness. We desire to resist both fear and apathy.
Lengthen—Pray for an expansion of Kingdom impact both locally and globally. We believe that the gospel transforms communities and is for all people.
Strengthen—Pray for unity and an ever-deepening love for Jesus. In Christ alone, our strength and solidarity are found.
I invite you to do the same.
Thank you, Ana, for giving your “yes” to God. May you daily experience His everlasting kindness. God is for you, Ana. He is with you. He is in you. The one who called you is faithful, and He will do it (1 Thess. 5:24).
The Simplicity of Friendship
Since 2010, Cornerstone Christian Fellowship (CCF), a C&MA church in Hilliard, OH, has been reaching out to local disadvantaged families, immigrants, and refugees. We have a team of dedicated volunteers who have been involved in building relationships and providing resources to underserved people.
Many years ago, I heard an Alliance missionary say, “In the future, one of our largest mission fields will be among the immigrants and refugees coming to America.” This has certainly proven true in our small, suburban church. We have had an active ministry with internationals in our community.
Arabic, Japanese, Latino, and Jordanian people have participated in our English conversation gatherings, community garden, farmers market, and Good Tidings Christmas Store. Now, we have an opportunity to welcome and support a refugee family from Afghanistan.
For many weeks, members of our Afghan welcome team underwent training, spent time in prayer on how to best help the family that God was going to send to us, and invested both time and money in furnishing a home for them. As part of the welcome team for an Afghan family, I was given the privilege to write a story about my interactions with the family.
In December, we welcomed a family—Daddy, Mama and five children ages 2, 5, 6, 8, and 10. They came with very few possessions and could speak very little English; however, with the help of Google Translate (which is not always successful), through body language, pointing, and lots of prayer on our part, we were able to communicate. There were humorous mix-ups, and I’m sure they sometimes thought that we were crazy Americans!
The day after they arrived, two of us took the children to a nearby playground. The family had been staying in a nearby hotel for several days. We had great fun getting to know one another. Shortly thereafter, I had a great time taking the children to the library and to a larger playground that the oldest girl called “a beautiful park.” She also indicated I could be their “grandmother.” That really touched my heart because they had to leave all their family and friends in Afghanistan.
This family’s most important needs are learning English, getting the children into school, and finding a job for the father. Once the children get into school, I’m sure they will learn English quickly as they are already picking up words and phrases. The entire family is attending an ESL class two evenings a week, which provides childcare and teaching for children.
Also, because they live in a suburb, the family will need a vehicle as they are not within walking distance to grocery stores, doctors, etc.
Alliance Women is committed to prayer and financial support for the RAIN Alliance ministry in Ohio. We have set a goal to raise $25,000 for this hands-on ministry to refugees. To participate, please visit www.alliancewomen.org/give.