God’s Heart in Action
Karen Relfe - Kentucky
Weeding through unfinished sewing projects I inherited from my mother, I found many that seemed beyond repair. Baffled at first, I began to see that Mom had been drawn to items most would toss, a stained blouse or broken button because she saw beauty beyond the damage. Her heart for people was the same. She was drawn to the "broken" ones often overlooked because they apparently have little to offer. In her eyes, they were the beautiful ones. I asked God to give me a heart like hers.
A few days later, a Sew Powerful link popped up in my Pinterest feed. An algorithm that combined a search for purse patterns and an unrelated one for sewing charities? A coincidence? Perhaps, but I believe it was God. I don't jump into something until I'm convinced it's worth doing, so I read everything I could find about this Sew Powerful project. It seemed like a perfect match. I believed in their mission. I had the skills. And it looked like fun! When I read Jason Miles' words about Ngombe being a place others ran from, it resonated. It was as if God said, “THESE are my beautiful ones others leave behind. And YOU have a heart for them, MY heart.” I signed up and started making purses the next morning.
I looked forward to the weekly newsletter. I joined the purse makers' Facebook group. Pleas for volunteers at the Paducah Quilt Show kept coming up. Though I'm an introvert by nature, I found myself longing to help. But it felt overwhelming. I had little time and less money to spare for the trip. My husband told me to go for it anyway. I nervously asked if they still needed volunteers. The answer was a resounding yes, you are wanted! They gave me a pass to the entire show, plus housing free of charge provided by a fellow volunteer.
Three weeks later, I carefully packed 24 purses with note cards and made the five-hour drive to Paducah. God strengthened, humbled and stretched me in surprising ways. I saw gorgeous quilts, made new friends and learned more about Sew Powerful. Repeating the story was anything but boring. I talked and listened and understood more and more what draws me to this project. The passion of the other volunteers was infectious. The response of the listeners was encouraging. I loved watching light dawn in their eyes as they truly began to see the purpose.
The most profound moment came when I overheard another volunteer tell about the impact of the note cards we put in the purses. These girls live in extreme poverty. Most have lost parents. Many are HIV positive. They desperately need encouragement. So when I heard they treasure the notes perhaps more than the pretty purses, I almost cried. When I learned the young women want to know my name so they can pray for me, I did cry! I felt deeply humbled but encouraged by their care.
We all work for the same team: purse makers, seamstresses, teachers, farmers, parents, even the little ones still in school, each doing our own part in our own unique way. It's not just a slogan. It's God's heart in action. Together, we truly are Sew Powerful.