By Karen L. Willoughby, Managing Editor
MELDER – If there’s a kind of “God glow” shimmering at Pine Ridge Baptist Church, it might be because of the unselfish ministries of fewer than a dozen women.
The group – open to any woman in the church or community – meets twice a month, for about two hours Thursday mornings. The second Thursday of the month starts with an hour-long Bible study; the fourth Thursday starts with a missions meeting, with the women reading “parts” from Missions Mosaic magazine, a WMU publication. The second hour is
reserved for missions projects.
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“These women are a blessing to Pine Ridge Baptist Church,” said Jason Townley, pastor since 1993. “They are committed to doing missions and to keeping missions before the church.”
These are women of varying ages that span a half-century or more. What they have in common is that they genuinely care about each other, and they choose to work together. When one woman has an idea for a ministry, the others join her in it.
Cookies, for example. For the second year in a row, the Pine Ridge women filled platters with three dozen homemade cookies each, and gave them in May to teachers at the school and to local firefighters.
The women use their own ingredients and don’t turn in grocery store receipts for reimbursement. This for each is their personal gift of appreciation, sent, however, with God’s
love from Pine Ridge Baptist Church.
“God takes our little and makes a lot out of it,” said Callie Lance, who’s been part of the group for about seven years. “I do what I do because God has blessed me in so many
ways. This is just one way I can show God’s love. And I know the other ladies feel the
God’s love is important to these Pine Ridge women. They want to share it; they want others
to know it as they know it, having been taught by Pastor Townley, pastors before him
and the women themselves as they have studied missions and God’s love through Women’s
Betty McArthur started the lap-size prayerquilt ministry. She heard about it from a friend in Forest Hill who received one. McArthur’s brother had leukemia, so she made him one and mentioned one Thursday morning what she was doing. By the next meeting, the Pine Ridge women had developed a full-fledged prayerquilt ministry.
A prayer quilt is three layers of material – about three by five and a half feet in size – plain bottom, batting in the center, and a print piece of material on top, all stitched together. Then, at 6-inch increments – or about 50-60 prayers per quilt – a piece of yarn is looped through the three layers, and as the two ends are tied, the quilter says a prayer for the eventual owner of the lap robe.
“It was so simple to make,” McArthur said. “I started in the first part of 2009, and did 19 in
all last year.” The women began to talk at once.
“It’s seems like God’s in it,” one said. “We’re doing what He put us to do.” Another said, “We’ve touched a lot of people.”
The Pine Ridge women make the prayerquilts at home, and bring them to the Thursday
gatherings pray and tie the knots. They discuss the prayer need of the prayerquilt recipient, if they know it, and sometimes there are three and four knots in each tie, as the quilt is prayed over by several of the women.
As they work, the women also tell the stories of the prayerquilts that have been given. The women gave one prayerquilt to a church whose members knotted the ties and as the recipient ran his hand over each knot in turn, he smiled as he felt their prayers. Some families put the quilt their loved one was given in the casket. One quilt went to a family whose baby had already died. That quilt has become an object of comfort to the grieving
Whoever makes the quilt buys the material. She doesn’t submit a receipt to the church
for reimbursement. This is her gift, with God’s love sent by Pine Ridge Baptist Church.
Adding to their ministry, the Pine Ridge women have heard of several friends and family members of prayerquilt recipients who now are making prayerquilts for others.
That’s not the only benefit they’ve heard of for the prayerquilts. One woman who had
been trying for years to have a child, got pregnant with twins after being given a prayerquilt,
the women said.
On each quilt is a message block: “This quilt was made for you with love, hope and prayers. Each knot represents a prayer that was said for you. Praying friends and family. WMU ladies, Pine Ridge Baptist Church.”
The newest project for the Pine Ridge women is a prayer cloth with iron-on scripture passage, to take to someone who is ill.
Other mission-related projects for the Pine Ridge women include support of the ministries of George and Polly Marshall, former Pine Ridge Baptist members serving for the last 10 years as missionaries in Fresnillo, Mexico. The women send toys, school supplies and now are filling bags for a rehab center. At Christmas they sent scarves, toiletry items and more to put in 1,500 Christmas bags.
When Pine Ridge Baptist Church recently purchased a house, the women cleaned, stocked and supplied it for a furloughing missionary. When there are “meal events” at the church, the women prepare and deliver plates for the homebound so they can feel like they had a part in the festivities.
When funerals take place at the church, the women – and others from the church – provide
a meal afterward for the family and friends of the deceased.
The Pine Ridge Women’s commitment is a good reminder of what people can do when they want to, Townley said. “Don’t ever insult God by saying He can’t use you,” the pastor said. “Why should God give us more when we don’t use what we have? … God
blesses what these women do in His name.”