Originally a short-term missions project, Circle of Friends expands reach with state Baptist papercomment (0)
July 22, 2010
By Kristen Padilla
Abbey Green, a member of Uniontown Baptist Church in Cahaba Baptist Association, thought that Circle of Friends was going to be no more than a summertime ministry.
But then an article about the sewing ministry ran in the Aug. 20, 2009, issue of The Alabama Baptist and the phones started ringing.
Members of approximately 10 churches across Alabama read about the ministry and wanted to help.
“The article running in The Alabama Baptist helped us greatly because it started getting other churches involved,” Green said. “It has spread like wildfire.
“We thought it’d be like a summer program in the church, but it shows that if God has His hand in it, He’s going to do what He wants to.”
Circle of Friends began with longtime friends and co-workers Green and Debbie Harrison, a member of Siloam Baptist Church, Marion, in Cahaba Association.
They went on a missions trip to Nicaragua with First Baptist Church, Minden, La., in April 2009. They could not forget the children they had seen and their desperate need for clothes so they got to work.
By the beginning of summer, the women had started Circle of Friends to make clothes for the needy children of Nicaragua and teach school-age girls in Marion about sewing and missions. By the end of summer, the girls had made and sent to Nicaragua 300 pillowcase dresses for girls, 175 shorts for boys and numerous flip-flops and sun visors.
And that’s when the article ran in the state Baptist paper.
When Patsy Jones, a member of Spring Valley Baptist Church, Springville, came across Green and Harrison’s story, she knew immediately that this was something she wanted to do.
“I read the article in The Alabama Baptist, and I thought, ‘Hey, this is something that we could do to help,’” Jones said. “The need of the children (struck my heart). … I was helped when I was a little girl, so I knew what it felt like to have something new.”
So she called Green right away and began enlisting the help of her Sunday School class and others in her St. Clair Baptist Association church to make dresses to send to Circle of Friends.
Within two months, Jones and her group had sewn more than 100 dresses.
The article, along with family connections, also helped members of Greensboro Baptist Church in Hale Baptist Association to get involved with the ministry.
“Practically every one of our members gets The Alabama Baptist, so we were aware of what was going on. I think it assisted … members in the church,” Pastor Dee McGuire said. The fact that one of the founders of Circle of Friends — Green — is the stepgranddaughter of Greensboro Baptist members, Tommy and Regina Washburn, also helped church members connect with the ministry.
Hygiene items and clothes donated to the ministry, along with some it made, were delivered to children in Nicaragua when Circle of Friends completed its latest missions project — building a house for a family of 11 in the Central American country.
The idea to do “something bigger” was born of a death.
Green’s grandfather Bill Wheeler died in November, but during the last few months of his life, he and his wife, Bobbie, had immersed themselves in Circle of Friends’ missions projects, even opening their home to serve as the ministry’s meeting place.
So upon Wheeler’s death, his family asked people to give a memorial gift to Circle of Friends instead of sending flowers.
“We got so many memorials we decided we needed to do something bigger (than making clothes),” Green said. “So we decided to use the money to build a house.”
The week of June 19–25, she and 10 others, representing four Alabama churches, a Florida church and a Louisiana church, traveled to Diriamba, Nicaragua, with Nicaraguan Christian Outreach, a Louisiana-based nonprofit organization that seeks to minister to the spiritual, physical, mental and domestic needs of the Nicaraguan people, and built a house.
And there are already plans to build two more houses and distribute more clothes in early 2011.
“This ministry has truly blessed us,” Green said. “I hope we can get more people on board with the Nicaraguan ministry or any other mission that God lays on their heart.”
For more information, visit www.thealabamabaptist.com and search for “Abbey Green” or contact Green at firstname.lastname@example.org.