It's been a while since I've given an update FORAI-Friends Of Refugees And Immigrants was started by some church members last fall. It is not a ministry of the church but definitely ministers to many women in our congregation. It's a micro business for the refugee and immigrant community here in St. Louis. The group of women is so diverse. We have women from Liberia, Burundi, Burma, Nepal, Bhutan and Iraq. Each month, more and more women are coming to learn a new skill in hopes to provide for their families. Many women have already learned so much about sewing, they have bought their own sewing machines and are able to work on projects at home! In many ways, it's growing too fast and we can't keep up. Still, it is such an encouragement to see the growth and change this little group has brought. FORAI will soon be a licensed non-profit organisation and I couldn't be more excited.
One of our newest projects is jewelry making. The Nepali women especially love this project and are very opinionated when it comes to taste. We've been making necklaces out of paper beads (that are also hand made). Earrings are another new project we've added to the list this month.
These are the paper beads drying on toothpicks.
There are many house parties scheduled for the summer, products are being sold and projects are completed every day. The women are working hard and it's been very successful so far. All of these things are great, but what gets me most excited about FORAI is the fellowship between the women.
At the beginning of each meeting, we have a small Bible study. Last month, Tika (a Nepali woman) gave her testimony with a translator. The translator (the young girl to the right) didn't seem too confident, but Tika specifically wanted her to do it since she was a Christian.
In the middle of Tika's testimony, a conversation began between all the Nepali women (the rest of us being left out) and then an older Nepali woman began translating instead. I can only imagine that the women felt they weren't hearing the whole story, so another woman took over, only this woman was not a Christian. She continued translating the redemptive story of how God changed Tika's life, reminding us all of the true gospel while she herself was Hindu. All I could do was pray that God would use that experience, basically preaching the gospel to others, to change this woman's life, too!
Between FORAI and being the nursery coordinator at New City Fellowship, I am getting to know the women and their families more and more. It has been such a blessing to be part of this organization. These women have been through so much, more than we Amercans will ever be able to imagine. FORAI gives them a way to provide as well as a hope for their futures. Soon, there will be products for sale on the web site (which is still under construction). You better believe I will let you all know when you can start buying!! Until then, if you live in the St. Louis area and are interested in hosting or attending a home party, let me know!