Our beloved country, along with many others, it is going through a most difficult time due to the coronavirus. We started losing lives, businesses are closed, and the country is facing another economic meltdown. People who are separated from each other have never experienced such a quiet and lonely time in their lives.
POBLO (People of the Book Lutheran Outreach) has 43 International Friendship Centers (IFCs) in 10 districts of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. In these centers we teach classes such as English and sewing, and help foreign women acclimate to the US. But all classes have been suspended due to the governor’s executive order and our national emergency. Students are confined to their houses. Many of them are going through financial difficulties as their husbands work in restaurants or are taxi drivers.
Necessity is the mother of invention
But God is in control, and we believe He had us prepare for this pandemic a long time ago. POBLO’s IFC center in Dearborn, Mich. started offering sewing classes as part of its IFC program. Volunteers from local churches offered to teach sewing classes. When the pandemic happened, we already had a whole team of seamstresses who started making personal protective masks. We started receiving orders from individuals, families, the elderly in nursing homes and assisted living centers, senior homes, businesses, and local health care facilities.
We emailed a request to our mission partners, individuals, and Lutheran Women Missionary League (LWML) ladies. We started receiving pieces of fabric and supplies as well. The LWML ladies, with great love and compassion, started making masks for us.
Now fourteen of our students are making masks six days a week while staying at home. They are able to buy groceries and pay their bills. This also gives us the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus; it gives them the understanding of who we are as God’s people and as a nation. Refuge for Nations is an independent community outreach project of POBLO Ministries. The Michigan District, LCMS has partnered with us, providing a grant to purchase five industrial sewing machines. This has increased our capacity to expand the training program to reach people who don’t yet know Jesus.
We share the love of Jesus by feeding the hungry, sharing in their hurt and pain, and by staying connected with them at this time of loneliness and uncertainty.
Our students are making isolation gowns for local hospitals. We have skilled workers who are willing to work. We ask our LWML partners and church people to come forward to coach, train, and minister to immigrant women at the International Friendship Centers. We also thank our partner, Wayne Community College, for providing free sewing certification classes to our students.
Photos courtesy of POBLO