Prayer Shawl Ministry: A Soft Touch In A Hard Time
By Julie Allen–
Throughout our lives, human beings assign emotional value to ordinary objects. The love-worn teddy bear is carried to bed each night. Bread and juice become sacred elements of Communion. A wedding band, however simple in design, is guarded at all costs. Something in our nature yearns for tangible expressions of love.
Like a prayer shawl.
A prayer shawl is a small blanket or covering, usually hand-crocheted or hand-knitted, made as a gift and blessed by a prayer for the recipient. In Mt. Vernon, a group of ladies gather each week to make prayer shawls for cancer patients and others who are suffering. With needles and yarn moving steadily through the conversation, they took time to describe the ministry.
Four years ago, Brenda McGhee was in the hospital, recovering from a long-awaited liver transplant. The season leading up to the transplant was a dark one for her, as it seemed a donor might not be found in time. “I received two prayer shawls,” she recalls, “and they meant so much to me.” By the time Brenda left the hospital, she felt inspired to start a prayer shawl ministry. With her pastor’s blessing, she and ten others met for the first time in February 2015, and they have set aside two hours every Thursday morning since.
Most of the ladies knew the basics of knitting or crocheting before they became part of the group, but a few learned upon joining, and all have advanced their skills over time. One member explained, “I never felt like I had a gift, but this is something I can do; I feel like this is a gift.” Others described the experience as “giving back” or “feeling connected.”
Typically, the ladies do not know for whom they are making each prayer shawl. They simply pray, as they work, for the person who will receive it. Through word of mouth, they learn of people who are suffering from cancer or other disease, those who have lost loved ones, and those experiencing traumatic events. Last year, more than 100 shawls were delivered to a lepers’ colony in India.
To date, the prayer shawl ministry has distributed close to 500 hand-made items, each with a card filled with Bible verses and printed prayers. Perhaps the closing paragraph of that card reflects the heart of the ministry most effectively: “As you wrap yourself in this shawl, we pray you feel God’s love, healing power and comfort. May it encourage you to rest in God, knowing that He is with you. This shawl has been made with love and prayers, for you, by a member of the Prayer Shawl Ministry Group of Central Christian Church. Our prayers will continue to intercede on your behalf.”
Readers can learn more about the prayer shawl ministry by calling 618-242-4185.