A Heart Like Nehemiah’s

Gina Armstrong

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

July 2019

I have always loved to sew.  I even chose it as my university education, and I have been sewing things for the past 45+ years.  I was also involved in the small church of 100 people we attended; I was the bookkeeper for over 10 years.  Several years ago, that church closed its doors, and we started attending a much larger church in April 2015.  That fall I joined a Ladies bible study to meet other women.  Our first study was by Kelly Minter on the book of Nehemiah.  Nehemiah had a pretty good life as the cupbearer to King Cyrus of Persia, but his heart was breaking for his fellow Jews and the tragic state of Jerusalem following their Babylonian exile.  After months of prayer, Nehemiah left his comfortable lifestyle and went to help the Jews rebuild the wall around the city.  Kelly’s study examines the main themes in Nehemiah’s story which are of missional service, kingdom work, tender hearts, prayer, and love of the poor.

I remember feeling frustrated during that study which kept asking us for what our hearts were breaking, and where God had led us to serve.  My heart was breaking to help young girls, but so far, I was still waiting for God’s direction for me in this new church of 4,000+ attendees!  The church offered several opportunities to get involved with groups who use their love of crafting to serve others.  And I had met other women who share my love for sewing.  The problem was that all the sewing groups met during the daytime, and I have a full-time job, so I am not able to join the groups when they meet.  Through the Nehemiah study, I met Dianne, who was also waiting to see where God would have her serve next.  In her search for opportunities, she came across the Sew Powerful Purse Project.  Dianne embraced this project and started a group in the fall of 2016 to sew purses for the Project.  The group meets one Friday during the month.  I was very keen to take part in this group, but again, there was the obstacle of them meeting during the day.

I prayed about this, seeking God’s direction.  His answer came in the form of my performance and salary review at work.  I work for three brothers (who are all followers of Christ), and I do their bookkeeping for their real estate investments through their family company.  I have worked for them for over 15 years and had pretty much reached the top level of salary compensation.  I felt the Lord prompting me to ask for a day off per month so I could join the group when they sew purses for Sew Powerful.  They said Yes!  They were particularly interested in helping girls stay in school.  They themselves had started an orphanage in Ukraine, the country of their heritage.  They understood the importance of helping those children in poverty with education.  More recently, they have donated funds to buy fabric for our sewing group.

I was thrilled to be able to join!  It took me most of my first day (about 6 hours) to make my first purse (2015 pattern, with the “A” flap).  That was in January 2017.  Today, I no longer need the pattern, and can sew three or four purses per day.  I help Dianne in cutting out the kits for our group, and I am one of the ones others come to for help.  I have been greatly blessed to be serving God through something I love to do.  My heart does break for these young girls who miss school for lack of provision, and I pray that one day I might be more involved with this project when I retire.  God is Sew Powerful!

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