NEW ORLEANS (BP) — When Jay and Elizabeth Terrill decided to forego Christmas gifts to each other and instead give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, it sparked an idea for their daughter Mollie and her cousin Lexi Cole: a Christmas craft fair to benefit the International Mission Board.
With the recent IMB financial/personnel cuts in mind, the 11-year-olds enlisted the help of their church — Gentilly Baptist Church in New Orleans — and set a goal of $1,000 for the Dec. 5 event. With donated crafts, baked goods, garden plants and other items, the fair netted $1,067.
“I was so excited,” said Pam Cole, grandmother of the two girls. “For them to have other people on their hearts at this time of the year was what was so special to me. They wanted to give and help the missionaries stay on the field.”
Staged less than a month after the girls approached pastor Ken Taylor with the idea, the craft fair drew nearly 80 in attendance, said Dennis Cole, associate pastor and the girls’ grandfather. Taylor and Cole are both professors at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Pre-teen girls at the church made ornaments and crocheted bracelets. Children age 4 to 10 contributed crafts such as jingle bell necklaces and nativity scenes made from tongue depressors.
One item sold at the craft fair was an acrylic painting by Hannah Scarbro, a college art major, NOBTS student and daughter of former IMB missionaries in the Philippines.
The event was publicized on social media and in the local newspaper. The girls put up flyers at the nearby NOBTS campus.
Mollie said she and her cousin thought of the idea in part because a longtime friend, Sandra*, now serving with the IMB, recently had returned to her home church.
“One of our missionaries who used to go to our church told us how it is important to give money to the missionaries,” Mollie said.
“When people stop giving, then less people get to know the Good News,” Lexi added.
Pam Cole said her family, along with church members, frequently wear the “Not On Our Watch – Support the International Mission Board” T-shirts designed and printed by an NOBTS student and others, with proceeds going to the IMB.
The T-shirts, sold on campus during NOBTS’ Global Missions Week in early November, reflected a rhetorical answer of “Not on our watch” to whether Southern Baptists would allow personnel to come home in light of Jesus’ commission to send workers into the harvest field.
Elizabeth Terrill said her daughter came to her two weeks before the Christmas market and asked why missionaries are wanted on the field, but people are unwilling to support them financially.
“In that moment, I knew that she really grasped the issue at hand and that it was really weighing on her heart,” Elizabeth Terrill said. “Watching them has been affirmation that we as parents and as a church are having a lasting effect on these children and they in turn are having an effect on the Kingdom.”
With the NOBTS campus one mile from the church, Taylor said the girls grew up learning about missions and being exposed to missionaries.
“They spurred our church to action and we were all impacted,” Taylor said. “A small dream of these two girls encouraged many in the church to come up with things we could make or grow to sell. I think this will become a missions tradition in our church.”
The girls already are making plans for the next year’s market, Elizabeth Terrill said, adding, “I can’t wait to see how God will continue to use them.”
*Name changed for security purposes.