APPLIED CHRISTIANITY

Crafting
8
        Chef.  Tailor.  Artisan.  Craftsman.  Perhaps you prefer to do things with your hands more than your intellect.  You'd
rather make something than read something.  Or you get home from work and you need something to do to unwind that's
not mental.  Perhaps you're retired and don't take life so seriously any more.  You have abilities to do your Christian works
right there at home.  

        Some Bible men used their building and carving and designing skills for others.  Bazaleel and Aholiab were famous
for using their skills on furniture, engravings, and tapestries for the tabernacle (Exodus 35:30-35).  

         Some Bible women used their homemaking talents and abilities to help others.  The widow at Zaraphath baked for
Elijah and gave him a room to stay in during a drought (1 Kings 17:7-24).  The Shunamite woman provided a room for the
prophet Elisha to stay in whenever he was in the area (2 Kings 4:8-37).  Peter's mother-in-law fed Jesus and his
companions (Luke 4:38,39).  Whenever Jesus was in Bethany, he went to the home of Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42).  
Dorcas sewed clothing for the poor (Acts 9:36-41).  The elect or chosen lady to whom John wrote his second published
letter was thanked for taking in traveling gospel teachers.  

        Now, how can these talents be used today for Christian service?  First, let's talk about what women like to do.  

        Dorcas, the account in Acts 9 says, was full of good works and helping the poor.  When she died, she was laid out in
an upper chamber.  Her friends learned that the apostle Peter was in a nearby town, so sent for him to come quickly.  Were
they wanting him to come in time for the funeral, or were they hoping he could perform a miracle?  We do not know.    

         But Peter must have thought a great deal of Dorcas, for he rushed to where she was as quickly as he could.  When
he arrived, there were many widows there in that upper chamber weeping for her.  They showed Peter the coats and
dresses Dorcas had made for them.    

        There must have been something very special about Dorcas.  For Peter asked for a few moments alone with her.  
Then he knelt down, prayed fervently for her soul to return, and it did.  He told Dorcas to rise up, she opened her eyes, sat
up, and Peter gave her his hand for her to stand up.  Then he opened the door where her friends were waiting, and
presented her alive to them!  The one chosen to be brought back from death was a woman who made clothing for the
poor!  
         Those of you who sew have much you can do.  So first, let us investigate where some good places are to get your
yard goods.  If you live near a fabric mill, you may ask them for their rejected yardage and tell them it is for church work.  
(They can deduct this donation from their taxes.)  

        You could also make it known in your congregation that you need fabric scraps.  Perhaps you could place a box at an
appropriate place for people to put their scraps if they don't see you personally.  Some fairly new articles of clothing are
sometimes torn beyond repair, but the material is still good.  Or perhaps your Christian friends have articles of clothing that
are out of style, such as suits and ties, that could be cut up and remade into something else.  And of course you know that
many children's clothes can be made from scraps left over from making larger items, and also from larger clothes cut
down.    
         These clothes could be put in the church's "clothes closet," they could be sent to children's homes, state hospitals,
nursing homes, shelters for the homeless, or sent overseas for a missionary to distribute among the poor there.  
Remember those missionaries who live where there are few if any clothing stores from which to purchase their own
clothing.  
         Quilts are another need among the underprivileged, both in our own nation and in nations overseas.  It takes more
time to make one quilt, but smaller scraps left over from making clothing can be recycled and put to use.  Quilts can be
made on a sewing machine; they don't have to be a work of art when numbers is more important.  Any way you look at it,
however, quilts will take more time to make than clothing.  But just remember that, whereas the clothing will only last awhile.  
The quilts will undoubtedly serve their good purpose for many years.  

        You can recycle old nylons and use them for stuffing little play animals.  These quiet little toys can be used in the
church nursery for crying babies.  They can be kept on hand for gifts for children whom you help with clothing.  They could
be given to the teacher of very young tots to use as gifts.  

        Quiet books can be made to give little children to look at during worship services.  Make the pages out of white muslin
or oil cloth.  On one page you could sew a pocket.  On another page you could sew a piece of material shaped like a dress
with a real zipper all the way up.  On the next page you could sew a piece of material shaped like a shirt and put real
buttons and button holes on it.  Next you could get some fuzzy material and make a glove for the child to put its hand in.  
Then you could have a little Raggedy-Ann type face with yarn hair to braid and button nose and eyes.  On another page
you could have a pretend shoe with a real shoe lace in it so the child can learn to tie.  Use your imagination, and you
probably can come up with some other ideas that will intrigue little ones and make them nice and quiet.  

        You can make lap robes and shawls for older people in nursing homes and hospitals.  If you can knit, you can make
sweaters for babies, children, and adults.  You can make little booties to be taken by the nursery teacher as gifts from the
church to new parents in the community; this would show them we love their little babies and would like to teach them how
much God loves them too.  

        Make costumes for the children's Bible classes so they can act out their Bible stories with a little more realism.  
Bible-times robes are not hard to make.  Sandals could be made of cardboard and shoe laces or yarn.  

        If you can crochet or embroider, you can make bookmarks for Bibles to be used as gifts to newcomers, visitors,
newlyweds, people with new babies, birthdays, perfect attendance, Vacation Bible School awards, etc.  Bookmarks are
small and do not take long to make, but can be used and appreciated by everyone.  

        Make curtains for classrooms.  Curtains could be kept on hand to help people "starting over" after a fire, tornado, etc.
or financial setback.  

        In the midst of all your house caring, don't forget to be on the lookout for anyone who does not know how to use skills
you have and would like to learn.  There are things they possibly want to do for their family in this area.  Or they may be
looking for ways to help others from their homes.  Take time to invite them to your home and teach them to be a worker
too.  

        Perhaps cooking is the thing you love to do.  Teach with cookies.  The nursery teachers always have a snack during
their class time with the little ones.  Find out what they will be talking about each week, and help teach them with your
cookies.  If the lesson is about Adam and Eve, make your cookies in the shape of a tree.  If it is about an animal such as a
sheep, try to locate a cookie cutter in that shape.  If the lesson has something to do with the temple or tabernacle, make
your cookies in the shape of an altar.  If it is about Jonah or the fishing apostles or the miracle of fishes, make your cookies
look like fish.  If it is about the death of Jesus, make them in the shape of a cross.  If it is about Paul's missionary journey,
make them look like boats.  The ideas for lessons are endless and very meaningful.  

         During Vacation Bible School time, there is a need for many dozens of cookies every day.  You could make and
freeze them during the winter and spring months in preparation for this.  And keep in mind youth activities such as Bible
Bowls, youth rallies, encampments, "half-time" football parties.  

        When there is a birthday in a nursing home or children's home, or among those in your congregation without a family
nearby such as widow, widower, college student or service person, you could bake a birthday cake for them.  Keep on hand
a sugar-free cake recipe for older people prone to diabetes.  

        Whenever you learn of someone who is ill, bake a casserole for them.  In some instances a roast chicken is very
economical and nutritious; but of course there are numerous other good dishes.  Try to include fresh vegetables and/or
fruit.  If there is a dessert included, try to make it nutritious.  People under strain always need extra nutrition to help keep
them from becoming too run down physically and mentally.  This also applies when there is a death in someone's family,
and they do not feel like cooking; or you can take your food to the funeral dinner.  Be sure to put your name on the dish so
they will know to whom to return it, or use disposable dishes.  If you cannot deliver the food yourself, ask a Christian
neighbor if they can.  

        Share recipes that are sugar free, salt free, fat free, or have an extra ordinary amount of vitamins/minerals.  You
could make a point to look through cook books to gather up a collection.  Then you or a friend could type them up for a
little booklet to be distributed or left on a table for people to pick up.  Or you may wish to put a 5x7 recipe card on the
church bulletin board for people to copy, and change it once a week.    

        Have someone in your home for a meal.  Do this as often as possible.  In so many homes these days, both husband
and wife and working out of the home, and have so little time to have company.  Hospitality is mentioned over and over as a
sign of a good Jew or a good Christian throughout the Bible.  Invite newcomers, new Christians, old friends, college
students, service people, foster children, elders, senior citizens, people in nursing homes, just anyone you can think of.  
The meal does not have to be elaborate.  You may invite two or three ladies for a late breakfast, or two or three widowed
friends for lunch, or a family for a picnic in the backyard.  It is hard to get out of the rut of inviting the same old friends all
the time, but is worth it and a great blessing to everyone.  

        Whenever possible, invite more than one person or family at a time.  This will not only help you get to know them
better, but it will help your guests get to know each other better too.  Try to invite families who know each other as
acquaintances only, so a closer friendship can be developed.  No telling how many lifetime Christian friendships you can
encourage in your home.  

        If you do any baking
en masse, the church may wish to write to a flour company and sugar company and tell them that
you are using their product for charity work, and ask if there would be a way you could obtain their product at a discount or
even as a donation.  Again, as with yard goods, this company can write these off in their income tax, so you could possibly
be doing them a favor too.  

        Send cookies to college students and service people whom you know of away from home.  Even some county jails will
accept cookies for inmates if you know of anyone in jail who needs encouragement.  The cookies may go fast once they
arrive, but the blessings will last and last.  One of the best ways to pack those being mailed long distance is to freeze them
first, then put them in a plastic bag, and surrounded them with popcorn.  This should keep them both fresh and crumble
free.  

        And, as with those who sew, if you know of a young married woman who does not know how to cook very well, invite
her over and ask her if she would like to cook some things for some people with you.  Then at the same time you could
teach her some basic recipes.  If you do very much baking for others, you probably don't use very complicated recipes.  
When you do teach another, you don't necessarily have to let her know that you know she can't cook.  Cook with her as a
partner, not as a master.  And, by the way, more young men are "batching" until they get their career going before settling
down, and would love some pointers and practical recipes.  

        Now let's talk about what the men usually like to do.  Do you make woodworking knick-knacks, ceramics, dolls,
maccrome, etc.?  Many people with such talents find themselves making so many they end up wondering what to do with
them all, and perhaps finally put them in the top of a closet.  Let the teachers of the Bible classes know they are available
for awards or birthday presents.  

        Are you good at making or repairing household items?  If there is a storage room available, work could be done
ahead of time to help people who have been hit by disaster such as fire or tornado or financial setback.  

        If you have access to some older furniture, you can take the old finish off and put a new one on to make them look
practically like new.  You could help develop a stored supply of basic items such as a sofa, kitchen table, a few chairs, a few
beds, a dresser, dishes, silverware, linens.  Whatever you can store, this will some day be a blessing to some family in the
midst of crisis to give them a feeling of home and rest and dignity.  

        Can you repair toys and make them look like new?  Can you create toys out of blocks of wood, pieces of rug, yard
goods, buttons,and what-nots?  You could send these toys to children's homes and foster homes.  You could give a few to
people receiving help with clothing or furniture.  You could make them available to the Bible school teachers for awards or
birthdays.  Jesus loved the little children.  He still does - through you.  

        Do you like to carve things out of wood?  Someone can probably pick up a large supply of small board ends from
construction sites, cabinet shops, school wood shops, etc. that would otherwise be burned.  Recycle these into sheep,
houses, trees, anything that could remind us of God's wonderful world.    

        Using a combination of craft skills, you could make a Bible-times village.  Or a replica of the temple grounds; i.e.,
buildings, furniture, altars, tapestries, priests' clothing.  Or you could make a doll house to be used for application stories in
the younger Bible classes.  

        Are you artistic?  Make greeting cards from plain typing paper, and at the bottom of the pictures write, "Painted with
love especially for you by your friend _________."  Then leave the inside of the card blank and send personal messages to
some of those people mentioned in the letter writing chapter.  Or you could give them to your Christian friends who cannot
afford to purchase but send a lot of notes and cards.  

        Or you could make bulletin board cutouts to be used in various classrooms or a large one in your church foyer.  
Occasionally there may be a need for a drawing for your church bulletin to get across a certain point or advertise a coming
special event.  

        You could make yourself available to teachers to create simple Bible application crafts for the children, or for flip
charts for songs.  A sign-up sheet could be set up so you would know when teachers needed materials and they could get
with you to explain what they need.  Or you could go through the Bible and select basic children's lessons always taught at
some time and create teaching materials to be kept in a teachers' supply room or sent to missionaries.  Also, there may be
some Bible supply publishers who would like to publish your creations.           

There are many things you can do at home.  And an additional blessing is that your family and neighbors who drop by will
see you will be able to see Christianity at work.  If you have children watching you, perhaps they could help you a little,
thereby learning to do Christian works and see how much fun it is at their impressionable age.  Or friends and relatives
stopping by to see you might be encouraged to join you.  The old fashioned quilting bees and house raisings were fun as
well as a blessing, and you could end up with something similar at your kitchen table or garage.  

        One way or another, others who see you will learn and be blessed by your example.  Yes, things in your home are not
just things.  They are hidden blessings just waiting for an opportunity to fly to the waiting hearts and lives of others.
H  O  M  E
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