In October of 2007, Cindy Stitt and Mary Crews were both left sleepless on the same night, both praying for a young boy named Connor Lint who had a brain tumor, both feeling a not-so-gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit to do something more with their individual prayers, something collective, something new and different. The next morning at their monthly Monday quilting meeting, when along with a group of dedicated women from the church, they made quilts for the babies in Child Protective Services, Cindy and Mary found one another, each with a desire to share what the Lord had asked them to do the night before. Much to their surprise, they had heard the same thing: start a prayer quilt ministry, begin with Connor, do it now.
Hearing such a clear calling from the Lord is one thing, knowing what to do with it is another. They realized, however, that their simultaneous sleepless nights could be no coincidence, and even though both had very full plates between work and volunteer responsibilities, and neither knew exactly how to make a prayer quilt ministry happen, they approached then Director of Congregational Care, Nancy Andres, with their idea. When Nancy said she had been praying over the need for just such a ministry, Mary and Cindy realized that regardless of their uncertainties, this idea was from the heart of God and that they would need to figure it out.
They began with a quilt topper they had saved for some reason: “We had put it aside because the fire engines were so cute; turns out it was supposed to be for Connor. Fire trucks were his favorite,” explained Mary. Together they made it into a quilt, and that first prayer quilt was draped on the prayer rail in the sanctuary so that congregants could tie a knot on the quilt, and while doing so, say a prayer of healing for Connor. After many knots were tied and prayers were lifted, that quilt was given to Connor, a tangible expression of the love and prayers of his church family.
To date, Cindy, Mary and around 40 women who meet to iron, cut, sew, and tie fabric into quilts the first Monday of every month, have made and given away 754 prayer quilts. Some of those quilts have traveled as far away as Africa. Cindy explains the rules that help them keep this ministry true to its original purpose of blessing others to the Glory of God: 1.) Permission must be given by the quilt recipient before the congregation prays over the quilt. 2.) No money can be accepted for a quilt--they are a gift from the congregation. 3.) It’s about the prayers, not about the quilt. Even though some of the quilt recipients believe the quilts are somehow “magic,” Cindy and Mary know that it’s the prayers of the people of God, the comfort of knowing those prayers have been lifted on the recipient’s behalf, that makes the prayer quilts such a gift of faith for others.
Lovingly referred to by Pastor Ben as “the sweatshop for Jesus on the third floor,” this group of women have seen God be faithful to their calling from the very beginning. “When we didn’t have money to buy more fabric, someone would hand us a check on Sunday morning,” explains Mary. “And when we moved into a new room and needed to purchase cabinets to store our supplies, God provided donors to make it happen.” Cindy added, “We’ve learned that God will provide. He’s been with us the whole time.”
These two women have been faithful to what can often be a difficult ministry; after all, they hear about people in crisis early and often, and as they work on quilts, they are ever-mindful of the hurting hands that will soon hold them. They have become close friends over the years of ministry together, and they grew teary-eyed as they talked of this time coming to an end. Cindy and her husband are moving to Altus, Oklahoma, this spring to be near their kids and grandkids. And while the move seems well-timed in the life of her family, Cindy will miss her quilting sisters and the good work they do together. Fellow quilter, Jackie Graf, will take up the mantle of leadership with Mary, and the beautiful, meaningful ministry of prayer quilts will continue.
If you would like to be part of the Prayer Quilt Ministry or would like to request a quilt for someone, please contact Debbie Snider, Care and Community Coordinator,