BLUEFIELD COLLEGE STUDENTS WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE DRESSES FOR AFRICA MISSION PROJECT TO SEW PILLOWCASES INTO DRESSES FOR UNDERPRIVILEGED GIRLS IN AFRICA.
That’s what 20 Bluefield College students did when they participated in a first-time mission project to provide pillowcase dresses to the Baptist Congress in South Africa. The 20 BC students made a total of 23 dresses that will go to underprivileged little girls in Africa.
The Dresses for Africa project developed on the Bluefield College campus this past spring when BC president Dr. David Olive introduced Christian studies professor Dr. Shawn White to Deborah Upton, who was involved with the larger project led by the Baptist General Association of Virginia’s Baptist World Alliance.
Since the Dresses for Africa venture aligned completely with the Bluefield College vision to “graduate servant leaders who understand their life calling and transform the world,” Dr. Olive, Dr. White and other organizers thought the project would be a great opportunity for BC students to use their gifts to serve the needs of others and to grow one step closer to becoming a transformational leader.
“Serving others is important, because our calling is to be servants of God,” said Elizabeth Decker, who participated in the Dresses for Africa project. “We don’t have to do that calling out of the country. We can do it right here in our community or even in our homes. We are here to show the love of Christ to others because Christ showed His love for us by dying on the cross for our sins. My passion is showing others God’s love.”
Bluefield’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) sponsored the Dresses for Africa campaign on campus, gathering other BC students together to sew pillowcases into dresses. BCM is a fellowship of college students who are seeking to find and implement God’s purpose for their lives and the world. Along with ministry and mission projects, like Dresses for Africa, BCM hosts Bible Studies and social events and participates in conventions, conferences and retreats.
Through the Dresses for Africa project, organizers said the students not only learned a new skill, but also experienced what it’s like to be a servant leader. In addition, they participated in a selfless project, creating 23 pillowcase dresses that will benefit little girls they will most likely never meet.
“I decided to participate because I took a missions trip to Uganda, Africa, the summer before my senior year,” said Decker. “I had seen the poverty that was there and the living conditions they had.”
Decker said that while in Uganda she visited an orphanage where her group of missionaries actually distributed pillowcase dresses to girls and shirts to boys.
“They felt like the richest kids in the neighborhood,” she said about the experience. “I could picture these kids’ faces when I was helping make the dresses.”
Joining Decker as BCM leaders on the project were Tyler Hutton, Chelsea Lester, Dasha Osborn, Keion Robinson, David White and Will Workman. Assisting with the project, since few of the BC students had experience with needlework, were Princeton, West Virginia, crafters Jill Blizzard and three of her co-workers from the Lamb’s Tail, along with Lisa Lambert from the Sewing Gallery.
Dr. White, who not only assisted in organizing the project on campus, but also participated in the event, said he was thrilled to see students coming together and willing to learn a new skill to benefit someone else.
“The letter of James addresses this,” said Dr. White. “‘Faith without works is dead.’ If we talk about our faith, but never demonstrate how our faith reaches beyond ourselves to the service of the others in God’s world, how genuine is our faith?”
For some of the BC students, the Dresses for Africa project was just one of many mission experiences on campus that is preparing them for their ultimate goal of helping people full time.
“Service and missions are very important,” said Osborn, a senior communications major. “I feel like God put people like me to make a difference in other people’s lives. There is always a story behind all of the volunteer projects I take on, and they always amaze me. This particular project with the dresses showed me that the smallest of things can make a difference.”