That’s Grace

May 11, 2016

Ben Riggs

Women, sewing machines, and awkwardness filled a room in the Tres Reyes Community Center. It was day one of fourteen sewing classes. Eight women quietly sat around a long table wondering what was going to happen next. Truth is, so did everyone else.

Master seamstress, Heidi Duncan, had flown to Cancun to teach the classes. The goal -– to empower women in Tres Reyes — was exciting, but felt like a bit of a gamble.

They started with the basics. Heidi patiently answered questions, graciously offered advice, and poured out encouragement when frustration mounted over a bad stitch. As she came alongside the women, they began to take on more than sewing skills. They saw creativity instead of a to-do list. They dreamed of making quinceañera dresses instead of dwelling on life’s struggles. They worked with each other instead of around each other. Within days it was clear. These were more than sewing classes.

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As the women learned to sew, God began a different kind of sowing. Around a simple needle and thread, God was growing a creative community. Laughter silenced awkwardness. Creativity overwhelmed anxiety. Collaboration retired isolation. And purpose began to dwell where doubt resided. This room, once marked by awkwardness, timidity, and questions, had become a ground zero of empowerment, creativity, and community — the Kingdom.

Jesus says His Kingdom is like a farmer who after planting seed was baffled to see a sprout emerge. Think about it: after all his sowing, sweating, and watering, the farmer saw the beginning of a harvest, ran a hand through his hair and thought, “That’s wild.” The Kingdom requires work, awkward moments, and risk. It requires grit, but it grows by grace.

For two weeks, Heidi expertly spread and compassionately watered seed. Since then, God’s been graciously growing a garden. Today, laughter and the hum of sewing machines fill the same room in the community center. The women come when they can, fire up the machines all on their own, talk about life, and come alongside each other.

All we can do is watch this sprout of something greater, run our hands through our hair and think, “That’s grace.”

 

Ben and his wife Emily Riggs are site-staff with Back2Back Cancun. He serves with missions teams, Back2Back's Child Sponsorship Program, and tries to keep up with the stories God is writing in Cancun. He's baffled by the grandeur of words, story, and their Author. He's also overly attached to coffee, Charlie Brown, conversations, and story-based blogs.

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