This program was written by a group of three wonderful women.
Major Antonietta Rosamilia, Raissa Henry-DiCaterina, Major Margareta Ivarsson
People all over the world carry bags. It may be backpack, duffle bag, handbag, clutch, or purse. A woman’s bag has many uses. It may contain items useful for emergencies, snacks to satisfy hunger, personal items, medication, or a Bible for spiritual encouragement. A blessing bag is different in it that is designed to touch hearts, promote healing, and meet personal needs.
Invite the women to bring their favorite handbags. Display them on a table. Ask the women to share their choice of a particular bag. Is it significant because of where it was purchased or who gave it to them?
Concept and Steps for Beginning a WM Blessing Bag Service Ministry
Scripture teaches us to be ready to share what we have and do good, blessing others. Four steps will help outline a solid plan for a Blessing Bag Service Ministry.
- Build a team. Identify individuals with the same passion for the community, willing to work alongside a team to bring change.
- Identify the need. We saw a need for an outreach ministry to women working in massage parlors and strip clubs. Through training and research, we identified specific locations that had been left out of other community work.
- Find and learn about local support for the issue. Join local task forces and learn how they are dealing with the issue. Through discussions with local partners, your team will be able to identity a unique mission location.
- Meet them where they are. This will be different in each community. The motivation behind the blessing bag ministry is to step out of the corps building and go to the people wherever they may be. You may encounter them on the sidewalk or inside their workplace. The gift bags will represent your love, prayer and preparation. The simple encounter with the recipient of the gift will be a blessing to both the giver and the given.
(Acronym for Purposed, Empowered, Appreciated, Respected, Loved)
P.E.A.R.L. Essence is an outreach to women working in common sexually exploited fields. Monthly, a group of men and women distribute blessing bags to the women working in massage parlors and strip clubs. In preparation, the group spends time in prayer and worship with the motivation being to share God’s love with others. In various ways individuals support the ministry. Some do so through a makeup drive collecting nail polish, lip gloss or jewelry for the gift bags. Others organize prayer and worship nights for those caught in Human Trafficking, often during the outreach time. While the women go into the businesses, male members of P.E.A.R.L. Essence assist by navigating logistics, travel and providing security.
What’s in Your Bag?
Read Matthew. 26:6-13 (NLT).
This narrative from Matthew leads up to the death and resurrection of Jesus. The woman, identified as Mary in John 12, came to Jesus and poured expensive perfume over His head. She was preparing Him for burial before anyone was aware that He was about to die. When one of Jesus’ disciples, Judas Iscariot, criticized her actions, Jesus rebuked him and stated that she has done a beautiful thing.
The Radical Love of Mary
We first meet Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet just listening to Him (Luke 10:39). To her, hospitality meant giving more attention to the guest and any needs He might have than the meal that would be served. Her actions displeased her sister, Martha, who asked Jesus to tell her sister to help her in the preparations for the meal. Jesus gently rebuked Martha, telling her that Mary had chosen what was better. How often are we like Martha, so busy that we fail to take time to sit at Jesus feet and just listen to what He wants to share with us.
Later, Jesus paid another visit to the home of Martha and Mary. Again she was found at Jesus’ feet, this time washing His feet with perfume and wiping them with her hair. It seems she understood better than the disciples that Jesus was going to die. Mary broke her alabaster jar pouring out her gift. A usual gift would have been around one ounce; hers was12 times that much. Not holding back, she gave lavishly to Jesus, offering her expensive gift without fear. In this unselfish act her only concern was to please Jesus, offering herself in complete surrender.
When visiting clients in massage parlors we can identify with Mary’s sense of urgency. Those who are there may never experience kindness and human dignity if we did not boldly reach out to them. Preparation before the visit is required. We must sit in silence and wait for the Holy Spirit’s direction. He will guide us to those who are open to the good news of Jesus.
What lessons can be learned from Mary’s actions? She surrendered her life to the Lord. She wanted nothing else than to sit at His feet and learn from Him. She seemed to be more aware of what the future would hold for Jesus and that His time with them on earth was coming to an end. She showed great love by lavishly anointing His head with expensive perfume. Some thought her act was extravagant, a waste of money, but Jesus said it was an act of worship that would be told everywhere as an example of costly service.
Are we so busy serving the Lord that it has become a barrier to knowing Him personally? Are we listening to what He wants to say to us? Are we asking for His directions, or following our own agenda? What gifts has Jesus given you that He wants you to share with others? Take time to just sit at Jesus feet and listen before you act. Out of the abundant blessings that He has given to you, what can you share with others?