Shaped for Ministry: Bovina Baptist Church Mission Brings Comfort to Cancer Patients – The Vicksburg Post

Shaped for Ministry: Bovina Baptist Church Mission Brings Comfort to Cancer Patients

Posted 1:27 p.m. on Friday, May 21, 2021

It started as an effort to help a friend and grew into a ministry of love.

The Caring Shirts Ministry at Bovina Baptist Church makes shirts for a specific purpose: to help people receiving treatments like chemotherapy or medical services cope better with their situation and feel better about themselves.

“We send them out to anyone with a medical device above the waist,” said Katherine Oldenburg, who organized the ministry.

“It gives you back your dignity,” said Oldenburg’s granddaughter, Dani Oldenburg. “Just to be able to wear shorts and a shirt; to give you some modesty.

Dani speaks from experience. She received the first ministry shirts after being diagnosed with lymphoma.

“I was hospitalized for a very long time and hospital gowns are embarrassing,” she said. “My colleagues from Riverhills Bank got together and bought several shirts, and one of the women modified them with buttons on one side so I could take them off.

“I was hooked up to chemo for five days straight for 24 hours. They wouldn’t pick you up unless they changed the bag. The shirts made for me had plastic snaps which I allowed to do MRIs and CT scans and tests.

Her colleagues, Dani said, gave her seven shirts. It inspired Katherine.

“I loved them, the nurses loved them and I think my grandmother felt a bit useless with me in the hospital, so it was her way of helping others in the hospital,” Dani said. “It gave him a new purpose and something to do while I was in the hospital. We ended up donating the shirts to the hospital wing, and the patients loved them and it all took off at from there.

Katherine, her granddaughter said, got the church involved. Since the ministry began, Katherine said, 2,238 caring shirts in sizes ranging from 9 months to 5X have been sent to people in 47 states, four provinces of Canada, Ireland, Russia, South Africa and Australia.

The mission’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/caringshirts is full of comments and photographs of recipients wearing jerseys thanking the ministry. Katherine said many comments were grateful for the shirts “and that someone took the time to help someone we don’t really know.”

Requests come in by phone, mail or through the ministry’s Facebook page.

When a request comes in, Katherine said, she writes it down in a book with the size, where the shirt should be opened, and then marks the shirt. What happens next is an assembly line type process involving several people in the ministry.

The process begins and ends in Katherine’s kitchen, where the shirts are branded before being sent to other women’s groups who handle different phases of changing the shirts for the recipient before returning the shirts to Katherine’s home, where the snaps are installed.

“We cut them in the side, we cut them in the front, the shoulders, we’re going to cut both sides, we’re going to cut this shirt to access any problem anyone has above the waist,” Katherine said.

“The shirts for women with breast cancer open in the front and have a pocket for their drains,” Dani said. “They are all slightly different depending on the needs.”

The shirts are placed in a white envelope and mailed, and a “Jesus loves you” sticker is placed on each shirt, Katherine said. Ministry information and a copy of the Bible are also included.

“The sticker and the Bible are what we stand for and what we believe in,” she said.

“We work week to week,” she said. “It’s a constant movement in this kitchen.”

She said the shirts are sourced locally, except for 4X and 5X shirts, which are ordered. She added that she buys the shirts and other items and is reimbursed by the ministry.

“There’s never, ever a charge for a thoughtful shirt,” Katherine said. “We are funded entirely by love offerings and I’ve only ever had to ask for money once.”

Reverend Randy Burns, pastor of Bovina Baptist Church, calls the ministry”absolutely fantastic.”

“We practice in our church and we preach that God gives us all a shape for ministry, and one of those things is that God uses our experiences to shape us for ministry,” he said.

“With the experience of Dani and their family going through this, they discovered a need, not just for Dani, but for many other people in the same situation. So, this ministry was born out of this need that they discovered from their own experience, and we saw how God took it from there. It’s absolutely phenomenal and so, as a pastor, it’s been an incredible joy to see what God has done through it.

“It’s nice to have something that makes things a little easier for people who are going through chemotherapy or have life-threatening illnesses at different times. to give them some control,” Dani said. “I’m so glad my grandma took something that was so ugly for us and made it into something wonderful for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people.”

Charles K. Eckert