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

It started as an effort to help a friend and turned into a loving ministry.

The Caring Shirts Ministry Baptist Church in Bovina manufactures shirts for a specific purpose: to help people receiving treatment such as chemotherapy or medical services cope better and feel better about themselves.

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

“It gives you back your dignity,” Oldenburg granddaughter Dani Oldenburg said. “Just so I can wear shorts and a shirt; to give you a little modesty.

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

“I have been in the hospital for a very long time and hospital gowns are embarrassing,” she said. “My colleagues at 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 had chemotherapy for five days in a row for 24 hours. They wouldn’t pick you up unless you change your bag. The shirts made for me had plastic snaps that allowed me to do MRIs and CT scans and tests.

His colleagues, Dani said, gave him seven shirts. It inspired Katherine.

“I loved them, the nurses loved them and I think my grandmother felt a little bit useless with me in the hospital, so that 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 just loved them and that’s when it took off.

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

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

Requests arrive by phone, mail or via the ministry’s Facebook page.

When a request comes in, Katherine says, she writes it down in a book with the waist up, where the shirt should be open, and then marks the shirt. What happens next is an assembly line type process involving several people from the department.

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

“We cut them on the side, we cut them on the front, the shoulders, we are going to cut both sides, we are going to cut this shirt to access any problem that someone has above the waist”, Katherine said.

“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 need. “

The shirts are placed in a white envelope and mailed, and a “Jesus Loves You” sticker is placed on each shirt, Katherine said. Information about the ministry 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 are working week to week,” she said. “It’s a constant movement in this kitchen. “

She said the shirts are bought locally, with the exception of the 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 have never had to ask for money once.”

Rev. Randy Burns, pastor of Bovina Baptist Church, calls on the ministry “absolutely fantastic. “

“We practice in our church and preach that God gives all of us 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, they discovered a need, not only for Dani, but for many others in the same situation. So, this ministry arose out of this need that they discovered from their own experience, and we saw how God took it from there. It is absolutely phenomenal and as a pastor it has been an incredible joy to see what God has done through it.

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

Charles K. Eckert