Living Unleashed for Refugee Women

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Living Unleashed for Refugee Women
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Looking back, Christy McDonald knows it had to be God.

She remembers first learning about Southeast Christian Church Mission Partner Maya Collection from an article in The Southeast Outlook last December and immediately being drawn to the refugee women who meet in Louisville’s Beechmont neighborhood to handcraft and sell jewelry, soap, purses, keychains, and more to support their families.

Christy thought some of the items would make great Christmas presents, but the holidays passed before she was able to make any purchases. However, in February, as she was looking for birthday gifts for her twin sisters, she again was drawn to the handcrafted items and the stories of the refugee women who made them.

“I thought that was pretty amazing, especially since where they meet and do their fellowship is right down the street literally from where I grew up,” she said, adding her father still lives in the area.

Yet, it wasn’t until a few weeks later, during Southeast’s inaugural Unleashed Conference in early March, that Christy began thinking about serving with Maya Collection.

Like many Southeast members, Christy, who previously volunteered with the church’s Children’s Ministry, was itching to connect with others in a serving capacity after having spent much of the previous year at home due to COVID-19.

“I was excited to hear about the opportunities (presented through the Unleashed Conference), because I felt like I had gotten a little complacent, especially during the pandemic,” she said.

Christy said she was excited to see Maya Collection listed among the local Mission Partners when she logged into the online conference and immediately clicked to view the organization’s video session.

“I feel like that’s totally God pointing me in that direction,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard to discern because of all my other distractions in my life, but all these little things I don’t think were coincidence, because Maya Collection kept popping up here and there.”

Soon after the conference, Maya Collection Director Karen Aroh reached out to Christy, and a few short weeks later, Christy was engaging with the refugee women she had read about.

Christy and other volunteers assist the women—who have fled their homeland because of danger of persecution based on their race, religion, or nationality—in utilizing their native skills to fashion the high-quality artisan products that are sold locally and online.

Perhaps more important, though, are the relationships they are building with the women through the fellowship and Bible study they share each time they meet.

“I’m just there to encourage, be a friendly face, and love on them,” said Christy, who, having survived breast cancer several years ago, knows firsthand the positive impact encouragement and love from others can have.

In fact, the word maya means love in Nepali, and while language can be a barrier, Christy said they’ve been able to overcome verbal hurdles through just that—love, specifically the love of Jesus. She added that when she prays with the women, she is humbled because it’s a reminder that the Gospel is for everyone.

“It’s for all people, and only God can do that,” she said. “Like changing these women’s hearts, only Jesus can do this. So, I was just moved that here we are in the south end of Louisville, Kentucky with women from across the globe praying to the one Lord and Savior.”

While she is thankful to be able to serve the women at Maya Collection, Christy said she is the one being blessed.

“It’s funny, by me being obedient and doing this, maybe it’s not about so much of that,” she said. “It’s about what the Lord is still working on in me.”