STEELVILLE – The masks they had on hand that day were made specifically for members of their church. Hand-delivering them had allowed Lois and Don Wissman, pastor at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church here, to check in on their mostly senior adult congregation since the COVID-19 social distancing regulations went into effect.
But when they arrived at one church member’s housing complex, they were stopped by a small group of people who asked if they could have a mask as well.
“That day I only had enough to cover our church family so I had to say no, but I told them we would return,” Lois said. “We instantly saw how God could use these masks as a witnessing opportunity. If you went door to door to give out gospel tracts, people wouldn’t want them. But if you offered a free mask and attached a tract or an invitation to church, they would gladly accept it.”
Realizing the project was much too big for their church to handle alone, Lois sent out a simple pattern and a plea for other churches and associations to make masks and help meet the need.
“We are one of those old country churches where our members are mostly elderly,” she said. “Many of them gave away their sewing machines long ago. I’ve made 104 masks so far, but I know there are other groups who have taken this on and made a lot more.”
Personally, Lois has given her made-with-love masks to truck drivers, mail carriers, grocery store workers, and many other appreciative people who consider the masks a small token of peace during these unprecedented times.
“We were able to get a mask to one new mother in Washington, Mo., who has a very small baby and knew she would have to get out and be at the doctor’s office in the coming months,” Lois said. “I made one for her and her husband. She was very thankful and told me how she never learned to sew so she couldn’t make one herself.”
And that young mother wasn’t the only person who spoke up about their lack of sewing skills. Since handing out the masks, Lois and Don have heard many stories of people who were never taught the life-sustaining skills that former generations were brought up learning.
“We live in a throw-away society and many people don’t know how to do even simple tasks like sew up a hem or replace a button,” she said.
Now they, along with other nearby churches and associations, are brainstorming ways they could possibly teach these life skills as a free ministry in the future. Lois believes teaching skills like sewing, car maintenance, gardening, canning, cooking and even raising small livestock would meet a real need for people.
“Many of our older members have been doing these things for years and they have valuable knowledge that needs to be passed along,” she said. “These are real ways people can save money and take care of their families when money is tight and employment is uncertain. This could be another way we can be a blessing to people and love them like Jesus.”