As Katherine Jackson listened to a podcast in April 2018, she learned about a program that helps refugee women learn job skills and earn an income within a community. This sparked an idea.
Being an English as a second language (ESL) teacher, Katherine saw the need in her own community for refugee women to improve their English skills, earn income, and become more independent. She shared her ideas with her friend Amy Rauch and her Summit small group
. Pretty soon, she and Amy had an outline for Hope Threads
, an educational workforce program for refugee women.
But Hope Threads wouldn't only meet physical needs. It would be a unique opportunity to share the gospel and form meaningful relationships with women in their community.
The prospect felt daunting at first since all the women needed childcare for the program to work. Yet, God provided for this need through two former teachers who organized a children’s curriculum while the women took sewing classes.
God also provided sewing machines, fabric, and other supplies through many people from the Summit. And in July 2018, Hope Threads launched their first six-week beginner sewing class.
They organized their first pop-up shop in a local park a few months later and sold out of all their products. Since then, they have started selling in local boutiques and doing more pop-up shops in the area.
Now, Hope Threads is a flourishing program where women take ESL classes and learn to sew and crochet baby products like teething toys and burp cloths. Their children learn Bible lessons while they work. And they are seeing God do more than they could have dreamed.
A primary goal of Hope Threads is to provide a steady income for the women in the program. And one of them, Roya, received her first paycheck ever.
“She had tears in her eyes and was just beaming,” said Katherine. “It’s a huge step in independence for them.”
Another woman with three young sons has the goal of opening her own tailor shop, just like her mother.
In addition to job skills, the women also have a time to pray for one another and read Scripture. Katherine said at first the women were hesitant, but relationships are forming.
“I’ve learned a lot about just loving people where they are. About being patient and trusting the Lord,” said Katherine.
Many of these women are Muslim, so their exposure to the gospel is a bit miraculous, Katherine explains.
“We just want them to feel loved and not that they have to go to our church and be a Christian,” said Katherine.
Her next goals for Hope Threads are to grow their exposure and give the women more dependable working hours to increase their income. She also wants to enroll more women in the program and start new beginner sewing classes.
Katherine encourages others at the Summit to step outside their comfort zone and seek out relationships with people unlike them, all so the gospel can be shared.
“I have been given so much so that I can give in return.”