UPDATE: During the past few years we have had no one making the Love Bears for us, so we have not had the opportunity to give them away. We still have a few bears that we carry with us and love seeing the faces of those who receive them. Every now and then someone will tell us “I still have my bear.” It is such a joy to know that the bears have given such joy and remembrance of how much Jesus loves them. We would love for churches, youth groups, Bible studies and any other Christian groups to get the vision of how they could use the bears for outreach and ministry. The patterns for the bears and for a bib will remain on our website and, who knows, sometime in the days to come Father may bring someone to us who would want to make bears again. We stay open and available for whatever Father wants to do.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
In the fall of 2000, Charley and I visited with his cousin Ruby in Longview, Texas. We had enjoyed a close relationship with her and her husband for several years but in the last year that relationship had developed even closer. The Lord had told us that He was sending us to our family to re-establish relationships that because of family commitments and the miles between us the relationships had been stretched thin and needed to be strengthened.
We had a wonderful visit and as we shared what the Lord had us doing concerning the ministry, we shared a need. That need involved having something, a toy, to take to the missionaries to Mexico and others that they could pass on to little girls that they met as they ministered. We already had a wooden toy car that a dear friend was making for us to take to the ministries around the country but we had a need for something for a little girl. We had been praying for revelation of what that item would be.
As we shared, Ruby looked at her husband, Jim, and went into the other room. She came back with a small bear, without the stuffing and with one leg missing, that her Dad had had when he was in the nursing home. You could tell the bear had been well hugged and loved by its condition but she had kept this bear since her Dad's death in a very safe place. She shared the story of how her Dad received the bear and it so blessed our hearts. Here is part of what she shared.
One day her Dad had to be taken to the emergency room from the nursing home. He had Alzheimer's and could not keep his hands still. They noticed his hands and agitation as they worked with him. One of the attendants brought the cute little bear to him. It was just a simple little bear made out of unbleached muslin material, stuffed with polyester stuffing and had the eyes, nose and mouth drawn on with marker but that bear when placed in this sweet man's hands, brought comfort and gave him something to hold. He held it tight and worked over the legs, arms and body constantly. When they sent him back to the nursing home, the bear went with him and was with him until he tore the leg off of it. His daughter kept this bear as a reminder of her Dad not knowing that one day we would come to her house and have a need.
As we looked at that bear, we became so excited. This was something that anyone could make (see bear pattern) and the possibilities are endless as far as ministry opportunities. Ruby and Jim got excited also because this was something that they could do to touch peoples lives who are sick, have Alzheimer's, orphan children or children who have never had a new toy in their life. These bears were to be a gift just like the toy cars to whomever the Lord directed and the people told that this is a Gift from Jesus.
The Lord took this idea and continued to speak to Ruby and Jim. We heard from them once after our visit and they said we would not believe what the Lord had done with the idea He gave but they were not free to share at that time. We just continued to pray that the Lord would be glorified whatever came of the idea and just trusted Him.
We went back to their home in March to visit as we were on our way to Virginia. Not long after we arrived, Ruby brought a bear to Charley that she had made just for him since he had been battling kidney stones for the last month. It was a bear made with John Deere tractor material that is his favorite tractor. Later in the evening, after supper and visiting, Charley went over to the recliner and lay back placing his new "Johnny Bear" on his chest and went to sleep.
What does this bear have? Nothing in and of itself but when given with God's love, it becomes a dear friend that reminds us of our Lord's love and care even in the tough times. When placed in the hands of an Alzheimer's patient, who does not know his name, his daughter or where he is, it becomes his touch with God's love, peace and joy. These bears take very little time to make. Ruby brought out a huge garbage bag of bears and each one was different. The colors were bright and cheerful. These were our bears to take with us. There were 56 of them.
Now you must understand, when we leave on a trip the car is packed to capacity depending on the length of the trip. This trip is to be 6 weeks long. When Charley packed the trunk with bibles, books and other items to be delivered, he could not seem to get it packed tight. He said, “Lord, help me to pack this trunk, You always do, but I can not seem to get it just right.” The Lord said, “Don't worry about it. It is ok.” We packed the bears in smaller bags and they fit exactly in the trunk of our car. Only one piece of luggage had to go in the back seat and we had plenty of room for it.
We knew that the Lord gave us the bears and we knew that He had a place for them to go. Ruby also gave us two patterns for the bear and also she gave us two patterns for a large bib (see bib pattern) that she and Jim have been making for the nursing home residents. Ruby enlisted her quilting guild to help make bears and bibs as a project. They caught the vision of the Lord and began making so many bears that they have supplied all three nursing homes in their area with two bears for each resident and also bibs for each resident.
This is the Lord's ministry so we share this with all of you who are interested in touching people's lives in the name of Jesus. Some of you may say that you can not sew. Let me tell you, these are so simple anyone can do them if they have access to a sewing machine. The bibs are quilted with one layer of batting between two pieces of fabric. You can be very creative on the colors and how it is quilted.
Some questions for thought and prayer:
So many of the people in the nursing home have no one that comes to visit. These folks are so precious. Years ago when my children were small, we would go to the nursing home and they would sing little songs about Jesus for the residents. It would bring a wonderful smile to their faces and their eyes would twinkle.
Have you seen pictures of the little children in Mexico, El Salvador, India or other countries around the world who have nothing to call their own? If you have access to missionaries from your church or other organizations, this could be an opportunity to bless their ministry.
We have had missionaries report back to us the impact on the children and the parents when they give the little cars and show them the sticker on the bottom of the car which says in English or Spanish, "A Gift from Jesus". They have been told that Jesus loves them but now here is tangible proof that Jesus loves them so much that He sent them this gift.
This is an opportunity for prayer and for action. Please pray about using this free pattern to bless others in Jesus name. If you have any questions, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Christ's Kingdom Ministries, P. O. Box 822101, Ft. Worth, Texas 76182. Also, be sure to visit our WeLovePastors.org website and blog.
We carry a laptop with us as we travel and are always as close as the email.
Also please send us your stories about the impact of the bears on others. We want to praise the Lord with you as you give of yourselves, God's love and your time to those that God loves so much that He sent His son Jesus to die just for them.
WE GIVE ALL HONOR, GLORY AND PRAISE TO OUR LORD JESUS!
Karen's "Moo Bear"
Charley's "John Deere 'Johnny' Bear"
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