General Baptists have been operating Dorcas Sewing Centers for many years now impacting the lives of hundreds of women caught in the grips of poverty.  This six month tailoring program empowers women to supplement their families income if not completely provide for it.  

The sewing centers also create a sense of shared good among believers and unbelievers in the community as well.  Typically well over half of any Dorcas class are non Christians.  While it is true that a Christian pastor leads daily prayer and devotions, being a Christian is not requisite to taking the program or receiving an industrial class sewing machine at the end of the course. 

In fact all of the villages where sewing center classes are taught would be classified as only having a very small Christian minority in the community.  But the offering of the class does create considerable good will for the local pastor and the local church within the community. 

Among the 14 classes offered across villages in the state of Andhra Pradesh in 2023, one in particular exemplifies the good will created by these classes.  The church in this community was destroyed several years ago by a tropical cyclone.  The community came together to assist the pastor, both Hindu and Christian, and a small piece of land was designated for a church with the promise of donation papers to follow.  The papers never followed but the lady who made the offer continued to allow the church to meet on her property.

This last year the pastor learned of the Dorcas Sewing Center program and invited India Association to offer the much needed program in his community.  The classes commenced and there was an immediate sense of good derived by the women in the class (mostly Hindu) and within the community itself.  

Upon observing the good the church and pastor were accomplishing to the community, the lady, who had offered the land several years ago, came and spoke to the pastor about making the donation official.  This generous lady made it clear that her observation of the sewing center classes and the good it was creating for some of the needest ladies in the community was the motivator that caused her to finally come through with her promise.

It was the good the church was doing for Christian and Hindu alike that impressed this lady enough to prompt her to fulfill her promise.  She was as good as her word and formal papers were drawn up to donate a parcel of land for the church that now has a new building under construction.  All because of the good will generated by a Dorcas Sewing Center.  

In the work of missions, the value of creating good will between church and community, especially where Christians are a minority, cannot be overemphasized.  Praise God for the many ladies touched by these sewing centers but also for the tremendous testimony for Christ they create. 

Written by Mark Powell Vice President for Global Missions.