My Neighbor is on the Other Side of the World

Date Posted: 8/10/2011

In the gospel of Luke, a lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answers with the parable of the Good Samaritan and asks the lawyer which person who passed by the injured man was his neighbor? And the lawyer replies: “The one who showed him mercy.”


Each of us is presented on a daily basis with opportunities to show mercy to those who are in need. I was presented with a wonderful opportunity in June 2009 when I was surfing the Internet, looking for a pattern to make knitted ponchos for my granddaughters.


I never found the right pattern, but I found much more; a charity called Knit-a-Square in South Africa. The charity was totally new and was pleading for help from knitters to knit squares that would become blankets and keep warm millions of HIVAIDS povertystricken, abandoned orphans in the midst of a freezing South African winter. Knit-a-Square was begun by a family, Sandy McDonald and her husband Roger and their daughters, all originally from Zimbabwe who immigrated to Australia because of extreme violence.


Through the power of the Internet and Sandy’s computer skills, a website was set up to ask knitters and crocheters around the world to knit and send them eight inch squares, using bright colors and any stitch.


These 8-inch squares would be made into blankets to keep the children warm during the winter months. In her daily activities in and around Johannesburg, Ronda, Sandy’s aunt was encountering children approaching her car asking for food and shivering in thin clothing in twenty degree weather. She began carrying inexpensive blankets and apples in the car to give out, but the demand was too great.


I believe God directed me toward  the Knit-a-Square website so that I could help my neighbors on the other side of the world. I was not looking for a ministry that I could do at home but  God gave me one! I began knitting both squares and hats and sending them to Ronda, where volunteer teams of South African ladies sewed the squares into blankets, which required 35 squares each.


Because of the high customs tax, the blankets could not be made in the U.S. and sent to Africa because they have resale value. When the squares become blankets; these blankets are sent to shack settlements where many of the orphans are in small daycare groups with little personal belongings. Most settlements have no heat in winter and these garments and blankets may be the only items the children have to keep warm.


After two months, I was impressed by God to approach the staff at my home church, Clear Lake UMC in Houston, Texas, to inquire whether I could begin a knitting ministry. With their support I began asking church knitters and crocheters to meet together and work in a mission project at home. The response was overwhelming.


Our Knit-a-Square Circle has become a full outreach ministry. Both the church and our United Methodist Women’s ministry have contributed to postage costs which can be expensive to ship our boxes of squares to South Africa.


God has blessed our Knit-a-Square Circle with more than twenty knitters and crocheters who make squares, hats, slip-overs, heavy over-sweaters, and knitted baby sacks with matching hats. We are grateful for a caring, supportive church.


The Knit-a-Square Circle at Clear Lake UMC has sent more than 2,000 knitted squares and many sweaters, baby sacks, hats, slipovers, and knitted soft toys in only two years. We have become a cohesive group with one use our talents, our financial resources, our hands, and our skills to serve God in helping warm these unfortunate children.


At the Knit-a-Square website there is a Square Circle Forum if anyone is interested in starting this rewarding ministry. This month the website announced the charity is extending into Zimbabwe to send squares to a home where there are 130 orphans who need blankets. Truly God is blessing this endeavor as He has given so many of us the opportunity to show mercy to our neighbors who are on the other side of the world.