Every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., conversation and laughter fill Community Christian Reformed Church in De Motte, Ind., as a group of women gather together to crochet hats, make blankets, create cards, write notes, and more for people who are living with cancer.
It's been a weekly occupation since 2015 when Judy Earnshaw, a member of Community CRC, heard about the ministry of Phil’s Friends—“a Christian nonprofit organization … committed to bringing support and hope to those affected by cancer in the United States.” They send out care packages and offer spiritual support through prayer to cancer patients of all ages.
Earnshaw is now the charity's development manager for Indiana, and Tracy Szczudlak, another member at Community CRC, runs the weekly volunteer day at the church. The ministry has grown to two other CRC congregations—First CRC and Bethel CRC, both in DeMotte—who do monthly Phil’s Friends days.
The women who participate at Community CRC have developed deep friendships and community through their weekly gatherings. Every time a box is packed, they lay hands on it and pray for the person who will receive it. Szczudlak said, “We’re trying to reach people to spread hope and love, and tell people that they’re not alone.”
The care packages include a blanket, a hat, a journal, a puzzle book, a toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, a backpack, a water bottle, and a Bible. Earnshaw said, “God is using this to reach cancer patients and those that are around them through showing his love to them and to the volunteers who help.”
Earnshaw said, “Phil's Friends is an amazing ministry that Sunday Schools, GEMS, youth groups, Bible Studies, small groups, individuals, and entire churches all over the country can participate in.”
Individuals wanting to request a care package for someone or find out how to get involved can visit philsfriends.org.