Each November, writer, speaker and Bible teacher Shellie Tomlinson celebrates “30 Days of Thankfulness.” For Shellie, this is a season to invite her friends to contribute to a cause. “I wanted to encourage my readers to do something beyond giving thanks with our mouths throughout November,” said Shellie. “I wanted us to put action to that — to build that gratitude in a way that would touch other people.” Together Shellie and her readers have given to help drill a well in Africa, build an orphanage and fund local ministries.
One year, Shellie prayed about a cause to share. “I asked the Lord to lead me to someone who had a desire to do something beyond themselves. … It never crossed my mind it’d be my own grands!”
Shellie’s granddaughters — 11-year-old Emerson and 9-year-old Carlisle — had been learning about the history of Cameron Townsend, the founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators, in school. When the girls heard that many people are still waiting for God’s Word in their language, they decided to raise money for Bible translation by sewing and selling tea towels. Emerson and Carlisle hoped that their “Keggie,” Shellie, would share about the project on her blog.
“[My grand girls] know how much I love God’s Word,” Shellie said. Each week, Shellie and her grandchildren choose a Bible verse to memorize together. “They knew that I would be on board.”
Shellie, Emerson and Carlisle decided to make the tea towel project that year's thankfulness campaign. Friends, family and readers of Shellie’s blog responded generously. Within a few days of launching the fundraiser, Shellie and the girls had to close tea towel orders due to their capacity to fulfill all the requests!
Emerson and Carlisle, with their mom and Shellie’s help, sewed 162 tea towels from the beginning of November up until Christmas. The girls surpassed their fundraising goal of $1,500 and raised a total of $1,912. The funds will help translate the New Testament into four languages that are part of the Anioma-Ghotuo Cluster project in Nigeria.
Shellie’s highlight from the campaign was seeing the values of gratitude, generosity and love for Scripture reflected back to her by her granddaughters. The girls’ initiative shows that they’re internalizing the very same priorities Shellie hopes to pass on to them. And as a result, more people in Nigeria will have the opportunity to meet Jesus through his Word in a language that speaks to their hearts.