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March 27, 2013

Peru: Stories of the Heart

Women found hope and healing by sharing their life stories through a meaningful and beautiful craft project.

  • Colorful Ribbons

    Many strips of colorful ribbons and fabrics are used to create story ropes. Light colors represent happy times while dark colors are symbolic of more difficult periods.

  • Healing Process

    The story rope art project was part of a number of events led by TEAM missionary Brenda Matthews designed specifically for women to care and support each other.

  • God’s Story

    Richey and Matthews hold the story ropes up in front of a quilt that tells a Bible message so the women can see how their stories fit into God’s larger story at work.

  • Meaningful Art

    Each story rope tells a unique story of the women’s triumphs and struggles throughout their lives. A healing process can begin as they share their stories in a caring environment.

A woman searches through a large pile of fabric strips, looking for just the right color and pattern. She is creating a story rope, using colorful fabric strips closely tied together on a long, narrow piece of fabric to symbolize different parts of her life story.

Dark fabric strips are used to signify the dark periods of her life, while brighter fabric strips represent more happy times. She remembers and reflects on the joys and sorrows of her life as she ties each fabric strip to the rope.

Women at a recent weekend event hosted by TEAM missionary Brenda Matthews enjoyed the artistic process of creating their own story ropes. Marge Malwitz, a Christian quilt artist from Connecticut, and her co-teacher Cathy Richey from Oklahoma, led the story rope sessions. The activity was a non-threatening way for the women to express feelings that may otherwise be difficult to talk about. Many women in the group were dealing with adultery in their marriages or have been victims of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. The story ropes provided a way to talk about their lives with a supportive group of women.

A lot of pain was expressed through tears as the women told their stories. Malwitz related the women’s stories to God’s story, represented by a quilt she had created that tells a Bible story, to help them see that they are part of His bigger picture. She explained that God is the master artist who is present in every day of their stories, and his artwork is full of meaning and purpose. Malwitz spoke to the women about how the Lord is healing her through art, and how He can heal them too.

Other activities throughout the weekend provided more opportunities for the women to connect and care for each other. “God was at work bringing healing and hope, and the joy of the Lord was reflected on their faces,” Matthews said. “The ladies have commented about how meaningful the weekend was, and how it has impacted their lives. I’ve been encouraged to hear that they’ve been sharing the teaching with ladies who weren’t able to attend.” Through the simple story-telling technique of story ropes, the Lord brought hope and healing to many.

-Written by Lisa H. Renninger
-Photos provided by Brenda Matthews, TEAM missionary in Peru