By Emily Drayne
If asked, “Have you ever felt lonely?” most people would answer yes. Most people would also admit to sometimes missing their friends, family, and hometown. Now consider missionaries serving in foreign countries and imagine the loneliness they face.
Velvet Ashes is reaching out to women on the mission field who are experiencing these types of feelings. Founded by Danielle Wheeler in 2013, Velvet Ashes is helping women from all over the world connect in a central location: online. The goal is to serve the women who have uprooted their lives and planted roots in new lands. The ministry is helping single and married women serving in the United States and around the world.
Velvet Ashes hosts an annual online retreat for these servants of God. The retreat is open to all women but is geared specifically to those serving overseas. The organization provides resources such as retreat guides, video series, testimonies, downloadable music, and opportunities to chat with the Velvet Ashes team. For a small fee, participants can access online resources and a place to unplug from the needs of their lives, as well as connect with women around the world.
Beyond the annual retreat, Velvet Ashes (www.velvetashes.com) has weekly connection groups available for those who are on the field, those getting ready to leave for the field, and those returning from the field. Meetings occur via Skype, e-mail, and Facebook groups. In some ways, these groups are akin to stateside Sunday school classes or small groups. It’s important to have a group of people with whom you’re doing life.
Velvet Ashes also has a blog it updates daily that covers a variety of topics. For example, posts during a four-week installment called “The Welcome Series” focused on women moving to the field; the posts provided guidance for certain situations, tips and thoughts for living cross-culturally, advice on living in the ministry spotlight, and more. The blog themes typically change each week.
In addition to offering a place for women to connect and providing access to mentors who will help talk through issues, Velvet Ashes offers multiple social media avenues with which to engage and “meet” other women, as well as a place to share and blog your own thoughts.
Recommend Velvet Ashes’ website to your church’s present and future missionaries. It’s a great place to connect and nurture friendships. It might even motivate some to consider mission work.
And remember to pray for the Velvet Ashes team as they continue to encourage and empower women all over the world.
Emily Drayne lives in North Carolina and has served with the International Conference on Missions for six years.