Lagniappe – it’s an old tradition in the old South, especially Louisiana, meaning “a little something more.” The business people of days gone by would give lagniappe – a bonus (such as the thirteenth donut in a baker’s dozen) to their customers. Similarly, some Louisiana Women’s Connection Groups today provide lagniappe to their communities, but in big ways. Stonecroft volunteers share the Gospel with women outside their social circles and shower them with the love of Jesus.
In Alexandria, the Christian Women’s Club (CWC) ministers to women at an addiction recovery center. Women from this center are invited to CWC luncheons where they are welcomed with little gifts and made to feel special, says Chair Julia Parker. Quite a few of these special guests have attended the monthly outreach. The regular volunteers get to know the guests and are intentional in reaching out to them.
When these guests indicate they have responded to the Speaker’s presentation to receive Christ, the Group follows up with the new believers so they can continue to mature spiritually and make sure they have a Bible. As the guests complete their recovery programs and get ready to return home, volunteers give them information to engage with a Group in their area for their continued spiritual growth.
The Prayer Connection for the Mandeville-Covington CWC meets at St. Anthony’s Garden assisted living facility. Before the Prayer Connection begins, volunteers can pray with some of the residents in the room, and residents have started to join in the Prayer Connection, explains Pat Burrow, Prayer Coordinator.
The facility offers an opportunity for additional engagement of residents in Stonecroft. The CWC will hold its outreach at the facility in October. “We’re excited about this,” says Pat, explaining that this event is a vendor fair Fall Fundraiser where residents can enjoy a buffet meal, hear the Speaker’s Gospel message, and do some Christmas shopping.
A two-hour drive away, in Lafayette, the After 5 is taking Stonecroft “behind bars.” The Group holds its monthly meeting at the parish correctional center. Tamarah Wales, Chair, says that their Group attendance declined to about 20 women, but they still felt their work was not yet done. Now they hold their monthly meeting with about 50 inmates. Volunteers serve the food using the same caterer who prepared the meals before the venue change, provide some worship music, as well as an approved Stonecroft Speaker who shares her life story and the Gospel.
The center’s population changes continually, so each meeting has a high number of first-time guests. It’s not unusual for 16 women to receive Jesus at these meetings. The volunteers place stickers with their phone numbers on the back of the follow-up “A New Beginning” and “A Gift for You” booklets so inmates can contact them on their release in finding Bible studies, churches, clothing for work, or other help.
The After 5 also does a similar program quarterly for the men’s side of the center. “God has opened these doors,” Tamarah says.
The CWC in Baton Rouge reaches out to women going through tough situations, welcoming them to their Group and “loving on them,” explains Lisa Russell, Chair. These guests desire positive relationships, so they are presented with small gifts, encouragement, and love.
Lisa tells one “sweet story” of when a group of four guests arrived at the outreach. Lisa heard a commotion at their vehicle and checked to see what the fuss was about. Three of the women went into the building, but one, Patsy (not her real name) remained in the vehicle crying, “I can’t get out; I’m not coming in. They told me I’m crazy.” This reopened a deep heart wound as Patsy remembered the repeated insult by a family member. Lisa continued to listen and gently coaxed Patsy into the outreach. Patsy enjoyed this time and responded to the Speaker’s message by praying to receive Christ.
“She was definitely different when she left that day,” Lisa says. “She felt encouraged and loved.”
Encouragement, love, and the salvation message. These Stonecroft women provide lagniappe – in God-sized ways.