The Guerreras para Dios (Lady Warriors for the Lord) group at La Misión Hispana, a ministry of the Parkway House of Prayer, sews, knits, and crochets to raise money for missions. Led by volunteer Joan Henry, they meet weekly on Wednesday evenings to work on their handiwork projects and to enjoy great fellowship.
The ladies make a wide variety of sweaters, vests, scarves, hats, aprons, pillowcase dresses, tote, cosmetic, and coupon bags, potholders, and more. One especially skilled lady makes garments by finger crocheting.
At a worship service on October 13, the Lady Warriors gathered for a dedication ceremony for hats and turbans they had made for patients at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.
La Misión Hispana is but one of many ministries of Parkway House of Prayer on King Street near Vinton. The church was founded in 1947 with the purpose of sharing the Gospel.
The purpose of the Hispanic Mission, founded in 2000, is to serve the Hispanic community in the Roanoke Valley by teaching everyone the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are a fellowship of believers from here in the United States and from various Spanish-speaking countries, predominantly Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras at this time.
“As God’s guardian of the Hispanic community in the Roanoke Valley, this church is committed to providing for the physical and spiritual needs of this community,” is their message.
The ministry is led by Pastor Dave Calhoun, who just celebrated his 13th year in the ministry.
He grew up on the Texas/Mexico border where his family was deeply involved in missions, going into Mexico on an almost weekly basis—helping to build churches and houses, and conducting Vacation Bible School. That’s where he learned the Spanish language and culture, often bonding over “exquisite, authentic Mexican cuisine.”
The Hispanic Mission now holds worship services with praise, worship music, and a pastoral message in Spanish on Sundays at 12:30 with Sunday School for children and teens in English. They also offer services on Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. with activities for all ages.
They started out with just English classes for adults, but that task has been taken over by their partner church, Emmanuel Wesleyan, on Hershberger Road.
The English classes evolved into Bible Study and then into the present-day worship services and activities. Initially those participating in Bible Study attended the English services at Parkway House of Prayer, but eventually they came to establish services in their own language.
Calhoun is not only the Senior Pastor of La Misión Hispana, but also a legal immigration representative certified by the United States Department of Justice.
La Misión Hispana sponsors “El Puente Immigrant Connection,” a local immigration Legal Services Office, where Calhoun assists immigrants with their immigration application process. They also offer Spanish and English medical, legal, and employment interpretation services on a donation basis. No one is refused services due to lack of resources. More complicated issues are referred to the Poarch Law firm.
The Hispanic Mission bases their ministry on Scriptures from the Gospel in Luke 10 to “love immigrants”; in Matthew 25 “to welcome immigrants”; from Deuteronomy 10 to “execute justice for immigrants”; and from Romans 13 to “respect the rule of law.” Members believe it is their responsibility to live out all of these simultaneously.
Calhoun says his family is an integral part of the ministry. His wife Sybil, a nurse manager, leads the music. They have two sons, Josh, who lives in Florida with his wife Heidi, and Caleb and his wife Taylor who live in the Roanoke area.
Caleb, age 20, owns and operates Calhoun Livestock.
He is the connection between La Misión Hispana, Guerreras para Dios, and St. Jude’s. In 2016, Caleb was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a cancerous tumor in his left femur with a few spots on his chest and spine.
“Throughout 2017, I spent every other week inpatient at Carilion for Chemo Treatments while at the same time finishing my last year of high school,” said Caleb. “During this time, I really had a chance to think about life and was blessed with a new perspective on everyday living. In April of 2017, I was blessed to go to St. Jude for my total Femur replacement and radiation treatments. After my surgery, I still had a few more months of chemo. Since then I still regularly go to St. Jude for checkups and have been cancer-free for around two years now.”
When he left for St. Jude’s on October 13, Caleb took along the hats and turbans handmade by the Guerreras para Dios group.
“I have been working with cattle on my Grandpa’s farm for as long as I can remember,” Caleb said. “I always enjoyed working with cattle and started investing in livestock when I turned 14.”
“Throughout this time of testing in my life, I was encouraged to think about my everyday choices such as what I eat and how I treat my body,” Caleb said. “Though I never considered myself to be unhealthy before this, I knew I didn’t do my best to research all of my food. I found that the Grain-Finished Beef most of us consume is very unhealthy and sometimes encourages the growth of certain types of cancer-causing cells. I found this to be disappointing because beef is such a vital part of American diets.”
“Fortunately, I stumbled upon research showing that Grass-Finished beef is not only leaner and healthier for you but is also shown to have cancer-fighting properties,” adds Caleb. “I also found that the Holstein breed of cattle is much more tender and nutrient-dense than your average Angus Beef. So as soon as I was back on my feet, I went to work getting everything set up for our Grass-Fed and Grass-Finished Holstein Beef business. We are now producing Grass-Fed and Grass-Finished Holstein Cattle in Chamblissburg and selling our Beef online with Free Delivery within 15 miles of Roanoke at CalhounLivestock.com.”
“I have been blessed with another chance at life and I am very thankful to be able to share healthy food with my neighbors in Roanoke,” he said.
A portion of each sale is donated to St. Jude’s, thanking them for “Finding Cures. Saving Children.”
In addition to their other sewing projects, the Guerreras para Dios have made aprons for Calhoun Livestock.
“We are so thankful for the awesome work that the ladies did with our Grilling Aprons and they have been a big hit with our customers!” Caleb said.
Pastor Calhoun describes the “amazing dynamic” of the Lady Warriors for the Lord and how Joan Henry has helped to bring their talents together. “Joan was able to get the ladies sewing even though she does not speak their language. She just loved on the ladies and built a fellowship. It’s like a little family on Wednesday nights.” Often the ladies in the sewing group remain for the worship services afterward.
The Sassy Stitchers non-profit organization in Vinton helped set up the sewing room upstairs at the Parkway House of Prayer, giving them the basics to get started in their ministry.
“God has provided the rest from within the church and the community,” said Joan Henry.
Henry, a member of Parkway, has a passion for the Lord and for needlework. She teaches the ladies to sew and knit; others teach crocheting.
“We all work together and share our skills and ideas,” said Henry.
Henry, originally from Virginia, lived for many years in Kentucky where she was involved with a ministry teaching knitting to mentally and physically challenged adults. When she moved to Roanoke, her search for a new church home led her to Parkway. She heard Pastor Calhoun deliver an emotional message about what he does, how he was called to the ministry, and the challenges many immigrants face.
Henry immediately felt called to help with his ministry and “knew why” she was there. She explained her past volunteer work. He responded that he had been praying about how he could help the women in the congregation, especially how to provide fellowship for them.
Henry started the group a little over a year ago, assisted by January Rollins—and it has flourished. She has found it especially enjoyable working with younger girls who want to learn to sew.
“Working with the group has blessed my life so much that I am in awe,” said Henry. “The ladies truly have hearts to help others.”
Guerreras para Dios meets every Wednesday at the Parkway House of Prayer at 6 p.m. For more information on their group or their crafts, text 502-235-1404.