If you were at Chase Oaks Church about six years ago, you may remember the service when our pastors gave some volunteers from the congregation $100 each and challenged them to invest it as they saw fit for God’s kingdom. This was to be a modern-day application of the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14–30).
Anita Maddox was one of those volunteers at the Sloan Creek campus. Through another local church, Anita and her husband Thad had been involved for a couple years at an orphanage in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico (Casa Hogar Elim). Before she even left the campus that Sunday, God gave her the idea to invest the $100 in materials to help the orphans make and sell jewelry for needed revenue.
A New Business
In her next monthly trip to the orphanage, Anita taught a group of children how to make bottle-cap necklaces, which she brought back to Texas and sold here. They were popular and sold well, but Anita knew within a few months that it wasn’t practical to continue that kind of jewelry because of the process involved in making them. Instead, with the help of a friend and some YouTube videos, she transitioned the girls to making jewelry out of colorful paper and beads, often using recycled materials. Many of those materials could be found in Mexico. (By the way, Anita emphasized that she is not in any way a “crafty” person, so she’s had to rely strongly on God’s leading the whole way.)
Ever since 2011, the hard-working girls at the orphanage have been perfecting this process, and some of them have gotten amazingly good at making beautiful jewelry! Anita made it clear to them from the beginning, “This is your business. Whenever you get tired of doing this, we can shut it down.” But that hasn’t happened yet!
The leadership at the Sloan Creek campus willingly allows Anita to sell the jewelry in the lobby three or four times a year. After the most recent Sunday’s sales at both Sloan Creek and Legacy, Anita took back to the orphanage $4,200. Keep in mind that $10 will feed one of the orphans there for about a month, so these jewelry sales have made a huge difference.
Anita has also been able to sell the jewelry at flea markets and craft fairs, with 100% of the revenue going to the orphanage. The total revenue brought in from the jewelry is now around $42,000! Roughly $30,000 of it came through Chase Oaks. Not only has it fed the kids and kept the bills paid but Mama Lupita, the owner of the orphanage and a strong Christian, has been able to buy school supplies and medications, pay employees, and more.
Come On Down!
In 2016, the time was finally right for Chase Oaks to sponsor weekend mission trips to the orphanage. So, with about 20 people going on each trip, approximately 110 have served there. Because the oldest orphans there are responsible to feed and care for the younger ones, the former get the chance to rest when our folks go there and take over those chores for a few days. Those who have taken the trip have been amazed to see how happy the kids are and how much it feels like a family. Love is abundant there.
As with most endeavors, the more time you spend serving somewhere, the more aware you become of many other needs. Anita and Thad became burdened for the educational needs of the 80 or so orphans there. Most of them seem trapped by a reduced choice of vocations as they become adults because of their limited opportunities to learn. Anita felt a growing desire to move there and build a learning center so she could help them by establishing classes in math, Web design, cooking, etc.—the kinds of things you just can’t do in a monthly trip.
Anita told a friend back in February, “If I could just get laid off from my job, along with a nice severance package, I could move down to Nuevo Laredo and get to work.” What do you think happened two weeks later? She got laid off and handed that package!
Thad will work until September, then they’re planning to move in October to an apartment right next to the orphanage. Anita’s working with Commission to Every Nation, a sending organization, so they have official, organizational support. She’s also setting up a 501(c)3 organization and website so people can buy the jewelry without her having to bring it up here regularly. Oh, and she’s taking a Spanish class!
Anita has chosen the name “Gift of Dignity” for her new organization, and she wants to teach the residents the business side of the venture. She also has a vision for a new type of metal and leather bracelet she wants the residents to start making soon.
The intention, through all of their efforts, is to make the orphanage self-sustaining at some point so the Maddoxes can then take the same template somewhere else. Their future in Nuevo Laredo, an unsafe area, is uncertain, and they have no idea how long they will live there, but they’re content to leave it all in God’s hands.
To the ones in the parable who invested their talents well, Jesus said, “You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!”
The Maddoxes are definitely about to be put in charge of many things, and Anita’s joy and passion for this calling is readily apparent. I can’t think of a better ending to this modern-day parable, can you?
If you’d like to buy some jewelry, join in on a weekend mission trip, or invest in this ministry, contact Anita at or visit www.chaseoaks.org/nuevo-laredo-mexico.