Raquel from Veracruz, Mexico, grew up in a Christian home where she constantly heard about Jesus. Raquel realized early on in life that she needed to personally accept Him; she resisted, however, until the day people from church came to her house to watch a Christian movie. Raquel and her older sister were not supposed to be around, but they secretly watched the film from the stairway. Six-year-old Raquel was so convicted by the movie that she prayed that night to accept Jesus as her Saviour!
Fashion design journey
Raquel always loved to draw. Girls in school would ask her to draw designs of dresses that they could wear for their highly celebrated fifteenth coming-of-age parties (called fiesta de quince años). Unfortunately, her parents told Raquel and her sister that they could not afford for both Raquel to study fashion design in university and for her sister to study to become a chef. One of them would have to choose a more affordable pursuit. Raquel’s sister sacrificed by deciding on another career, allowing Raquel to follow her dream.
Raquel finished four years at university studying fashion design and an internship with a successful fashion designer. She worked from home for years, designing and sewing dresses. God’s plan, however, extended beyond Raquel using her skills from inside her house.
Raquel was not personally interested in traditional missions, though she had heard her mom’s stories about short trips she had been on, and her brother even became a full-time missions worker in the mountains of Mexico. After a conversation with someone who spoke of Raquel using her full life to share God’s love, however, the idea seemed, annoyingly, to stick. A year later, in 2018, the OM ship Logos Hope was in Veracruz, but Raquel did not want to be involved as she was running away from missions. Somehow, Raquel ended up translating for ship members and came across a pamphlet from Logos Hope that talked about different areas, including the Balkan countries. This stuck with her, and she felt that maybe God was calling her to live out His love in another country. Her mom prayed with her, though not knowing the Balkan region was on her mind. Then, one day Raquel’s mom came with the same pamphlet, saying, “Did you see the area of the Balkans?” It was a confirmation!
During the same time, Raquel read a pamphlet called “They are Like You” and realised people were needed who are artistic—having skills to teach sewing, drawing, or playing instruments. Raquel had not known her talents could be used that way to share God’s love, thinking that medical professionals were more desired. “When I realised that my skills can be used in the mission field, I was really glad,” she said. “I can help in the Kingdom of God with my profession. I didn’t believe it was possible…”
When Raquel had an interview with OM in Albania in 2019, Erna, the church planting and development leader, spoke about a sewing ministry among Albanian women (which started in 2001.) This hit Raquel like lightning; she felt that God told her, “It’s there you need to go. It is Albania I am calling you [to].” Though the coronavirus pandemic interrupted her plans, Raquel reached Albania in March 2021.
The current journey
Raquel is still learning Albanian but uses it when teaching children’s lessons, spending time with teenagers in a village, and explaining things to ladies in a sewing course. She loves the friendly people of Albania. She observes, though, that “there is a lot of confusion about who Jesus is… and about His love.” Many Albanians claim the family religion passed onto them without real understanding, and some hold to superstitions.
In the sewing ministry, Raquel can use her design training to teach women what type of fabric and which patterns should be used for different clothes and what styles of dresses are best for each body shape. Her passion also lies in wanting women to see Jesus’ love, which is important in this holistic ministry.
Raquel and other Jesus followers intentionally teach sewing classes in places where there are fewer opportunities for women, such as in the villages. Physical poverty is a reality for many families; many women from villages do not realise their own capabilities. Learning how to sew helps women gain a skill that can help make or save money for their families. Different women who have done the course have gone on to work in factories that prefer workers with sewing skills; others have become seamstresses. The courses also include Bible studies, where many women have made decisions to follow Christ, some getting baptised and becoming church members and some experiencing changes within their families.
The current sewing course group was the first (in all the years that Erna has led this ministry) to ask for a Bible study twice a week instead of just once. Amazingly, all the ladies who had not followed Jesus before believed in Him when the message of what Jesus has done for everyone was explained to them.
Recently, Raquel shared her testimony with these ladies. They were wondering, “How is it possible?” They were amazed that a little child could understand she is a sinner and needed to be made clean. The women realised they, too, needed to pray for family members who are not yet Christians.
Now having lived one year in Albania and more involved with ministry, Raquel’s passions remain the same — to help women in designing and sewing, and share Christ’s love with them. As there are many areas in Albania without communities of Jesus followers, Raquel’s dream is to see churches in every village. She desires to continue sharing her testimony and says, “I want to be… used by God — not the way I think would be better, but the way He wants me to be used!”
Prayer points for Raquel:
-Pray Raquel will keep improving in the challenging language of Albanian in order to communicate more effectively.
-Pray for God’s guidance as Raquel is considering staying in Albania longer than the two years she had originally committed to with OM.
-Pray for financial support and her supporters since she might soon ask them if they can continue supporting her for longer.
-Pray that the Lord will use her in Albania as a tool in His hand.